Note: I wrote the bulk of the following three years ago for my friends, and have reposted it (slightly edited) on this week every year since. It's not nearly as funny as I thought it was at the time, but it's still tradition.
We are officially less than 72 hours away from the commencement of the greatest sporting event in the world, which means that we're less than 72 hours away from CBS commentator Jim Nantz becoming the most powerful and influential man in America for a month.
Anyone who knows me knows that since a young age I've had a strange obsession with Nantz. To me, Nantz has always been like that really weird book or movie that you hate, but are so fascinated by that you have to read or watch it over and over.
So the following is a compilation dedicated to the greatest hyperbolist of our time: James Williams Nantz III. But before we dive straight into the quotes that made the man a legend, let's start with some Nantz facts:
-Played golf at the University of Houston
-Teammate of Fred Couples
-Plays golf occasionally with President George W. Bush from time to time.
-Won "sports broadcaster of the year" award in 2005. (seriously?)
-2005 was the 20th year he has called the Final Four.
-Native of Charlotte
And Now the Quotes:
"A win for the ages." -- (1997 Master's Golf Tournament)
We're staring out simple with what is probably Nantz's most famous quote. He uttered this obviously planned out and slightly corny line as Tiger Woods made his final putt on the 18th green at Augusta to claim his first green jacket. Nothing fancy, but '97 was like Natz's A Hard Days Night phase.
"You can leave it to Cleaves."-- (2000 National Championship Game)
Now things are starting to pick up.
This gem is a reference to Michigan State's star guard Mateen Cleaves that uses his last name as a pun on the TV show Leave it to Beaver. Nantz probably realized that Cleaves and Beaver don't actually rhyme, but then right after that he probably thought, "fuck it, I'm Jim Nantz."
Jim Nantz stares down an inferior commentator
"Just when you think you can't, you can, and UCONN has won the national championship."-- (1999 National Championship Game)
One of the all-time greats. Nantz decides he's going to tarnish what was one of the best games of the 90's by uttering this line that obviously took him no less than eight days to concoct. This coupled with having to look at Kahlid El-Amin's ranting fat ass made UCONN's win over Duke a bitter pill to swallow for me.
"Some have suggested that the battle between Okafor and Schenscher is as good as any in the championship game since Olajuwon and Ewing."-- (2004 National Championship Game)
Uhhh, yeah it was. Schenscher against himself (internal conflict while playing during a game when he starts to feel bad for having sex with so many gorgeous women) would make Russell/Chamberlain look like Rupaul vs. Steve from Blue's Clues.
"I'm blessed to have great friends, and there are a lot of men in my life who've been more than just friends."-- (Golf Digest, April 2005)
Mmmm yeah, let me just let that sink in a little bit...all right now I want you to read the quote again, but imagine Jim Nantz's voice saying it dead seriously with that same smug Nantz tone...Oh yeah, absolutely fantastic.
Nantz speaks to his cult in August 2005
"A milestone victory for Arizona."--(1997 National Championship Game)
This quote is in reference to star Arizona guard Miles Simon who was named Final Four MVP, and had an amazing championship game helping Arizona defeat Kentucky. One of the first great Nantz quotes I can remember hearing.
QUOTE OFTEN MISTAKENLY ATTRIBUTED TO JIM NANTZ:
"Simon says championship"--Billy Packer.
Packer took some time off from telling us which shots were good and which were bad after the player had already taken them and keeping tabs on whether or not the bank was, in fact, open, to hit us with this brilliant play on words. People often claim this quote for Nantz when it was actually said by Packer immediately after Jim's "Milestone Victory" line. (Seriously, when is Bill Raftery going to get to call a Final Four?)
"The Huskies have determined the dress code so far: no jackets, no ties."-- (2004 National Championship Game)
Jim was on fire (unfortunately figuratively) during 2004's biggest game which pitted the Connecticut Huskies against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The line was delivered as the game headed to its first commercial break and UCONN had taken the early lead.
The "no Jackets" is obviously a reference to Tech's nickname, and the "no ties" is because, well, the game wasn't tied. Ok, so the guy isn't Shakespeare but he's pretty fucking close. Maybe Dickens...or Joyce (Nantz is Irish, right?).
Nantz socializes with regular people before sprinting
home to take a piping hot shower to take care of the stench
"A siren just went off as Tiger was about to hit his shot. Someone might be trying to steal his green jacket, his name is Mike Weir."--(2005 Master's Golf Tournament)
This is Nantz at his finest because the line obviously wasn't planned. I bet Nantz would be amazing on "Who' s Line" or something else where he got a chance to showcase his improv skills. Nantz vs. Robin Williams in a one night only, no holds barred improv-off...gold. Think about it CBS. No one's gonna miss Yes Dear for a night.
"The 'mecca of college basketball is in Storrs, Connecticut."-- (2004 National Championship Game)
Some athletes talk about periods of time in games where they feel like they are unconscious and can't even really control what they are doing, they feel the game flow in and out of them and dominate without even really trying. Such was the case with commentator Jim Nantz in early April of 2004.
This is the third quote from this one game to make the list, and is a reference to UCONN star center Emekka Okafor. Nantz was in the zone all night, saying later: "A good friend of mine used to say, 'This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.' Think about that for a while."
Three of the most powerful men in America:
Goerge H.W. Bush, some oil guy and Nantz
"It began in March, ended in April and belongs to May."-- (2005 National Championship Game)
This was Nantz's game ending quote in '05, with the "May" being a reference to North Carolina center Sean May. Another scripted line, but scripted or not the American audience always gives out a collective agitated groan. I always know it's coming and I'm still pissed when I hear it.
"There's a new Dean in college basketball."-- (2005 National Championship Game)
A reference to first year North Carolina coach Roy Williams officially taking over the tradition that Dean Smith began with the Tar Heels. Either that or Nantz was so coked out that he thought Smith was still the coach. I like scenario two more.
Lanny Wadkins: "I understand that Clark relaxed last night by seeing the movie Snakes on a Plane"
Jim Nants: "Yes, and now he has to worry about a Tiger on the course." --(2006 Master's Golf Tournament)
Believe it or not I didn't actually get to hear this one, but it was called in to me by multiple friends almost simultaneously. Because everyone knows that if you hear an awful Natz-ism and don't call me immediately, we're more than likely not going to be friends for much longer.
And there you have it, but fear not basketball lovers for the NCAA Tournament is merely hours away. Keep your ears open and you might just catch a Nantz gem this weekend. Also keep a toilet and garbage can near because when you hear it some form of waste is probably going to want to immediately escape from your body.