Feast Week features wall-to-wall college basketball coverage with intriguing matchups across the United States and beyond. It is common for diehards to be able to watch games morning, noon and night, and the best game of the week, at least on paper, arrived on Tuesday with a battle between No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 UCLA in Las Vegas. While that headline-grabbing matchup was intriguing enough from a basketball standpoint, as it pit two teams fresh off of playing one of the best games in Final Four history against one another, ESPN announced last week that legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale would make his return to the booth on Tuesday alongside Dave O’Brien.
Vitale, who underwent surgeries to remove melanoma in August before being diagnosed with lymphoma in October, expressed extensive gratitude within the announcement, indicating that he and his family were “jumping for joy” about the opportunity to return. As the broadcast began, Vitale displayed that enthusiasm through emotion, as he was moved to tears on live air.
Vitale said plainly “I can’t believe I’m sitting here” before revealing that, dating back to October, he didn’t believe he would be able to be courtside again. He also made note of the Oct. 12 diagnosis and shared similar sentiment on Twitter.
He also thanked ESPN and so many that encouraged him in recent weeks and, even through tears, Vitale displayed the trademark energy that led O’Brien to refer to him as “the voice of college basketball.” For more than four decades, that has been an appropriate descriptor of Vitale, and this was a stirring moment to say the least.