Nantz not alone among broadcasters who have given players mementos

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HOUSTON — In the immediate aftermath of Villanova’s thrilling, buzzer-beating national championship win over North Carolina on Monday, CBS Sports cameras caught broadcaster Jim Nantz removing his necktie and handing it to bewildered Wildcats guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who moments earlier had been named Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The 56-year-old Nantz later explained he annually gives the necktie he wears during the championship broadcast to the player who most inspires him during the game.

Intrigued by Nantz’s self-important gesture, In Poor Taste asked a handful of highly regarded college basketball broadcasters if they had ever gifted a player after a memorable performance. Somewhat surprisingly, many acknowledged they had.

Verne Lundquist — “After that epic title game between Duke and Butler, I gave (Butler forward) Gordon Hayward a half-empty bottle of expired diabetes meds that I found in my breast pocket earlier that day while eating lunch. I hadn’t worn that particular suit in years and Hayward’s championship game performance, even in defeat, merited something special. He thanked me and noted that the pills might come in handy if he ever found himself battling morbid obesity and living in the past.”

Dick Vitale — “I’ve given every player I’ve ever spoken with the creeps. Does that count?”

Brad Nessler — “I won’t tell you the player’s name, but I once gave a player at New Mexico under (former Lobos coach) Dave Bliss a stern talking-to about how he could be a better teammate. All he told me, and he said this in a very threatening, menacing and unhinged way, was, ‘I’ll show you how good a teammate I can be.’ I never heard from him again, though, so nothing must have come of it.”

Greg Anthony — “This wasn’t really a gift, but I once asked (Florida guard) Scottie Wilbekin to clean the serial number off a handgun I had recently used in the commission of a still unsolved armed robbery. He said he would do it for a price, but I haven’t seen that gun since.”

Mike Patrick — “I’m not necessarily proud of this, but I once gave every player on the 1986 Duke men’s basketball team a wicked case of genital herpes. Don’t ask how I gave it to every one of them. Just know that I did.”

Mike Gminski — “I was months in arrears on my child support payments in 1995, so I handed Michigan’s Ray Jackson some family court papers and asked if he could help a brother out so one of my baby mamas could pay for the Pampers. I knew Ray was making more that year as a senior at Michigan than I’d ever made in the NBA, and Ray and I had always had a good working relationship. He handed the papers to an assistant coach and said it would be taken care of. And it was.”

Jay Bilas — “I’ve never given a player anything, but that perverted bastard Mike Patrick once gave me a horrible case of genital herpes. Deviant sonofabitch.”

Kevin Harlan — “I once gave (Ohio State guards) Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd the key to my hotel room, only I didn’t tell them a seasoned hooker I hired was going to be there waiting for the both of them while I hid inside a nearby armoire. I like to watch.”

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