They were two men with outsized loves for the game of college basketball who helped the sport grow from a regional curiosity to the national juggernaut it became in the cable-television era.
Dick Vitale and Billy Packer worked for two different networks—Vitale for ESPN, Packer for NBC and CBS—and took two different approaches in conveying their enthusiasm for hoops. But they were united in the fraternity of their sport’s broadcasting giants.
On Friday morning, Vitale took to Twitter to pay tribute to Packer, who died Thursday at the age of 82.
"Your Dad was truly a giant in broadcasting & was someone I had great RESPECT for," Vitale wrote to Packer's son Brandt. "I was always so impressed with his LOVE for his family. May your Dad RIP!"
Packer served as an analyst on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008, and Vitale has worked for ESPN since the 1980 season.
For a brief period of time, both men broadcast NCAA Tournament games, as ESPN held the rights to that tournament's early rounds until CBS gained exclusive rights in 1991.