Telling Basketball's Ever-New Story
Veteran college-game broadcaster sees a new selfishness emerging. INTERVIEW
BILLY PACKER is the definitive voice of men's college basketball in the United States. Last spring, the CBS sports analyst celebrated his 20th consecutive season broadcasting the Final Four - the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's Division I championship.
Packer says he doesn't consider himself a professional broadcaster: He never had any professional training. ``I fell into it,'' he says. He was a Wake Forest (N.C.) guard who moved to the sidelines as an assistant coach and then into the broadcast booth.
Packer doesn't have an off-season, he says: ``Broadcasting basketball games is a hobby, like a guy who likes to hunt and fish.'' He is involved in sports marketing, sales, and real estate here and abroad.
A telephone call from this reporter found Packer at his home in North Carolina relaxing in front of another court - Court TV. He pulled himself away to talk about his career in college basketball and the players in the game today. Some excerpts:
After broadcasting college games for 20 years, what brings you back for more?
The uniqueness of college basketball is that there is a new storyline every year. A new cast of characters comes along, and it ends with the fairest and greatest tournament in March.
Professional basketball goes in 3-to-5-year phases. Right now, it's Shaquille O'Neal and his team. We also had the period of Magic [Johnson] and Michael [Jordan] over 10 years. So in that sense, professional basketball is very limiting. There's a freshness about new guys coming onto the scene, which is what you have in college basketball.
What does college basketball offer that pro basketball doesn't? Have you ever considered switching?