Jim Nantz and Billy Packer

The voice of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for more than three decades, Billy Packer died Thursday night. On Friday, he was remembered by his longtime broadcast partner Jim Nantz.

Packer was 82 years old and news of his death was announced by his sons, Mark and Brandt on Twitter Thursday night. As tributes poured in for the late college basketball announcer, Nantz joined CBS Mornings on Friday to eulogize his friend and former colleague.

“I think Billy will go down in history as one of the greatest analysts in the history of sports television,” Nantz said. “I think that when you look at the pantheon of great analysts, you’ve got John Madden and you’ve got Billy Packer. You start right there. He blessed this network for a long time, from 1982 until he retired in 2008. One of my dearest friends. It’s been a restless night thinking of the Packer family, which I’m very close to. I got to speak to Billy the day before he died, and tell him I loved him.”

According to Mark Packer, his father spent the last three weeks in a Charlotte hospital and ultimately died of kidney failure.

“He was a genius,” Nantz added of Packer. “There was no one who could look at the field, in this case, look at the court and see everything. He’s gonna be very much missed. But he loved college basketball and he looked after it as a guardian of the sport. He’s just a giant. And a giant heart, that’s all I can tell you.”

Packer’s long career as an analyst was not without controversy, infamously referring to Allen Iverson as a “tough monkey” in 1996 and refusing to apologize despite receiving just backlash.

Always outspoken and often defiant, Packer served as the lead college basketball analyst for 34 straight NCAA men’s Final Fours, beginning on NBC from 1975-1981 and continuing on CBS until 2008. Throughout his career, Packer worked alongside legendary play-by-play announcers including Curt Gowdy, Dick Enberg, Brent Musburger and Verne Lundquist. But his longest tenured partner was Nantz, with whom he worked alongside from 1991-2008 on CBS.

[CBS Mornings]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com