CBS’ Clark Kellogg has had a front row seat for Indianapolis’ metamorphosis from sleepy Midwest city to a thriving pro town that also serves as the NCAA’s home.
Kellogg was drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the eighth overall pick in 1983, when Indianapolis was still referred to as “Naptown.” But that was before the city was able to lure the Colts from Baltimore, as well as attracting many amateur events. The crowning jewel was getting the NCAA to move its headquarters from Kansas City in 1999.
“There are a number of key folks that saw sports as a way to drive economic development and to enhance the city. I mean the Indiana Sports Corporation is the forerunner for the sports commissions you see across the country now,” Kellogg said. “That was an amazing period of growth based on the vision and leadership of some key people.”
Indianapolis had already hosted three Final Fours before it became the NCAA’s home base, but the contract guaranteed the city would be a part of the regular rotation.
This is Indianapolis’ eighth Final Four and seventh that will be broadcast by CBS. This will be the sixth that Kellogg has worked, either as an analyst courtside or as part of the pregame crew.
Kellogg’s best memory though was being the courtside analyst in 2010, when Duke held off Butler’s Cinderella bid in the championship game.
“The electricity of Butler there, the theme of David versus Goliath, there was so much there that resonated on so many levels, but the excitement throughout the city was unlike any I’ve experienced,” he said. “We rarely have a hometown team in the Final Four in the home city and so I’m sure being in Indiana just amplified the level.
“Plus it was a dramatic game that came down to a last-second shot (Gordon Hayward’s miracle half-court shot nearly going in). You can’t make this stuff up, and when it happened it’s hard to forget.”
Jim Nantz is doing his 30th Final Four. His first was in the old RCA Dome in 1991, when Duke upset undefeated UNLV in the semifinals and then Kanas in the final. He also counts 2010 as his favorite memory.
Nantz said he drove around the Butler campus the day of the game and then was able to find an open door at Hinkle Fieldhouse so that he could go in and take a look.
“You could just feel there was something magical happening with that team throughout the ride to the championship game. If Hayward’s shot would have dropped, it would have been the greatest finish not only in tournament history but maybe in any sports championship history,” he said.
Grant Hill was on the 1991 Duke team that gave Mike Krzyzewski his first of five NCAA championships. His first Final Four as a CBS analyst was in 2015, when his alma mater beat Wisconsin in the championship game. It was also the last time Indianapolis hosted, until this year.
“Aside from the fact that I had a horrible haircut that I’m often reminded of when they replay moments from that year (in 1991) that was a special time,” Hill said. “A lot of great memories from different segments in my basketball life.”
Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson have fond memories from Arizona’s title run in 1997. Raftery was the radio analyst when the Wildcats denied Kentucky’s bid for repeat titles with an overtime victory.
Raftery was close friends with Arizona coach Lute Olson and remembered the players messing Olson’s perfectly combed gray hair.
Wolfson was a senior at the University of Michigan, but was a production assistant throughout the tournament. During the championship game, she was near the Arizona band, telling them when they could play and when the network was going into and out of commercials.
However, Wolfson’s affinity for Arizona went a bit too far after they won.
“I took to this Arizona team. I just I found them fun,” she said. “As soon as the game ended I remember actually running onto the court celebrating with them and I think it was (producer) Bob Dekas screaming in my ear ‘Get off the court, Tracy.’ It was definitely a special one, and it’s fun to really come full circle now.”