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.
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.