As I stood, surrounded by UCLA and Memphis fans, and watched Mario's shot arc for a second and a half across 24 feet of wood, paint, skin, bone and sweat, I expected, as I have been conditioned to expect, that the shot would not fall. Indeed from my vantage point, 12 rows back on the end line (thanks to a generous Bruin), I was sure that Mario's heave was short.
But the shot went in. And here we are, 2008 National Champions.
By and large, life is filled with grey. For every success, innovation or improvement, there's a an accompanying compromise that we must accept. It's why so many of us drive cars that look like every other car, and why the siding on our houses has stamped wood grain for the "authentic look." It's why most people only kind of like their jobs. And it's the overwhelming supply of grey in our lives that makes sports so exciting.
Because nowhere in that second and a half of The Shot was there any blending of black and white. There was agony or there was ecstasy, and there was nothing in between.
Away from the action on the court, another story was developing. The NCAA production crew, sensing Memphis' impending victory, had unboxed the Tigers' Championship shirts, and had delivered them to the Memphis bench, so the players could wear them as soon as possible. The game was over and everyone knew it, except the five guys wearing Crimson and Blue. Mario's shot went in and the CBS/NCAA production assistants summarily took them away.
It's a cruel twist and an insult to injury that Memphis didn't deserve, but it's also emblematic of why we watch and why they play. If you can't lose, it's no fun to win. And after 19 years of season ending losses, winning is a lot of fun.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk! Congrats to Self and his team. We have entered a new Golden Age of KU Hoops. Enjoy.
This video was shot from within 10 feet of me at the game. HOT HOT HOT.