Bob Costas is the epitome of broadcasting excellence.
Currently a baseball play-by-play broadcaster employed by MLB Network, Costas is notably known for his tenure at NBC Sports from 1980 through 2018.
The multi-Emmy award winner had stints doing broadcasts of the NBA on NBC, the Olympic Games and Sunday Night Football.
Million Dollar Question: Why the heck did Bob Costas leave NBC Sports?
“Because we mutually agreed,” Costas told recently retired ESPN legend, Bob Ley on Monday at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
“I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t inclined to hosting the Sunday Night Football broadcast, my feeling about that is, if you’re Al Michaels, who is phenomenally brave, you have complete integrity to call out the game.
For those keeping score at home: On Monday, Costas headlined Seton Hall’s College of Communication and the Arts’ Sports Media Speaker Series, which features leaders in the industry talking directly to students about the changing media landscape.
The two icons discussed the evolution and future of the sports media industry.
Costas told Ley that he wanted to do newer things.
“I was no longer inclined to do the Olympics,” said Costas.
“My role is different, my role was to bring it on the air, present it, and theoretically, bring commentary even there. But if I was going to be headstrong doing that commentary, when I couldn’t lift up rocks to look what was underneath them, when I couldn’t just acknowledge elephants in the room, it just felt increasingly uncomfortable, so I didn’t want to do it any longer. I also recognize that if they’re shocked, they’re allowed to put on presentation they want.”
Costas began his broadcasting career while in school at Syracuse. His first professional assignment was to call NFL and NBA games for CBS Sports from 1976-79. He was hired by NBC Sports in 1980.
Costas started working the NBC back up games on a full time basis in 1982.
Some of his memorable moments while at NBC Sports were games like Michael Jordan’s last shot as a Chicago Bull.
If you’re keeping score at home: During Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan hit the game-winning shot over Utah Jazz.
With 5.2 seconds left, Jordan hit a show over Bryon Russell to give Chicago its sixth NBA title and Costas’ call was legendary:
“Jordan, open, Chicago with the lead!” said Costas as MJ’s shot went through the basket.
Following the play, Costas would later state: “That may have been the last shot Michael Jordan will ever take in the NBA.”
“It was so disappointing to me when I signed my last contract,” Costas said at Seton Hall on Monday night.
“It included NBC Sports Network and their idea was that they replicated a program I used to do on HBO. We did it about a year and a half, the program went well ad was pretty well received. I can’t prove it, but I think some of them, journalistically, cut a little too close to the bone when it came to some of their partners, specifically the NFL. Without ceremony or father explanation, they just stopped doing the shows. Those shows still exist, even if the audience was completely infinitesimal in numbers in comparison to Sunday Night Football audiences and the Super Bowl, I would’ve been perfectly content to stay.”