Thursday, July 10, 2008

Marvel v. Capcom

I don't know what made me think of this but today I remembered one of my favorite memories of watching sports when I was younger. It was in the second semester of my senior year in high school and I was 17. There were loads of my buddies at a friend's house, probably ten of us. We were screwing around as one is wont to do when you're 17 and in the twelfth grade. Duke was playing Maryland on January 27, 2001 at what was more or less the height of the two programs. Duke that day featured Jason Williams, Chris Duhon (as a freshman), Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy. They would eventually go on to win the national championship beating Maryland in the Final Four and then Arizona in the finals. Maryland, the home team, had Lonny Baxter, Juan Dixon, Terrence Morris and the backbone of the team that would win the national championship over Indiana (who beat Duke in the Final Four) in 2002.

Anyway, anyone familiar with this game remembers the 'Miracle Minute,' as Jason Williams scored eight points in about 15 seconds, with Duke trailing by 10 with 1:01 to play. Two Nate James free throws sent the game to OT and Duke eventually won 98-96 when Battier blocked a Juan Dixon layup with about four seconds left in overtime. Probably one of the great regular season games in ACC history. Two fantastic teams playing down to the wire with some of the best players in the country on display.

But if you weren't watching it with me that day, you didn't enjoy it as much as I did or find as much shame in the surrounding circumstances as I did. As mentioned, there were a good number of us hanging out and watching the ballgame. Earlier we'd been playing the Sega Dreamcast down the hall, again, as 17/18 year olds were wont to do in 2001. But as the game got going and as it crept toward the waning minutes, we'd all gravitated to the tv. Isn't weird how sometimes you just know that you're watching something amazing, even before the amazing parts have happened? The other thing I guess I should mention is that I lived in Durham, North Carolina at this time. So most of the folks there were pulling for Duke, naturally. So anyway, Maryland takes what looks like an insurmountable lead with 1:01 to play. But then J.Will starts doing his thing, stealing the ball, making 3's, and we're all going crazy. Jumping up and down, yelling, we can't believe it. Game finally goes to overtime, and we're all on the edge of our seats. Amazing game and so much better to watch it with a bunch of friends. End of overtime, Battier blocks the shot and we all go nuts. Could there ever be a better game than this? Haven't we all just witnessed something that will never be forgotten in Durham? But wait, where is George?, I ask.

Our friend George is sitting in the other room, oblivious to the banter down the hall, intently focused on the Marvel v. Capcom game he brought over to play on the Dreamcast. It was one of the lowlights in my career as a sports watcher. This guy, a friend of mine no less, had missed one of the great sporting events of all time to be Chun Li against Spider Man.


Trey said...

I am a lifelong Duke fan and the other day I was trying to figure out the top 5 moments in Duke history since I've been alive. Obviously, you have to include the three national titles and the Leattner buzzer beater against Kentucky in the elite 8 in 1992 (the year they got championship number 2). Then I was struggling to find number 5 on my list bc there are so many. But I think number 5 absolutely has to be Williams' 2 minutes of dominance.

That was absolutely the craziest thing I've ever seen out of any college player ever. And he'd been held in check scoring wise that entire game, but in those last two minutes he blew up.

Also, it should be mentioned that the Duke Maryland rivalry was cemented by that game. Too bad after 8 years of a good rivalry Maryland is starting to suck.

Michael Orr said...

I would say that beating UNLV in the Final Four in '91 (after losing to them in the '90 finals 103-73) would have to be above the 2001 championship game. In fact, the huge comeback against Maryland in the Final Four in '01 was a lot more impressive of a game than any of the three title games themselves. But in terms of longevity, the titles themselves are more important than the games played to earn them.

The other interesting thing about Duke is that making the '86 finals (losing to Pervis 'Never Nervous' Ellison and Louisville) was probably as big a moment as any, being the first Final Four of the Krzyzewski era. With Johnny Dawkins, Billy King, Tommy Amaker and Jay Bilas, that was K's first really great team, nationally. But, since we were about three years old when that happened, it's tough to include that in the equation.

trey said...

yeah, it's hard to come up with a top 5 bc i fell obligated to include the championships and that takes up three spots. but the 92 championship game was completely unmemorable bc they beat michigan by 20.

and as for Leattner nailing two clutch free throws to seal the game against UNLV, I would've put that just behind the miracle minute. The huge comeback against maryland was great too. see that is why picking the top five moments in duke history is too hard. there are too many great games and three championships to consider. plus, all the unc games that we won.

it's a good problem to have though.

oh, and the 86 team was like my first memory of sports, but is extremely vague. really until 89 i dont think i had a full appreciation of sports and fortunately for me that worked out well as a Duke and Braves fan.