Received a nice holiday gift yesterday. Dan Sabreen of CBS Sports PR asked if I wanted to talk to Verne Lundquist.
Most definitely. Lundquist is an all-time favorite and one of the true all-world nice guys.
The focus of our interview is the kickoff of CBS’ special programming celebrating 75 years of the NCAA basketball tournament. The series begins Saturday, Dec. 29 (2 p.m. ET) with two shows: 75 years: Behind the Mic and 75 years: A Coach’s Perspective.
Lundquist has a segment in the “Mic” show. Naturally, it centers on his call of the best college basketball game of all-time: Duke-Kentucky in 1992 and the legendary Laettner shot. Below, Lunquist, Len Elmore, who was the analyst for that game, and Laettner recall an interesting incident from earlier in the game.
Here’s my Q/A with Lundquist on his memories of calling that game.
You went more than 10 years without watching a replay of that game. Why?
I thought I had a good broadcast. The truth of the matter is I didn’t want to intrude on the reality of my memories. I didn’t want to look at the tape and say, ‘For crying out loud, why did I do that?’
About 10 years ago, Billy Raftery and I were getting ready to do Marquette-Kentucky (in the NCAA tournament). He called and said they were airing the game on ESPN Classic. He knew I hadn’t watched it. I picked it up midway through the game. At the end, I thought I did a pretty good job.
What was going through your mind as Grant Hill got ready through the in-bounds pass?
At first, I was surprised that Rick Pitino didn’t have anyone guard him. I think if Rick had one do-over, he would have put somebody 6-8 on him.
Then for a split second, I remembered I announced Grant Hill’s birth on a Dallas TV station. His father, Calvin, and I were good friends. Now here’s this guy (Grant) about to throw in the pass. I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ It was very personal to me.
What was your assessment of the final call?
You hope you get the call right. Mine wasn’t particularly brilliant. I channeled my inner Marv Albert and yelled ‘Yes!’
Somebody once asked if I was proud of that call? I’m proud I didn’t muck it up. It wasn’t an innovative piece of broadcasting, but it captured the moment. Len and I then had the good sense to shut up and let (director Mike Arnold) do his job.