The Basketball Tournament has been this weird cultural phenomenon. It’s run on a shoestring budget, with a staff running on little sleep, being played by basketball players removed from college and not on any contract worth risking. And somehow it ended up on ESPN and ESPN2 with a following and actual media covering it.
There’s a ton of valid reasons for this: name recognition of players, lack of other basketball #content, lack of other #content that’s not baseball etc. But Thursday night showed why it has the following it does.
The Thursday night games sold out, so we were guaranteed a great environment. Then I showed up and the Orange started flooding in. Otto showed up. They even had big heads. There was a palpable energy as the game started off. Then fans wet right into #StandAndClap. Then players dunked. Then Eric Devendorf made a shot and said a word you don’t say to your mother. And then the smaller contingent of non-Orange got into it. Julio Jones showed up!
It’s crazy. It’s everything about the NCAA and NBA distilled into their simplest forms in the nicest small gyms they can find. And whether you’ve been a fan for one year or 50 years, there’s some element to love. There’s some element that sticks out as a “wow, I remember when...” These crazy elements combined with good old fashioned nostalgia create an environment unlike any other.
So the actual game ended 65-61 in thrilling fashion, because of course #CardiacCuse is always a thing.
Just listen to this:
I’m not going to lie, it was louder in the gym. Maybe that was because it was a small bandbox as opposed to the spacious Dome. But I genuinely think it was because you had fans who got pulled into a game that reminded them of a time years ago.
Maybe they remembered a Pearl half court heave.
Maybe they remembered six overtimes in MSG.
Maybe they remembered a CJ slam over Otto Porter.
It was awesome to be brought back into that place for two hours on a Thursday night. And now we’ll get to do it again on Sunday. And I can’t Eric Devendorf wait.