Incredibly, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Game of the Century”: the epic 1968 matchup between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 University of Houston. The game was a game-changer in the truest sense—a paradigm shift for college basketball. It was significant to the sport and also to the legendary sports broadcaster who called it: Dick Enberg.
On Jan. 20, 1968, Enberg was just 33 years old and making his first national primetime telecast debut when he called play-by-play for the Game of the Century, the first regular season college basketball game ever to air on national television. He later said it was the most meaningful of his career.
“It set the standard and orchestrated what the future was going to be,” said Enberg, while visiting the University of Houston in November 2017. “Historically (it was) the most important game in college basketball history.”
Enberg made his last TV appearance while filming the CBS Sports documentary “History in the Astrodome - 1968: UCLA vs. Houston” at the Moores Opera House. Six weeks after vividly recalling the game that launched the beloved broadcaster’s career and changed the game forever, Enberg passed away. He was 82.
Enberg joined CBS Sports broadcaster and UH alumnus Jim Nantz for the roundtable discussion. The event, filmed for a documentary that debuted in January, included members of the 1967-68 team Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney, and CBS Sports analyst Seth Davis.
“That night (of the UH panel discussion) was a rich experience in so many ways, but with the passing of Dick Enberg it takes on a whole new meaning,” Nantz told the Houston Chronicle. “My family was in the audience my Cougar family was in the audience, and I was with a man that I have looked up to and cherished for years who became a friend and a mentor to me.”
Earlier this year while calling the Patriots-Titans NFL playoff game, Nantz reflected on being a part of Enberg’s last television show.
“To think about the symmetry of this: His first and ‘most meaningful’ broadcast was UCLA-Houston, where the nation was eyewitness finally to his magical prose. And now, he’s looking back on it 50 years later, and then he’s gone … How does that work?”