Dick Vitale got a standing ovation before he even entered the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Feb. 6. Students waiting in line for that night's North Carolina-Duke game were cheering, "Dickie V! Dickie V!" as the popular and loquacious ESPN analyst arrived five hours before tip-off. Their cheering, he says, "brought me to tears."
This wasn't just the emotional candor sports fans have come to expect from college basketball's most famous voice. The 68-year-old Vitale was making his return to TV after two months in which he had undergone and recovered from throat surgery, followed a month later by a prostate operation.
"I feel like I am 12 years old again," Vitale says from his home in Sarasota, Florida. "When I was laid up, I felt like I was my age, and I don't ever want to feel that way again."
For three seasons, Vitale struggled with a raspy and hoarse throat, w
He's back, baby! College basketball's most famous voice returns to the airwaves Wednesday night, when Dick Vitale calls the North Carolina/Duke game (Feb. 6, 9 pm/ET, ESPN). The energetic sportscaster has been off the air for two months, recuperating from surgery to remove ulcerous lesions on his left vocal chord. Though the lesions turned out to be non-cancerous, "It was a very emotional time the last few months," a chatty Vitale said Monday on a conference call with reporters. "There was a moment there I thought Id never be behind a microphone again."Vitale had surgery on Dec. 18, following a few years of increasing throat problems. "Ive really gone though a tough, tough time," he says. "I did a great job of bluffing it
and I was able to get through the telecasts over the last couple years, but Im gonna tell you, every game I was a worried, nervous wreck as to what was coming out of my throat, because my throat was really a problem. It was really, really bo...
This just in from ESPN:"ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale had successful surgery today to treat ulcers on his left vocal chord. Vitale plans to return to the air in early February. He will continue to provide his college basketball observations on ESPN.com and dickvitaleonline.com while he recuperates. "'College basketball fans will miss Dick's enthusiasm in the coming weeks. But we are delighted to learn his surgery was a success and we all wish him a speedy recovery,' said ESPN president George Bodenheimer."
The 2007 NCAA College Basketball tournament is officially under way, driving even the most casual hoops fan into a state of excitement known as March Madness. Yet when it comes to frenzied fandom, no one holds a candle to Dick Vitale. After leaving the coaching ranks in 1979, Dickie V began his college-basketball broadcasting career with a then-fledgling cable sports network known as ESPN. Since that time, the Passaic, New Jersey, native has become a household name with his signature brand of unbridled enthusiasm. To celebrate this athletic rite of spring, TVGuide.com recently spoke with Vitale about the tourney, endorsing Hooters, and his latest nomination to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
TVGuide.com: Do I even need to ask if March is your favorite month?Dick Vitale: You know, March Madness to me is so unique in that it captivates fans of all ages and creates such an unbelievabl