Billy Packer, Straight-Talking College Basketball Analyst, Dies at 82
With partners on NBC and then CBS, and with a rapid, opinionated style, he was heard during every N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament from 1975 to 2008.
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
By Richard Sandomir.
Billy Packer, the sharp-eyed, opinionated lead college basketball analyst for NBC and CBS whose commentary was heard during every Final Four game of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament from 1975 to 2008, died on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. He was 82.
His son Brandt said the cause was kidney failure.
A former point guard and assistant coach at Wake Forest University, Mr. Packer began as a broadcast analyst in the early 1970s as the men’s tournament, and especially the Final Four, became the signature sports event known as March Madness. He took to the national stage easily with a fast-talking, straightforward style and opinions that provoked strong feelings among fans.
“He had the ability to make every fan base feel he was against them, and he relished that role,” Jim Nantz, who became Mr. Packer’s partner at CBS Sports in 1991, said in a phone interview on Friday. “He wore the black hat better than anyone I’d ever seen.” He added: “North Carolina thought he was in the bag for Duke. Duke thought he was pro-North Carolina. He loved it.”
At NBC Sports, Mr. Packer worked with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire, a former coach at Marquette University, forming one of the most popular announcing teams in sports. Mr. Packer and Mr. McGuire had different views not just of basketball but also of the world, and they played off each other well, with Mr. Enberg acting as the straight man.
Their partnership broke up in 1981, when the tournament’s television rights were acquired by CBS. Switching networks, Mr. Packer worked with several partners, including Brent Musburger and Mr. Nantz, with whom he stayed until he retired in 2008.
Mr. Packer was largely serious on the air, without any schtick, unlike ESPN’s exuberant Dick Vitale; he stuck instead to X’s and O’s and strategy, with a healthy dose of opinion about the game he was watching and the state of college basketball.
“The poor guy is so serious about basketball that he can’t have any fun with it,” Mr. McGuire once said. “It’s all life or death. There’s no in-between with Billy. If it’s on his mind, it jumps out of his mouth. But bless his heart, his mind is just as fast as his mouth.”
In 2004, Mr. Packer excoriated St. Joseph’s University as a No. 1 seed in its region in the N.C.A.A. tournament. The next year, he criticized N.C.A.A. officials for choosing some mid-major conference teams for the tournament while excluding teams from larger conferences that he deemed better.
More problematic was the time in 1996 when he called the Georgetown University guard Allen Iverson, who is Black, a “tough little monkey.” He apologized on the air, saying he had not intended the comment to be racial. “Al Capone was a tough monkey,” he said. “Mike Ditka was a tough monkey. Bobby Hurley was a tough monkey.”
In 2000, he snapped at two female students who were checking press passes at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, saying, according to news reports, “Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game?” He later apologized.
Anthony William Paczkowski was born on Feb. 25, 1940, in Wellsville, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania border, and moved to Bethlehem, Pa., where his father, also named Anthony, was hired to coach the Lehigh University men’s basketball team. The elder Mr. Packer changed the family name soon afterward. Billy’s mother, Lois (Cruikshank) Packer, was a homemaker.
Billy played guard at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and led the team to two Atlantic Coast Conference titles and to the Final Four in 1962, which the Demon Deacons lost to Ohio State. He totaled 1,316 points in his career, finishing second in scoring in each of his three years.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1962 and returned to Wake Forest in 1966 as an assistant coach. He held that job until 1970 while also working in the furniture business. In the early 1970s, while Mr. Packer was sales manager for a radio station in Winston-Salem, a friend asked him to fill in for the announcer of an A.C.C. game being televised by a syndicator.
“I wasn’t nervous,” he told The Chapel Hill News in 1974. “I figured I’d just walk in and tell the people what I saw, and that’s it. And that’s been my approach throughout.”
He became a regular on syndicated broadcasts and was hired by NBC in 1974, putting him in place to be at the center of college basketball for the next 34 years. He was there for John Wooden’s last game as the U.C.L.A coach in 1975; the title-game victory of Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team over Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in 1979; North Carolina State’s last-second win over Houston to win the 1983 championship; and the successes of Duke, Indiana, Louisville, Kansas and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“He knew the game — cold,” Kevin O’Malley, the former CBS Sports executive who hired Mr. Packer in 1981, wrote in an email. He added, “Billy was the best basketball analyst at doing one very important thing in a fast-paced game — ‘see it and say it.’ He wasted no words and reacted to what he saw on the floor instantaneously — a really invaluable trait for the broadcast.”
After retiring from CBS, Mr. Packer was replaced by Clark Kellogg.
In addition to his son Brandt, a golf producer at NBC Sports and Golf Channel, Mr. Packer is survived by another son, Mark, the host of a daily television program on the ACC Network, which covers A.C.C. sports; his daughter, Liz Kimberly; four grandchildren; his sister, Carol Dague; and his brother, Richard. His wife, Barbara (Sucansky) Packer, died last year.
Mr. Packer said that broadcasting was a hobby for him, compared with his interests in real estate and golf course development and art collecting. He also pursued other paths: He hired a psychic to find the knife used in the murders of O.J. Simpson’s former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. And he started a defense fund for Richard Jewell, the security guard who was wrongly suspected of planting a pipe bomb in Atlanta that killed one person and injured more than 100 during the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Mr. Packer had an entrepreneurial streak that he demonstrated on the Friday before the 1995 Final Four at the Kingdome in Seattle. Bryant Reeves, the Oklahoma State center, shattered the backboard on a layup drill during the team’s practice, sending pieces of it all over the court. Mr. Packer went after the shards, stuffing his pockets with pieces shaped like three- or four-carat diamonds.
Justice Department Investigation TikTok Owner for Spying on U.S. Journalists: Reports
The company admitted in December that some of its employees improperly accessed the data of U.S. journalists in a bid to uncover the source of leaks.
The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating the parent company of the popular social media app TikTok for surveilling American citizens, including journalists.
According to reports, federal authorities began their investigation late last year, after TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. acknowledged that some of its employees improperly accessed journalists’ location data and other private data. Forbes was the first to report the investigations.
The investigation comes amid scrutiny of the app and a hardening policy stance by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and the White House over concerns that China is using the app to gather data on American citizens and influence elections.
ByteDance is based in China and has ties to the Chinese government. The app is banned from federal government devices, government devices in more than two dozen states and those in several European countries.
The FBI and the Justice Department are part of an agency called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which has asked ByteDance to divest from the U.S. arm of the app – or face a potential nationwide ban, which the White House has signaled it might support.
Former President Donald Trump in 2020 issued an executive order that effectively forced the company to divest of its U.S.-held assets, drawing on emergency economic powers. Despite several reports that a sale was imminent, no agreement was reached. The order did not survive legal challenges in federal court and was ultimately revoked by President Joe Biden.
The latest request has come amid ongoing negotiations between the company and the government over its ownership and the storage of data belonging to Americans. ByteDance has previously proposed another plan whereby the data from U.S. users would be stored in the U.S. and managed by a U.S.-based team.
ByteDance said in December that the employees who accessed the journalist’s data did so in a bid to uncover the source of leaks. Those employees have been fired, it said.
Federal prosecutors in Virginia are also investigating ByteDance, according to reports. TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week.
Dating back to the first vending machine developed in London in the early 1880s to sell postage stamps, autonomous shopping has had a long history.
In 2018, there were an estimated 350 stores in the world offering a fully autonomous checkout process — and this is expected to grow further with 10k autonomous stores anticipated by 2024.
But since then, consumer preferences have shifted: There’s an increased demand for personalisation, on-demand delivery, sustainable consumer choices and the growth of AI.
So how have autonomous stores been affected by these new market trends — and is the sector still on track to hit 10k stores in 2024? Sifted sat down with the experts to find out.
An increased demand for personalisation
Scaling personalisation has been shown to be one of the key retail trends of 2023. Consumers respond well to personalisation throughout the shopping process — from sales and marketing to upselling and after-sales support.
Brands are increasingly relying on consumer data, algorithms and online surveys to fulfil this growing demand for customised products.
For Natasha Thakkar, head of marketing at AiFi, an AI-powered platform that helps retailers scale autonomous shopping solutions, the boom in AI presents the perfect opportunity for it to be used more widely in enabling personalisation in autonomous shopping.
“AI analyses consumer purchase patterns, previous transactions, interests, demographics and other relevant data to help suggest personalised recommendations to the consumer,” she says. “This increases the likelihood of them making a purchase and interacting with the brand more frequently.
Paweł Grabowski, head of unmanned solutions at Żabka Future, a unit of Żabka Group that fosters innovation and finds businesses increasing the value of the convenience store chain, says that autonomous stores (Żabka Nano) allow them to deliver a personalised experience in the offline world. It now operates over 50 stores, making Żabka Nano the largest chain of autonomous stores in Europe.
“It’s like ecommerce shopping, but within brick and mortar — we can collect customer data and track the customer journey at all the stages, which allows us to build advanced analytics, including sales funnel or advanced shopping history based on events.
“The data, combined with our mobile app, enable us to personalise communication, offer and even discount coupons to the customers,” he says.
On-demand delivery and flexible lifestyles
The pandemic drove up the demand for quick online shopping — also known as quick commerce or qcommerce. But now, there’s a shift back to offline shopping and consumers are increasingly opting for a hybrid approach — a mix of online and offline shopping.
40% of consumers who intend to increase in-store shopping and decrease online shopping say it’s because delivery costs are too high.
The experts say that a hybrid approach is the way to go for all brands.
“Both autonomous stores and quick online shopping educate people on how to do grocery shopping differently. We believe in the synergy between those business models,” Grabowski says. “Customers are expecting a complete ecosystem of convenience solutions. Qcommerce is based on dark stores located in good city spots. What if autonomous technology can extend their role to them? Dark stores can then serve both as warehouses and come-and-grab stores for the local community.”
Emanuel de Bellis, associate professor and director of the Institute of Behavioral Science and Technology at the University in St. Gallen, Switzerland, says that he sees autonomous technology working better for quick shopping in local stores. De Bellis’s research focuses on how consumers perceive and use new technologies.
“I don’t see a future with larger stores that are fully autonomous because I don’t really see the incremental benefit — the technology works better for smaller local stores where you can just grab a couple of things,” he says.
Additionally, autonomous stores also give brands the flexibility to operate within settings which were traditionally considered unusual for stores. The ATX Market at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas, recently became the first soccer stadium in the world to introduce a checkout-free store.
“Our stores are located in the middle of the offices, dormitories, gyms and inside other stores,” Grabowski adds. “Autonomous stores can provide convenience services in locations where traditional retailers are unable to operate.”
Sustainable consumer choices
Given inflation and the downturn, this may be the right time for brands to leverage technology to improve their offerings and come up with innovative ways for consumers to shop and save.
“Since there’s no checkout staff operating autonomous stores, retailers can operate them 24/7,” says Thakkar. “This not only provides more convenience to the customers, but also helps in increasing the revenue and significantly decreasing operating costs, thereby increasing overall store efficiency.”
Consumers are also increasingly shifting towards conscious shopping habits — buying decisions revolving around ethics, environmentalism and sustainability, regardless of macroeconomic conditions. A 2023 survey shows that 78% of consumers prioritise sustainability.
Grabowski says that at Żabka Group, the business and ESG strategies are interlinked. For example, the stores use only energy from renewable sources.
“Since there’s no checkout staff operating autonomous stores, retailers can operate them 24/7″
“Another crucial element is reducing food wastage: our store is data-driven, so for example, we can accurately predict the demand for fresh products,” he says.
De Bellis says that this also points towards a possible future where human intervention for grocery shopping can be completely eliminated — homes and retailers would be interconnected to predict the items and quantities that need to be purchased and replaced.
“With large amounts of data, it could check what’s in your fridge, for instance, or it could also be connected to many more things such as your blood glucose level and order specific things depending on how healthy you are,” he adds.
“It’s something that we can expect only in the distant future, but are slowly moving towards.”
Why Do Your Customers Really Buy from You?
The following is a simple question for business owners. Why do your customers buy from you?
I told you the question was simple, but an accurate answer, on the other hand, can be far more complex and perhaps even elusive. To achieve long-term, sustainable success, your understanding of why your customers choose to do business with your company needs to be both correct and substantial.
Many business owners develop a customer value proposition (CVP) alongside their company mission and vision statements. The brief declaration is supposed to document why a customer would opt to buy your product or service over the competition.
While developing a CVP is commendable in its customer-centric approach, it often falls short of its intended purpose due to ambiguity, a lack of self-reflection and sometimes even outright insincerity. Dollars to doughnuts, there is not a single CVP out there that reads, “Our customers turn to us because we deliver lackluster service and a marginally good product.”
Related: Who Is More Important — Your Customers or Your Employees?.
I would also assume that there are many businesses whose CVPs portray an exaggerated sense of the company’s true customer value. CVPs should never be created based on hype or manufactured mantras; instead built from sincere, astute insight.
Bravado and disingenuousness are not the only ways business owners are misguided in their understanding of customer engagement and loyalty. The following are common misconceptions related to the question of why customers buy from you.
“We are the cheapest”
Sure, this value statement might be dressed up as “We deliver the best value,” “We are the low-price leaders,” or some other cost-based differentiator. But when I hear any form of “My customers buy from us because we are the cheapest,” I cringe. Competing on price alone is simply not a good model and is often unsustainable. There is always some other business owner who is willing to run out of cash faster than you are.
Most customers – both B2B and B2C – understand the balance between cost and value. They walk that tightrope in every purchase they make. Contending that cheapest is the key attribute that keeps them coming back shortchanges both your business and your customers.
“We have the best employees”
Forgive me for being a bit skeptical about this assertion as well. Sure, your business may have good employees; but are they really the best? You may provide excellent service, but your competitors probably do as well. Is it truly your employees that keep your customers coming back? With the rare exception of that ultra-charismatic salesperson who charms the socks of buyers, the answer in all likeliness is a resounding no.
That is not to say that hiring for personality and alignment with company values is unimportant. It most definitely is. But to put the onus of success and customer loyalty squarely on the shoulders of your employees is shortsighted.
Related: 3 Reasons Why I Gladly Welcome Competition
“We’ve got the best product on the market”
While possessing a corner on the market is a great position to be in, it does not account for innovations in the marketplace and often fickle changes in consumer preferences. Evolving customer motivations and expectations, coupled with aging business models, have been the downfall of even some of the most successful industry titans.
Leadership11 months ago
Brain Behind Multi-Million Dollar Beauty Brands Launches Skin Care Line for Women 50+
Innovation11 months ago
Melinda Herron Created a Niche for Marketing Men’s Grooming Products, Launches 103 Collection in National Retail￼
Leadership10 months ago
Dario Gainza Raises The Bar In The Miami Luxury Vehicle Rental Industry
Innovation11 months ago
“The Millionaire Maker”
Money10 months ago
Rueda Empire signs $3.7 million deal to further its music career
Innovation11 months ago
5 Innovative Mother’s Day Gifts for the Beauty Lover in Your Life
Music11 months ago
Rueda Empire: The successful Music Producer
Innovation9 months ago
Arielle Brown Created a Skin Care Line to Address Scalp Issues, and Promote a Healthy Hair Care Regimen