Blythe: Billy Packer's Greatest Moment

Illustration for article titled Blythe: Billy Packer's Greatest Moment

We are quite honored today to welcome once again Will Blythe, the former literary editor of Esquire and author of the great book "To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever", to the warm embrace of Deadspin. (We interviewed Blythe about the book when it came out in hardcover. The paperback is out now.


Blythe's book tracks the history of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry and looks at why Duke is evil and North Carolina is all that is pure about this planet earth. The season he writes about in the book ended with the Tar Heels beating our Illini in the national championship game, but he's so freaking good that we only slightly begrudge him this.

After the jump, he wraps up a big win for the Heels over the beloved Blue Devils.


The weeping is over now. The cameras have stopped panning for tears. The abandoned tents of Krzyzewskiville flap in the wind. Soon that UN refugee camp for the rich victims of Wednesday night's catastrophe will be bulldozed. Donations may be made on behalf of the unfortunate through Deadspin, which will make sure that the money reaches its proper destination. (Ed. Note: As long as we don't use Paypal!)


A straggling thought or two on last night's Duke-Carolina slugfest:

If Deadspin readers are any indication, there's some animosity brewing out there in America towards both Duke and Carolina, otherwise known as the douchemongers and the twatwaffles, as one reader so eloquently put it. I blame ESPN for cramming the rivalry down the novelty-starved throat of America, and for leading the gullible to believe that Duke and North Carolina may be viewed interchangeably.


Admittedly, the game itself was ugly. To use the standards of "American Bandstand," it lacked a good beat. Maybe the defense was that savage, maybe the offense (until very late for North Carolina) was that bad. But there was just no rhythm. As my friend Doug put it, there was a lot of "thwartedness" going on. Even so, even so, my cantankerous Deadspin friends, the game possessed an intensity that Marquette versus Peoria State has tended to lack.

Astonishingly, however, the game gave rise to miniature golf tycoon Billy Packer's finest moment as a sportscaster and human being. Only those of us in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, where the ESPN broadcast was fortunately blacked out, sparing us the passion of Dick Vitale, got to hear Packer on the local broadcast. In the second half, just as the Tar Heels began to close on the Blue Devils, Packer started to obsess on-air about Duke's unseemly decision to credit the team's losses during the star-crossed season of 1995 to Krzyzewski's assistant Pete Gaudet. That was the season that Coach K took a powder, as it were, for his bad back and disappeared from public view like an actor going to rehab. "I think the losses should be credited to Krzyzewski," Packer ranted.


But it wasn't enough for him to assert his own view. He then proceeded to lasso his broadcast partner into the debate. "What do you think?" Packer asked, bullying his colleague the same way the Blue Devils were knocking Tyler Hansbrough around. His partner kept trying to evade the question by paying tribute to the game's marvelous freshmen. "Let's talk about the freshmen," he said.

Packer wasn't having it. While clips ran of Duke's Jon Scheyer bombing from three and North Carolina's Brandan Wright hooking and dunking inside, he forced his partner to chime in with his own opinion (as if he cared). "I think the losses should go to Krzyzewski," his partner grudgingly agreed.


Billy, I admit that I joined an entire coliseum in booing you at the ACC Tournament in 2005 when you received an award for your contributions to the league. To be honest, I booed until I was hoarse. So did everyone seated around me. Wake fans, State fans, UNC fans — you brought us all together in a moment of mystical harmony. We all thought of you as an insufferable, sour-spirited know-it-all. But now I see a prophet without honor in his own land who speaks truth to power. I love you, man.