(AP) – Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski isn’t the only one retiring after the Final Four. It’s also the final games for Bob Fishman, who will be directing CBS and Turner’s coverage of the NCAA tournament for the 39th time.
“We’ve become good friends over the years. I’ve refereed every one of his national championships,” Fishman said. “I said to him a few weeks ago, ‘You know, I’m an impartial coach, but it sure would be cool to be there together to celebrate our retirement together and maybe win a national championship.’ That would really round it off for me.”
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Fishman will direct TBS coverage of Saturday’s national semifinals and Monday night’s title game. Fishman has played all of Duke’s games to date, along with the top team of Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson.
Not many people may know who Fishman is, but he’s helmed some of the most memorable events on CBS since he left the news department in 1975. He directed the original studio show “NFL Today” along with figure skating at three Olympics, including the memorable showdown between Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding at Lillehammer in 1994 and the 1992-93 World Series, which led to Joe Carter’s winning home run in 1993 in Remembered that gave the Toronto Blue Jays their second title.
“It is more than just perfect to be technically perfect. It’s also the sixth sense he has of where to be and where to cut to tell the story. After all, it’s a visual medium,” said Nantz, who will be calling his 31st Final Four this weekend. “He’s the guy who delivered images that will outlive us all.”
A winner of 16 Emmy Awards, Fishman has also directed 27 US Open tennis championships and 20 Daytona 500s, including the first live broadcast in 1979, which featured the memorable post-race fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison was.
“I’ve said it many times before. If there’s a Mount Rushmore in sports production, Bob Fishman takes center stage,” said Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports. “It’s hard to imagine anyone having such a varied directing career as he has. It’s just remarkable.”
But of all the events he’s done over the years, his favorite remains the NCAA tournament.
Fishman’s first memorable tournament shot came in 1982 when North Carolina’s Michael Jordan scored the game-winning shot against Georgetown. Seconds later, Fred Bown had the infamous turnover where he threw the ball to James Worthy, mistaking for teammate Eric Smith.
Two years later, Fishman caught the scene on the Georgetown bench of coach John Thompson giving Brown a huge hug late in the championship game against Houston.
One of the most notable Fishman celebration shots came in 1983 when North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano was running around looking for someone to hug after the Wolfpack upset Houston. That was a camera in the top left corner of the arena, designed to focus on the larger celebration. It was, after all, the only camera Valvano found amidst the madness at the last second.
Fishman was also there when Kris Jenkins used his 2016 buzzer-beater to win Villanova over North Carolina and Kansas in the 2008 final against Memphis in overtime.
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Of Duke’s 13 Final Four trips under Krzyzewski, Fishman has made 12 of them. The only thing he missed was 1990 when he was being treated for bone cancer.
When CBS televised its first NCAA tournament in 1982, fewer than half the games were on network television. CBS took over coverage of the entire tournament in 1991, but viewers were at the network’s mercy as to what games they could watch. It wasn’t until CBS merged with Turner in 2011 that all games became available, utilizing four channels over the first weekend.
When Fishman played his first Final Four in New Orleans in 1982, CBS had six cameras. He’ll have at least 22 in the Superdome this weekend, including the robotic SkyCam and RailCam.
Fishman said that although so much has changed because of technology, the same principles have been applied everywhere – scoring the perfect shot while ensuring attention stays on the game.
“We now have all the toys we need to add value to the show. It’s kinda true if we get overloaded sometimes. But my focus has always been to stay with the game and not mess with all the gear,” Fishman said. “Making the best decisions for the viewer with the camera shot and, when appropriate, doing those so-called cutaway shots. Just don’t always be on your guard when putting the ball on the court, instead take some risks with close-up shots to show the emotion of the game. The base cover is still what it is, only now we have more toys to play with.”
Nantz can’t remember the last time he saw Fishman make a mistake on a show. Nantz was struck by Kevin Costner’s monologue about film directors and how they relate to the sport during last Sunday’s Oscars.
“Directors on sports television don’t get the same acclaim, but this is a live animal,” Nantz said. “There are no second takes. You don’t have time to take spontaneous pictures. There are thousands of decisions you have to make within a broadcast. It’s not a cookie cutter. It’s quick decision making.
“I’m just losing my admiration for everything Bob Fishman has done.”
Fishman got emotional a few times during the first two weeks of the NCAA tournament, but he said there are other projects he’s looking forward to. He also hasn’t ruled out a return to do more sports television work later.
“I’m trying not to think about Monday night’s league game. I’m sure I’ll be a wreck when I finish the ‘One Shining Moment’ tape for the last time,” he said. “My family will be in New Orleans, and you know I’m ready to move on and do some other things in my life.”
By JOE REEDY AP sportswriter
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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/04/01/robert-fishman-39th-final-four-retire-cbs-director/ Director Robert Fishman ready for his 39th Final Four – CBS Baltimore