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Billy Packer, the legendary college basketball announcer, died on Thursday at the age of 82. His son, Mark, shared the news on Twitter on Thursday night.
Mark told the Associated Press that Packer was hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks with several medical issues before ultimately succumbing to kidney failure.
Packer first joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four one year later before working every Final Four from 1975 to 2008 as an analyst or color commentator. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Packer was on the broadcast of the 1979 national championship game showdown between Michigan State and Indiana State which featured Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. That contest remains the most-watched game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, with equates to an estimated 35.1 million viewers.
“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer told AP. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”
Dick Vitale took to Twitter to send his love to Packer and his family.
College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla wrote on Twitter “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”
Packer was also an author who wrote multiple books with his best known being the memoir “Hoops: Confessions of a College Basketball Analyst” which was published in 1985.
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When I was into college basketball, Billy was really good. Always enjoyed listening to him.
When you thought of Billy, you thought of March Madness. He was part of that explosion back in the 80`s through today. RIP Billy……