March Moment: The Spark(s) Of Spring

Posted by jstevrtc on March 25th, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game. For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment. A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.” Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents: what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan? What was your…March Moment? We’ll be posting some of their answers for the rest of the month.

In this submission, a Kentucky fan’s love for college hoops is cemented by, of all things, a game they ended up losing — but specifically a few seconds that were burned into his memory, thanks to a kind roll:

March has a funny way of changing things.  The NCAA tournament kicks off, and 65 teams get a shot to extend their seasons and for three weeks David and Goliath find themselves in the same shoes…win or go home.

It has a unique way of bringing out the best and even the worst in people, and sets a stage for Cinderella to flex her muscles. Simply put, March Madness is without a doubt the best three weeks in sports.

Most people have their favorite March memory, whether it be “The Shot” by Christian Laettner (which somehow find its way into every CBS broadcast), watching Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma square off against the Doctors of Dunk (Louisville and Darryl Griffith), or any moment in between.

As a Kentucky fan, I feel I have my own unique perspective of The Big Dance. Although the Cats have won two titles in my lifetime, the moment that stands out the most came in a loss.

In 2005, Kentucky was on a roll. After sweeping through the regular season with a 23-4 record, the Cats were poised to make some waves in the tournament. After a couple of close wins in the opening three rounds, the only thing standing in the way of UK and a Final Four berth was a pesky overachiever from East Lansing…Michigan State.

After playing the Spartans close for the entire game, Kentucky found itself down three points with just 19 seconds left in regulation. That’s when something spectacular happened. After a couple of misfires from behind the arc, Patrick Sparks chased down a long rebound with just two seconds left and let loose a prayer that would decide if the season would be extended. The prayer was answered. Overtime.

Although the Cats would fall just two periods later, that shot would change my life.

That’s the moment that I realized how much Kentucky basketball meant to me. I had been a UK fan since before I can remember but in the seconds surrounding that play it took on such a new meaning. As Sparks’ three-pointer bounced around the rim, time stood still. Although just an instant, it felt like it lasted forever and my heart didn’t resume beating until after the ball had found its way safely through the net.

The emotions that exploded after that one shot changed the way I looked at the game. Basketball wasn’t just a sport anymore; it couldn’t be. It was something so much bigger.

While jumping around the living room with my dad and little brother, hugging and high fiving, I realized how important it was. The way it felt to share that with them is something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. As I get older I’ll always look back on that day and smile. That day, that moment, is when everything changed. Isn’t it funny how March can do that to you?

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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