BROOKLYN — As we speak, it’s snowing in the borough. I’d tell Whiny Jim Boeheim to stuff that in his pipe and smoke it, as the ancient saying goes, except that I recall the 1993 ACC tournament in Charlotte where it snowed so hard on Saturday that the power failed in the Coliseum during North Carolina’s game with Virginia. (The game was tight at the time. Once the power was restored, the Tar Heels won in a rout. We all said, “Dean turned off the lights.”)
Georgia Tech wound up beating Carolina in the final. It was Bobby Cremins’ third ACC title. James Forrest was the MVP. It’s the last time the Yellow Jackets have won this event. Owing to the snow, which was also heavy back in Atlanta and thereby made for delivery issues, we AJC folks had early deadlines. We had to file at 4 p.m. off a game that began at 1. But I digress.
Even older than that winter-in-March memory is Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco, which returns for its 30th edition Sunday night, when the pairings are set and the bracket page goes live. The monetary prize is a $500 Kroger gift card. The prestige prize is the traditional Final Four sweatshirt. You’re also entered in a national contest, which could win you $1 million, which would buy a boatload of hoodies.
(According to Mr. Google, the traditional gift for a 30th anniversary is a pearl. In this instance, I’m afraid a Kroger card and a sweatshirt will have to suffice.)
When you hit a round-numbered anniversary, you get a bit nostalgic. When this contest began, I was barely in my 30s and had just started Year 4 at the ol’ AJC. Kansas won that year, the Kansas led by Danny Manning, who now coaches Wake Forest. I’m pretty sure I picked Syracuse to do something in 1988 — it had reached the title game the year before — and it bombed. Then as now, Syracuse was coached by the charmer Boeheim.
The actual 1988 Final Four: Kansas, as coached by Larry Brown, who has had 137 different jobs since but holds none at the moment; Oklahoma, as coached by Billy Tubbs, who once sneeringly referred to yours truly as “some guy in Atlanta”; Arizona, as coached by Lute Olson and led by a little guard named Steve Kerr, and Duke, making its second Final Four appearance under Mike Krzyzewski. (He’s now sitting on 12.) Duke’s best player was Danny Ferry.
OK, enough Memory Lane. We old folks do tend to ramble. Just be advised that the Bracket Fiasco is, for the 30th consecutive March, coming to a web site near you very soon. (Not that we had web sites back in 1988, when I opened every snail-mailed entry by hand.) And now I’ll shut up and watch the snow, which is blowing sideways.
Springtime in New York? Yeah, right.