Monday, November 23, 2015

Celebrating the Start of Another Season of College Basketball

… by looking at the programs from some of the Tip-Off Classic games Abby and I got to attend, thanks to our friends Drew and Will, who live out Springfield way.

1987 - I have a friend who is a retired Syracuse policewoman;
she told me that if any of the officers happened to arrest
the great center, Rony Seikaly, they were to excuse him and
send him on his way. The North Carolina team included
Rick Fox, who led Indiana's Warsaw High School
to the State Championship.

1988 - Duke's team included 6'10" Danny Ferry and Christian
"Shot of the Century" Laettner. Abby and I had front row seats. Ferry was pushed
out of bounds and came crashing into my lap. Kentucky was coached
by one of the all-time slime bags, Eddie Sutton.  On Sunday morning I was up

early, sitting in the lobby drinking coffee, when Coach Krzyzewski walked out of
an elevator, crossed the lobby, and asked the desk clerk where the nearest Catholic
church was.  Goodness and a certain obedience can be very touching.

1989 - Arizona coached by the great Lute Olsen; led by the 6'11"
Brian Williams, who was the son of the great Tony Williams of
The Platters.  Brian was eccentric, walking away from a contract
with the Pistons that had close to $35-million left on it. While sailing
in the middle of the Pacific in 2002 he is believed to have been murdered
and thrown overboard by his brother. The brother intentionally
overdosed on insulin before he could stand trial.

1990 is the year I was watching Shaquille O'Neal and LSU lose to Villanova, but I
suddenly felt really flu-lousy and had to leave at half-time to puke in

the courtyard, and then returned to the hotel. I must have been so
ill that I left my program behind. Many hours later Drew and Abby
brought me a pint of Haagen-Dazs vanilla.

1991 - Indiana was always my favorite team until Bobby
Knight was fired. These 1991 Hoosiers included Damon Bailey
and Calbert Cheney.

1992 - I wasn't fond of either Purdue's Gene Keady
or Connecticut's Jim Calhoun; and I don't remember
a single player from either team. Course, they probably
don't remember me either, so it's okay.

1993 - Four of Michigan's Fab Five were back. I wanted to tell Georgia
Tech's coach, Bobby Cremins, that his haircut was really stupid.

I ordered tickets late; though the venue for the Tip-Off Classic
games was small -- the Springfield Civic Center -- it still
wasn't fun sitting in the rafters.

Well, I never liked Rick Pitino, and I liked Gary Williams.
Again, I don't remember any outstanding players on either team.

Two great coaches, Lute Olson and Dean Smith. Abby had
a crush on Arizona's Mike Bibby; after the game he noticed
her ogling him and he smiled at her; she melted. Bonus:

Having John Havlicek there as the Grand Marshal of
the Festival.

The great John Thompson! I don't remember the
Wake Forest coach or team at all.

I don't remember this game.  I remember Roy Williams
because I didn't like him. I still don't like him.

Indiana again! Dane Fife and Tom Coverdale!  And that,
for me, was the end of a great run of live basketball.  All of a
sudden the Tip-Off Classic was no more.  I heard that it ended
because downtown Springfield had become a dangerous
place to be; I really don't know.  Maybe ten years later
the Tip-Off Classic was revived, but not in the city where
basketball was invented, but in Mohegan Sun Casino in
Connecticut.  It's now a tourney. It's just not right. 

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