Dick Vitale is the most influential figure in college basketball since John Wooden.
Are you serious! Are you serious!
Yes, I’m serious. Dickie V is more than just a TV commentator. He is the face and voice of college basketball for 30 years. What Michael Jackson was to MTV, Dick Vitale is to ESPN. Vitale’s enormous popularity extends beyond one sport. He’s a popular culture icon. Heck, he’s probably one of the most influential figures in sports history, and his recent induction into thewas well deserved.
Oh, Oh!….Oh, oh!
The explosion of the NCAA tournament coincided with Vitale’s rise to prominence on cable television. He’s a one-man marketing machine. Vitale made every game he covered for the most important game of the season. His passion and love for the sport filtered through the airwaves and the fans absolutely went Cameron Crazy when he showed up.
It was 1994 and UCLA had just played Arizona in a nationally televised contest. After the game, I headed to the locker room to do gather some postgame quotes. I was working for the Glendale News-Press at the time and I wore my press badge around my neck. Vitale just happened to be walking by with then. I said “Hello” to both. Harrick saw my press pass and said, “Glendale News-Press! Say ‘Hi’ to my good friend John Goffredo.” At the time, Goffredo was the boys’ basketball coach at Crescenta Valley High School. Vitale gave me a head nod and said, “How about that Shon Tarver, baby!” Though the meeting was brief, I was honored just to get some kind of acknowledgement.
I sent him the article I wrote for the News-Press and in return he mailed me his book, “Holding Court: Reflections on the game I love.” To this day, I consider that book one my prized possessions, not because it’s a good read (sorry, Dick), but because of the words written inside the book. It read: JOEL, THANKS. AWESOME BABY. DICK VITALE.
Dick, you’re awesome baby!