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Bill Raftery Still Going Strong As He Gets Ready To Call His Fifth Final Four

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 3/20/2019 Jimmy Traina
Jim Nantz wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone © Getty Images

The latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina features an interview with the legendary Bill Raftery, who is getting ready to call the Final Four on CBS for the fifth year in a row.

Raftery joined CBS in 1986, but was not given the opportunity to work with the lead broadcast team for the NCAA Tournament until 2015 after Greg Anthony has been arrested for solicitation. What did it mean to him to get bumped from the No. 2 team to the lead team with Jim Nantz and Grant Hill? 

"I never looked ahead or tried to want something or covet something," Raftery said on the podcast. "I just did whatever I was assigned to do and never even thought that this would happen. You know, some unfortunate circumstances obviously and [CBS Sports President] Sean [McManus] was nice enough to give me a chance. It's like one of those things you don't say no. But if it never happened, it would not have been the end of the world for me. ... I just try and stay on balance about it and yet realize how fortunate I am that Sean gave me an opportunity.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

In addition, Raftery riffed on several other topics during the podcast:

On his famous catchphrases:

"I try and be as modest with it as I can. You know, not bore people, but certain things just seem to fit. And I try and use it them, but I don't want to be known as just having sayings. You know what I mean? I'd rather do some quality work. If it it can be descriptive, it's great. It saves a lot of airtime."

On his catchphrases resonating with fans:

"Some of them, I never knew I was saying, like 'man-to-man' was 'MANTOMAN' until different times at the airport. When I was a little younger, somebody would say 'MANTOMAN', and I'm thinking, 'What the heck's wrong with that guy?’ A lot of it I just did to get out of the play-by-play guy's way. Describe the defense and then he would set up the players, etc. But, yeah, it is fun to hear them. You do hear a lot of them as you walk through." 

The iconic "Send It In, Jerome" moment:

"Sometimes I'll have a young person say, 'Send it in, Jerome," and I'm going, ‘Boy, you were not there at the Pitt game. And that game at Fitzgerald [Field House] when Jerome Lane dunked the ball, we had not really seen that. I think Daryl Dawkins had had a dunk and broke a backboard in high school prior to that, but we've never seen it in public because I basically couldn't touch the net when I played on a running jump, but it was amazing how many people over the years said they were there. I think Fitzgerald had about 6,500 in it and it seems like there were 10,000 or 12,000 and everybody's got a piece of glass they tell me. It is incredible the way things carry on over the years. ESPN a few years ago had a bunch of us down in Charlotte for a coaches thing, you know pre-tournament, and they surprised me because it was the date of the Jerome Lane dunk. They had Jerome on a two-way. He said to me, ‘Thanks Mr. Raf for making me famous.’ And I said to him, ‘Thanks, Jerome for making me famous.’ The cute thing he said was when he would tell his son to do things on the court, and you know, typical son that figured the father doesn't know anything, and they would replay that play and the kid finally realized his father must have been really good."

Related slideshow: Best of the NCAA Tournament (Provided by imagn)

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