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Billy Packer Passes Away At 82

An ACC fixture, Packer rose to national prominence with NBC and CBS

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CBS Announcer Billy Packer
MARCH 01: College Basketball: Closeup of CBS media announcer Billy Packer during game, 3/1/1996 
SetNumber: D57966

Billy Packer, who had a long history with the ACC and the NCAA tournament, has died. He was 82.

Packer was recruited by Duke but ended up at Wake Forest.

Born Anthony William Paczkowski - his family Anglicized Paczkowski to Packer in his childhood - Packer was at Wake Forest from 1958 to 1962, helping to lead the team to Wake’s only Final Four in 1962.

He coached briefly before finding his calling behind the mike. He started calling ACC games in 1972 and, obviously gifted, started working for NBC in 1974, though he kept doing ACC games for a time.

One of the best things about Packer was that he never cared in the slightest what anyone thought of him. Packer just said whatever he thought and stuck by it.

He teamed up with the elagant Dick Enberg and eccentric Al McGuire to give the sport one of the all-time great broadcasting teams. Enberg was the steady professional and McGuire was the guy who might say anything at any time, at one point going off on a riff about short-selling being un-American. He really paved the way for Dick Vitale and Bill Walton to take the art of oddness to its logical extreme.

As for Packer, he was laser focused on the games and, given his deep knowledge of the sport, would find things that many of us would miss. You didn't always like him - he would irritate large swathes of his audience on a regular basis - but he was so damn good at his job that you didn’t much care.

Packer has been retired since 2008, but the man did 35 straight Final Fours and did them all well and honestly.

His son Mark, who is now with the ACC Network, tweeted out the news Thursday evening. It’s a great loss to the game in general but he was one of ours before he was national, and North Carolina is where he’ll be missed the most. Godspeed.