“You are looking live …” — that’s how Brent Musburger began so many of the sports broadcasts he announced during his 40-plus years in the booth. ESPN said today that he is retiring and that the Georgia-Kentucky college basketball game on January 31 will be his last.
“What a wonderful journey I have traveled with CBS and the Disney company,” said Musburger, who spent the past 27 years with ABC/ESPN. “A love of sports allows me to live a life of endless pleasure. And make no mistake, I will miss the arenas and stadiums dearly. Most of all, I will miss the folks I have met along the trail.”
Musberger started out in local TV and radio in 1968 and became the sports anchor at KNXT Los Angeles (now KCBS) in the mid-1970s. From 1978-80, he anchored the local newscasts with Connie Chung before she moved into the national broadcast spotlight and he joined CBS Sports full time.
He became most famous for doing play-by-play for the NBA on CBS during the go-go 1980s, when the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics dominated the league led by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively. His broadcasts alongside color man Tommy Heinsohn, a former Celtic, drew enormous ratings — especially when those rival teams faced off, and especially during the NBA Finals.
Among Musburger’s many career highlights was calling the 1985 Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship, when Villanova stunned heavily favored Georgetown — led by future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing — to win its first title. He also did play-by-play for Super Bowls, NCAA football title games, the Masters, MLB playoffs, Triple Crown horse races and U.S. Open tennis, along with the many memorable NBA games.
“Brent’s presence and delivery have come to symbolize big-time sports for multiple generations of fans,” ESPN President John Skipper said, “When he opens with his signature ‘You are looking live,’ you sit up straight in your chair because you know something important is about to happen. Brent’s catalog of big events is unmatched, and he has skillfully guided us through some of the most dramatic and memorable moments in sports with his authentic and distinctive style. He is one of the best story-tellers to ever grace a sports booth.”