March Madness is upon us, and it’s going to be totally awesome, baybee!
New stars will be born and more than one shining moment will occur. One bounce of the ball, one slip and fall, and one shot can make a legend or create a scapegoat.
No moment is more indicative as to how one play can create an image more than the Houston-North Carolina State NCAA Championship Game 28 years ago in Albuquerque, N.M.
The game’s last play is part of college basketball lore. As time ran down, an N.C. State pass was nearly stolen by Houston’s Benny Anders near midcourt. N.C. State’s Dereck Whittenburg hoisted up a desperation 40-foot shot, which was slammed home in the game’s last second by Lorenzo Charles, as Houston’s Akeem (now spelled Hakeem) Olajawon watched helplessly. N.C. State coach Jim Valvano ran onto the court, frantically looking for someone to hug; Houston’s coach Guy Lewis slinked off the court, literally crying into his trademark red and white polka dot towel, looking for answers.
Valvano became a coaching legend and a national personality. He went on to become a national television commentator before his untimely death from cancer in 1993 at age 47. He is forever remembered for his inspirational “Don’t Ever Give Up” speech at the ESPY awards.
But Guy Lewis, whose team was heavily favored against N.C. State, has become a forgotten figure in basketball history. Lewis, now 88, had a career record of 592 wins and 279 losses in what should be considered a storied career. In the 1983 National Semifinal game Lewis’ “Phi Slama Jama” team beat Louisville’s “Doctors of Dunk” in a memorable dunk-filled game that Houston won 94-81.
Lewis coached the Houston Cougars from 1957 to 1986.
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