By Veejai Ashbey
Truth be told, I wasn’t the biggest fan of college basketball. In fact I never really paid much attention to it. To me, the play was too sloppy and the talent was mostly subpar apparent from the 10-15 future NBA draft lottery picks. So normally, I would fill out my bracket for March Madness and once my first team lost, I’d pretty much forget about the tournament. I wouldn’t even watch the National Championship Game. This season began no differently. I filled out my bracket and made a boneheaded move and picked Bucknell over Belmont. Needless to say, my bracket got messed up pretty quickly and my interest waned from the tournament like always.
A day or two later, I was watching television when my phone gave me a close game alert for the Gonzaga vs Wichita State game. I decided to turn it on my TV and I eventually saw Wichita State upset Gonzaga in a great game. This started garnering my interest in the NCAA tournament, but I still didn’t really care too much about it. Again, I got another close game alert for the La Salle vs Mississippi with both teams tied at 74 and only a couple of seconds left on the clock. The crowd was roaring. It was an intense moment. La Salle inbounded the ball, and then Tyrone Garland drove it to the basket and shot the game winning layup to give them the victory. What made the moment so great occurred when Garland was interviewed shortly after his game winner. He dedicated his win to his cousin Vern in Philadelphia and crowned his shot the “Southwest Philly Floater.”
After that game, I was hooked. I checked the scores at all times, tried to watch every game I could, and I began to research the players I was seeing. When the Final Four came around, the fact that it was taking place in Atlanta just made it that much more exciting. Every single game in Atlanta was an exhilarating game, especially the National Championship Game. Spike Albrecht went crazy in the first half with 17 points, shooting 4-5 from 3-point range. Overall, it was a game that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Not only did I gain interest in college basketball, but I think ironically the sports world started gaining more interest in Atlanta. We aren’t really considered a sports town other than the ‘90s Braves rise to dominance and the current Falcons success. We were even called the worst sports city in America a couple of years ago. But at the Final Four, the crowd was immensely into the games being played, and they were rocking and were enjoying what they were seeing. The coverage for our city was phenomenal, and I’m glad that people gave it a shot just like I did with college basketball.
The tournament converted me into a fan, and now I’m just ready for the next season to start. Never hurts to be addicted to more than one sport.