It’s no secret that this weekend will mark the end of an era for Jim Nantz.
No, the world-famous broadcaster isn’t going anywhere, however, the 2023 NCAA Tournament will mark Nantz’s 32nd and final appearance as the tournament’s lead TV play-by-play voice for the Final Four and the national championship. For over three decades, Nantz has been the mouthpiece of The Big Dance, providing his voice for some of the best moments on college basketball’s biggest stage.
When you think of Chris Webber’s timeout that Michigan didn’t have or Gordon Hayward’s near-miss or Kris Jenkins’ shot to win a national title, you think of Nantz and the brilliant calls that will forever be associated with the rich history of the tournament. Those are just some of the highlights of an illustrious career, one that will be completed — as far as March Madness is concerned — following Monday’s title game and officially handed off to Ian Eagle.
Nantz appeared on Mad Dog’s Daily Bite with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo earlier this week and discussed the emotions he’s feeling ahead of calling what will be his last Final Four, while also touching on some of his fondest memories of being the voice for the NCAA Tournament since 1991.
“I’m committed to absorbing it all and not getting over the top sentimental,” said Nantz. “I’m not retiring from broadcasting. I hope to be continuing on with it for many years to come with the NFL and with golf. I’m going to be retiring to about a 40-week-a-year schedule on the road….It’s a rich schedule.”
Nantz isn’t leaving the broadcast booth just yet, as fans will still get to hear his prominent voice sooner than they may think, as he’ll anchor CBS’ coverage of the Masters Tournament next week and will still serve as the network’s lead NFL play-by-play analyst.
Still, he’s leaving behind 32 years’ worth of memories that made him a household name for so many years. When he calls his final NCAA Tournament game on Monday alongside Bill Raftery and Grant Hill, he’ll be carrying those memories with him, including the ones he made with Billy Packer from 1991-2008. Unfortunately, Packer passed away at the age of 82 just a few months ago, but Nantz mentioned to Russo that he got to tell his former partner and legendary college basketball announcer that he loved him in his final moments.
“I am nostalgic,” said Nantz. “In my heart, Billy Packer is not here. Pat McGrath, my stats guy, died of a heart attack on the eve of the tournament. 30 years doing the NCAA Tournament together with Pat. Those are definitely thoughts I’m going to be carrying with me, but this is a happy, joyous occasion.
“My nostalgia or sentimentality is usually born out of gratitude as opposed to a feeling of sadness. This is a feeling of just gratitude of having had so many fond, wonderful memories and working with many great people and getting to know generations of players and coaches, and trying to somehow lend the right tone to it all, tell proper stories, and allow America to get to know them a little bit better. I’m really looking forward to it.”