Musburger signs extension with ABC, ESPN, SECNetwork, at 77 years old
December 27, 2016 3:01 AM
by Dave Dye
First of 2 parts
When you’ve regularly worked the biggest sporting events during an iconic broadcasting career, how do you narrow down your best memories to just a few?
“That’s very hard,” Brent Musburger said recently during a trip here to call the Las Vegas Bowl for ABC. “I’m hoping it’s the next one.”
Musburger, who signed a contract extension over the summer at the age of 77 to continue broadcasting for the SEC Network, ESPN and ABC, prefers to look forward, not back.
But he’s a fascinating storyteller and did pick out three of the greatest moments over the last five decades, all of which came while he was still working at CBS:
No. 3: On June 4, 1976, Musburger called Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics beating the Phoenix Suns, 128-126, in triple overtime on the way to their 13th championship.
After the Suns had tied the series 2-2, Celtics general Red Auerbach riled up the Boston fans by insinuating that the CBS announcers, Musburger, Rick Barry and Mendy Rudolph, wanted Phoenix to win.
It set up a wild scene on a Friday night at the Boston Garden.
“They’re screaming at us when we get out of the car,” Musburger recalled. “Rick goes into the Suns’ locker room to get the hell away from the fans. Mendy (a former NBA official) goes into the referees’ office. I’m left out there (at courtside) all alone.
“A guy is liquored up and he starts to charge me from the stands. He gets pretty close before security intercepts him. He had fisticuffs on his mind.”
It appeared that the Celtics had won it when John Havlicek hit a bank shot with one second to go in the second overtime. Fans ran on the floor. One of them even attacked official Richie Powers.
The Suns, however, miraculously tied it up again on Garfield Heard’s “moon shot” buzzer beater before Boston finally won in the third OT.
Musburger said he later went up to Auerbach and asked, “What the hell where you thinking?” Red’s response: “I just wanted to get the crowd all fired up.”
“He orchestrated the whole deal,” Musburger said, “got the whole crowd on us so that they were really charged up. It worked.”
Musburger ended the telecast by saying, “Goodbye from the Boston Garden where you have just watched the most incredible game in the history of the NBA.”
No. 2: On April 1, 1985, Musburger was at the mic for Villanova’s shocking upset of Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas, 66-64, in the NCAA championship game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
Musburger said he was talking with Villanova coach Rollie Massimino after a practice leading up to the game.
“You’ve got your hands full with this bunch,” Musburger told him. “You’re in heavy. They’ve got a good chance to get on you.”
Massimino said: “You think we’re going to lose? You know, I like your sport coat. I’ll tell you what. I’ll bet you that sport coat right there that we win this game.”
Musburger told him, “OK, I’ll give you this coat if you win.”
Villanova, a No. 8 seed that was facing a powerhouse trying to win back-to-back national championships, went on to play what many have called “the perfect game” while shooting 78.6 percent from the field.
“I lost a sport coat but gained a great game to call,” Musburger said.
No. 1: On Nov. 23, 1984, Musburger made the call on the famous “Hail Flutie” play as Boston College and quarterback Doug Flutie defeated Miami, 47-45, on a last-second desperation pass.
"I saw that a Boston College player had caught it,” Musburger said. “I knew that it was game over, but I didn’t know who caught it.”
It quickly became a massive pile of BC players celebrating in the end zone. Fortunately for Musburger, he had someone to help him out.
“We had a Boston College graduate in the truck,” Musburger said. “He reached over the producer’s shoulder (to push a button that opened a microphone connected to Musburger’s headset) and said, ‘Brent, it’s Phelan. Gerard Phelan.’ I took his word for it.”
Musburger said he eventually told the story to Flutie, who laughed and admitted, “You know, Brent, I didn’t know who caught it, either. I’m going up the tunnel and I said (to a teammate) ‘Who caught the pass.’ He said, ‘Doug, it was your roommate, Gerard Phelan.’”