It's been thirty years. Thirty years since Dereck Wittenburg's airball of a pass to Lorenzo Charles in the 1983 NCAA Championship and Charles' dunk that catapulted the NC State Wolfpack to the pinnacle of college basketball.
Who can forget Jim Valvano running around the court to hug someone in pure pandemonium?
Yes it's been thirty years. And it's been twenty years, this April 28, that Jim Valvano passed away. Those fans of college basketball, ESPN and society in general can't forget his touching speech at the 1993 ESPY awards. "... To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special....Don't Give Up...Don't Ever Give Up ..."
Jimmy V's not here but his NC State Wolf Pack are.
Sadly too, there's someone else who isn't here. Rick Majerus
The humble, jovial and intense Coach of the St. Louis Billikens passed away Dec 5 2012.
The title of his
autobiography alone shows his humility:
My Life On a Napkin: Pillow Mints, Playground Dreams and Coaching the Runnin' Utes
Valvano and Majerus reminds us that the spirit of this tournament lies in not only the purity of the sport but the inspiration of those before us.
How sweet would the sweet sixteen be if NCSt ( in the East) and St. Louis ( in the Midwest) advanced? How elite would the Elite 8 be if they extended their play? How fanatic would the Final Four be if the Wolfpack and Billikens made it? And yes, they could meet each other in the Championship.
Could the Basketball Fairy Godmother bestow a pair of glass slippers on these two Cinderella sentimental favorites?
I'm not sure, but...
In taking Jim's advice, if we spend time in thought as we fill out our brackets, laugh at some of our picks and cry when we win (or lose)...think, laugh and cry, we'll have a heck of a tournament and it's going to be special!