The Weekly Snitch: April 7, 2010
By Patrick Ibarra
The NCAA Finals for men’s basketball on April 5 was one of the most thrilling in history. It had every element a big game should have, from a big underdog nearly pulling off an upset against a respected powerhouse program, to two game-winning shots that nearly fell. It had me on my feet the entire last 10 minutes, and created a memory most won’t soon forget.
And yet, it wasn’t local. Neither team vested much interest from me personally. I rooted for Butler, a school I called the “Gonzaga of the east,” despite being in Indiana. A mid-major program much like my alma mater Gonzaga, Butler put on the Cinderella slipper this year and nearly rode it all the way to becoming the best team in all of college basketball.
That’s a story in itself. But what I found even more interesting was the effect the game had on people around me.
While I was concentrated on one of the most exciting endings to an NCAA Championship game that I’d ever seen, it wasn’t until later that I realized something beautiful had happened in the living room simultaneously. With just a few ticks left on the clock, my mother and sisters slowly filtered into the room, wondering what all our hollering was about previously. The noise of three grown men yelling at the television consistently with oohs and ahhs piqued their curiosity, so they peaked in to see what all the fuss was about.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of women who are die-hard fans, a couple who have beat me in my own bracket pool the last couple of years. But my mother is not one of them.
“Oh, there’s only a few seconds left,” she said nonchalantly after looking at the score, like someone watching the news realized the weather the rest of the week was going to be a bit sunnier than usual. She sat down in her recliner, my sisters standing beside her vaguely interested in the game’s conclusion.
Then the first possible game-winning shot for Butler went up and missed slightly.
“Wow, that was close,” my sister said, turning to start another conversation with my other sister immediately after as Duke shuffled to the free-throw line to essentially put the game away for good.
Then Duke missed the second free throw and all hell broke loose. Conversations ceased immediately while six people in our house stared without blinking at a few wild seconds deciding the hierarchy of basketball.
Butler sophomore Gordon Hayward took the ball, went around a solid screen near half court by a teammate and launched a prayer nearly to the ceiling of the stadium, only to watch it bounce off the backboard and rim just inches short from going in.
My mother and sisters wowed aloud while my heart sank. They started talking of how it was a close game and how that was fun to watch, but conversation faded slowly to a mumble as I thought about what I just missed.
My heart sank not because I was depressed Butler lost, but because I was upset that the miracle I’ve been waiting for didn’t come through. What could have been the greatest title game in history ended with another championship for Duke, the team expected to win and give its coach his fifth national championship.
Rather than being able to tell my grandkids that I witnessed one of the greatest moments in college basketball history, I’ll be telling them instead that I saw one of many great games in which Duke won a championship. It’s almost commonplace amongst the past two generations of basketball fans.
We didn’t get to witness history Monday night; we simply got to enjoy a great night of basketball. In essence, that’s good enough, though, especially if it got the three women in my family to realize the beauty of my favorite sport.
It’s too bad it won’t be interesting enough to tell my daughter about down the road.