Monday night marked the end of an era as Jim Nantz called his 32nd and final NCAA men’s national championship of his career, a game the legendary announcer says he felt ill prepared to broadcast.
Nantz joined The Dan Patrick Show Friday morning to discuss calling the last Final Four of his career and now preparing to lead CBS’ coverage of the Masters this weekend. While Nantz appreciates all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded his decision to retire from college basketball, the 63-year-old broadcaster described the tributes as mentally draining.
“As the weekend was going on, I was more and more fatigued and overwhelmed by all the tributes and the nice things people were saying,” Nantz told Patrick. “I just couldn’t keep up with all the correspondence, I’m still trying to get back to people. But Monday morning, I felt like I was not prepared to do the game emotionally.
“I was teetering on the edge of great fatigue and deep emotion. Not because I’m saying goodbye. Just because the fact that I felt like I was the last link for a lot of people that worked that tournament for nearly 40 years, and I was repping them. And I just hadn’t felt that weak mentally going into a game in decades…somehow it came time to perform, and I felt good once the tally light came on.”
Monday evening, Nantz kept pictures and mementos at the broadcast table from his late parents and colleagues who helped him throughout his career, which the renowned announcer believes helped him get to the finish line of his final NCAA tournament. Despite fatigue, mental exhaustion and a bad game, Nantz’s final college basketball broadcast was pristine, capped by the perfect sign-off. “Thank you for being my friend” Nantz said after welcoming college basketball fans with “hello friends” for more than three decades.
“Thank you for being my friend.”- Jim Nantz 🏀🎙️ pic.twitter.com/URf6a8xzfk
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 4, 2023
“I was shaking a little bit and my voice was definitely trembling,” Nantz admitted. “And I felt like I was about to verbally four-putt, but somehow, I was able to close my eyes and go with the claw grip and the words came out kind of the way I wanted them to. I had not had anything written out or thought through.”
As Nantz reflects on his tremendous career as a college basketball announcer, he’s tasked with quickly transitioning to working his 38th consecutive Masters, with the target of calling the tournament through 2036 to mark 51 broadcasts.