GLENDALE, Ariz. — With the clock winding down on another edition of March Madness, CBS Sports producer Shawn Robbins went for a final shot in the waning seconds.
No, not on the court. In the production truck. In 2013, Robbins was the producer of “One Shining Moment,” the definitive highlight reel set to a soft-rock tune that ends the network’s NCAA tournament coverage.
Robbins was able to squeeze in a shot of injured Louisville player Kevin Ware cutting the net after the Cardinals’ championship game victory against Michigan mere moments before the “One Shining Moment” video ended.
“That was the only time I think I was ever sweating,” Robbins said. “Super fun to execute it and super fun to get it done.”
After Gonzaga plays North Carolina in the NCAA tournament championship game Monday night, CBS will air the 30th “One Shining Moment” montage. Millions of fans won’t turn off their televisions until Luther Vandross is done singing and that final shot of a celebrating team holding its trophy fades to black.
For the producers assigned to put together OSM, as the folks at CBS call it, it is a huge responsibility.
“You hold in your hands the time capsule of the tournament,” said Robbins, who produced “One Shining Moment” from 2011-2014. “What you’re looking for is really to tell the story of the tournament in 3 minutes and 4½ seconds. Because that’s all you got.”
The song “One Shining Moment” was written for the tournament by David Barrett, a singer-songwriter from Michigan, and his version was used from 1987 -1993.
RELATED: David Barrett, the man behind ‘One Shining Moment,’ looks back on his iconic song
Teddy Pendergrass did a version that was used from 1994-1999. Barrett’s returned from 2000-2002 before Vandross took over in 2003.
In 2010, a version by Jennifer Hudson was used and the montage featured cut-ins of her performing instead of the usual all-highlights format. That did not go over well with fans and the formula has not been messed with since.
“They want the traditional version,” said Harold Bryant, executive producer of CBS Sports since 2008.
While one person is ultimately responsible for putting “One Shining Moment” together, it is a collective process. There are 67 NCAA tournament games and hundreds of hours of footage to be examined.
Peter Radovich, creative director for CBS Sports, did four years on the “One Shining Moment” beat.
“You’ll get emails and texts from different crews all over the country saying, ‘Hey we have a great shot of a kid in the stands or a great moment on the bench,'” Radovich said. “Everybody wants to be a part of it and wants to chip in.”
Radovich said it is best not to stray from the lyrics.
“The great thing about ‘One Shining Moment’ is it’s basically paint by numbers. ‘The ball is tipped,'” he said, reciting a lyric. “Ball tipped shot. ‘There you are running for your life.’ All right we need a guy running and diving for the ball. ‘Shooting star.’ We need a great shot of a guy shooting.”
The lyric “And all the years” is almost always accompanied by a shot of an older coach.
By championship game night, about 2 minutes, 30 seconds of the video is done. The last 35 seconds or so is filled with title-game highlights, including the traditional closing shot of the trophy presentation.
“It’s the most harrowing 10 to 15 minutes of the year,” Radovich said. “Proud to do it and glad I did, but for me personally, the stress, it’s not worth it for me.”
Radovich said the “One Shining Moment” producer is the only CBS employee hoping for a lopsided championship game. A fantastic finish makes the job even tougher.
“And I had the worst-case scenario,” Radovich.
In 2008 , Kansas rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final 2:12 to tie Memphis on Mario Chalmer’s 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.
Radovich had the montage pretty much done with Memphis as champion. As the Tigers missed free throws and Kansas crept back, Radovich said he was thinking, “Please don’t do this. Mario Chalmers hits the shot and basically everything we just did for the last two hours blew up in smoke and we had to redo everything with only a few minutes of overtime.”
The Jayhawks won in overtime.
“And after that that’s when I said I’m checking out,” Radovich said.
Robbins’ most stressful moment came after the 2013 Louisville-Michigan title game. The story of that tournament had been the gruesome leg injury Louisville’s Ware suffered in the regional final.
Ware was with the team on the sideline for the championship game. Robbins knew if the Cardinals won there was a chance Ware would climb the ladder to cut the net.
“One Shining Moment” was done and ready to roll before the net-cutting.
“You just want get it into the [production] truck as soon as possible because you know the producer, director, everybody at the network, they want to get off the air and they’re going off the air with ‘One Shining Moment,'” Robbins said.
Robbins and the CBS crew were able to squeeze a shot of Ware cutting the net into the montage as it was airing, with Robbins yelling, “Now!” at just the right note near the end of the song.
Through three decades “One Shining Moment” has become not just the grand finale of CBS’ tournament coverage, but a lens through which the entire story is told.
“It’s kind of the heartbeat. Throughout the tournament, it weaves itself in and out because we’re thinking about it,” Bryant said. “Meaning, our producers, our directors and now the athletes are starting to think about it. They want to be part of this iconic song and video that we put together.”
This article was written by Ralph D. Russo from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.