There’s a reason I’m a fan of Duke basketball. And no, it’s not because I’m a pretentious rich kid who fell in love AFTER the back-to-back titles of 1991-92. It’s because at a young age I enjoyed rooting for the underdog. It’s probably hard to remember Duke being an underdog, but as a 7-year-old watching the 1990 NCAA Championship I felt bad for the Blue Devils. They lost in a blowout to the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. From then on I was hooked on Duke. Over the years I grew to love Coach K, Wojo, Grant Hill, etc.
Sorry for the rambling, but the main reason I like Duke TODAY is because of their predictability. I KNOW they’ll be in the NCAA tourney. I know they’ll be a high seed. And I know every year they have a chance to win it all. They don’t always do it, but they have a legitimate chance.
Which brings me to the topic of the day. When will MN sports fans be rewarded? Last night, a buddy and I perched upon a bar stool to watch the Gophers men’s basketball game vs Indiana. Minnesota was fresh off an impressive road win at Iowa. They were finally looking relevant in the Big Ten after starting conference play 0-5. You could sense fans were ready. There was a turnaround a brewin’. (I’ll say it again, there’s no better atmosphere in the MN sports scene than Williams Arena when the Gophs are good). But alas, the Gophers bring hope, get fans excited, only to bring them back down to earth with a huge thud. In this case it was a 90-71 whooping. Defense, specifically 3-point defense, was apparently optional for Richard Pitino’s bunch.
This idea of creating excitement, manufacturing reasons to care have become almost epidemic like in the Twin Cities. The Wolves, Twins and Vikings year-in and year-out bill this as “the year” (Vikings) or “watch how exciting we’ll be” (Timberwolves) or “we’ve got some young talent, you better buy season tickets now” (Twins). But when will the MN sports fan be rewarded for believing the PR machine of our local sports teams?
It’s been nearly 24 years since the last championship parade took place in the Twin Cities. Boston has had 4 Super Bowl Championships alone in the last 15 years! Think about this. The Gopher football team played in, did NOT win, just participated in a New Year’s Day Bowl and we acted as if it was a miracle. Glen Mason went 8-5 regularly during his tenure. But a Jan 1 Bowl hadn’t happened since 1967. Someone, besides the Lynx, make it stop.
The list is too long. 1998, 2000, 2009 Vikings, 2004 Wolves, 2003 Wild, 1997 Gophers hoops (it DID happen), 2003 Gophers FB….man the local teams were actually good for a while. “What was that like?” I often ask myself.
So once again I found myself last night HOPING this Gophers turnaround was for real. And once again, the local team let me down. Build me up, only to disappoint.
Another early 90s team I latched onto because they lost in a big game….the Buffalo Bills. Maybe it’s not the teams. Maybe it’s just me.