IzLegal Illustrated THE WILD WORLD OF MARCH MADNESS A Look at Iconic Tournament Moments
Every spring, millions of Americans fill out March Madness brackets. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 75 million U.S. workers spend at least six hours watching the NCAA Tournament at work, and the drop in productivity during the first week costs companies roughly $13.3 billion. Needless to say, March Madness is a nationwide phenomenon. The tournament’s status can be chalked up to the ease of filling out a bracket and good old-fashioned school pride, but March Madness has also become famous for having the highest occurrence of heart- stopping moments of any major American sporting event. Over the years, we’ve seen Cinderella stories, buzzer beaters, and otherworldly performances. Every year, the tournament serves something unexpected and wonderful. It’s those moments that make March Madness what it is. Here are a few of the most memorable. BIRD VS. MAGIC 1 (1979) Author Chuck Klosterman described the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as “a conflict that dwarfs Dante.”While their battle grew to legendary proportions during their respective NBA careers, Bird and Magic first faced off before either entered the NBA. During the 1978–79 season, Larry Bird led the lowly Indiana State Sycamores to an undefeated regular season record. They stormed through the tournament and met Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans in the final.
the stand-out performer and MVP. He finished with 24 points and a title. Over the ensuing years, Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers would trade shots in an epic tussle for NBA supremacy, but it all started here. NC STATE’S LAST-SECOND UPSET (1983) March Madness is known for underdog stories and few are more inspirational than N.C. State’s shocking upset of Houston in the 1983 title game. Houston, known as Phi Slamma Jamma for their above-the-rim play style, was on a 26-game winning streak and heavily favored to make mincemeat of the Wolfpack. But that’s not what happened. With the game tied and time expiring, N.C. State’s Dereck Whittenburg had the ball near the top of the key. He heaved up a prayer of a shot that came down well short of the basket. However, his teammate Lorenzo Charles caught the ball as if the errant shot were a perfectly placed alley-oop. He slammed the ball, time expired, and the entire stadium went wild. Jim Valvano, N.C. State’s coach, was so overcome that he ran around the court in utter disbelief. CHRIS WEBBER’S TIMEOUT (1993) Michigan’s Fab Five (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson) are the most famous recruiting class in college basketball history. They transformed the sport by injecting a healthy dose of what we know today as “swag.” After reaching the finals of the tournament as freshmen — an unheard-of achievement at the time — the Wolverines were expected to romp to a title in 1993. Everything went according to plan until the final when Chris Webber committed basketball’s most famous blunder.
Down by 2 points with 20 seconds left, Webber secured a rebound and headed up the court. North Carolina’s defense smartly used a trap defense to funnel him into the corner. Panicked and out of real estate, Webber signaled for a timeout. The problem was that Michigan didn’t have any. As an automatic technical foul, Webber’s gaffe secured North Carolina’s victory. KRIS JENKINS FTW (2016) The most stunning moment in recent tournament history came from Villanova’s forward Kris Jenkins and his team. The Philadelphia-area school had not won a title in more than 20 years when they made the championship game in 2016. Their duel with North Carolina in that game was one for the ages — a back-and-forth affair that was tied 74-74 before the final possession. The ball came to Jenkins, who chucked a deep 3 as time expired, and the buzzer sounded as the ball went through the rim. “When I get it,” Jenkins told reporters after the game, “it’s going up. I always think it’s going in, and this was no different.” It was no different, except for the fact that most shots aren’t destined to be remembered for decades. Which moments from this year will end up leaving an indelible imprint on the sport? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
Bird managed a double-double in the game, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but Magic was
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