Butler gets remembered, but legends never die
Peter Elliott | Thursday, April 8, 2010
Gordon Hayward was channeling Bobby Plump, the last-second hero of the 1951 Indiana Men’s Basketball Championship and the inspiration for the film Hoosiers, Monday night when he shot that jumper over Duke’s Brian Zoubek. That last-second shot should have arched over the 7’1″ center, bounced once on the rim and rolled in. It should have been the greatest NCAA Men’s Championship game in our generation. Instead, the ball went long and bricked off the far side of the rim. It was rebounded by Zoubek, handing a perennial dynasty and its insufferable fans yet another championship (yes, I recognize the irony in me, a Notre Dame student, calling other college fans insufferable, but I am writing as a Butler fan).
Sports these days don’t seem as magical as they used to be. I grew up on a steady diet of classic inspirational movies like Rudy (obvious), Remember the Titans, Miracle, Seabiscuit and Space Jam. They taught me that if you are plucky enough and the situation is just perfect, even I could pull off the upset of a lifetime. What are they going to make movies about in 10 or 15 years when we need to teach our children that the world is a just place where the good guys coached by a lovable — if slightly damaged — mentor always win?
Are they going to watch a movie about a plucky Saints team that finished with the NFL’s second-best record and top passer finally winning a Super Bowl or how a grossly overpaid Yankees organization purchased a World Series team to beat on a small market team that made it to the World Series? Maybe they can watch the story of two non-BCS teams that went undefeated during the year only to be paired together in a bowl game matched only by class on St.Patrick’s Day in its futility.
My point is that the magic in sports is dying. When was the last time a true underdog story translated into a championship? The answer should have been last Monday. You could not script the sequel to Hoosiers any better than Butler’s journey through the tournament this year. If those mystical forces that create truly great sports stories couldn’t allow Butler to finish the greatest story in men’s basketball of the past 25 years, then what hope do my Cubbies have this season?