The Importance of March Madness

peyton siva and father

 

If you’re anything at all like me, this time of year is one of your favorites. I’m a huge sports nut. It’s what I’m studying at school, it’s what I’ve spent my whole life consuming, and it’s what I intend to spend the rest of my life doing.

 

And March Madness is just another level of sports enjoyment. You have mid major schools fighting for recognition, you have underdogs fighting for a chance, nku first tournament

and you have schools that are entering their first NCAA tournament after just becoming eligible this year.

 

Players literally leave every part of them on the floor, giving everything that they have for a chance at April glory.

 

Sometimes, you get heartbreak.

 

The beauty of it all is that these players have one chance. It’s different from the NBA or MLB  where it’s most likely that the best team wins it all that year. Any favorite can get cold and lose in the second or even first round.

duke lehigh

 

Or any small town team from Carolina can get carried by a future two-time NBA MVP all the way to the Elite 8.

steph magic

 

All of these things are important. Exciting. Enthralling. Must-watch-tv.

 

But the best part about March, and about all of this Madness, is the bevy of opportunities that it creates.

 

My earliest memories of March Madness are with my dad. My dad went to Xavier University, and carried his alumni status into rabid fandom. Naturally, that fandom carried over to me as well.

 

Xavier has enjoyed a lot of success in the NCAA tournament in the last decade, making the Sweet Sixteen in 5/10 of those years, and even making the Elite 8 in 2008. That was the game they lost to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love.

 

I remember watching it at a sports bar with my dad.

 

in 2012, they made it to the Sweet 16 to face a stacked Baylor team. They didn’t win, and in fact it wasn’t all that close until the end of the game.

 

I remember sitting in a hospital watching that one with my dad too.

 

But my most fond memory of March Madness was back in 2010. Xavier had had a good year, led by their superstar guard combo of Jordan Crawford and Tu (then Terrell) Holloway. They had a sweet 16 matchup with Kansas State.

 

This game was later at night on the East Coast, starting at 9. I was in 8th grade at the time, and I was at my dad’s house on a Thursday night. We snuck downstairs right around 8:30, turned on the pregame, and watched. We were relatively subdued throughout the broadcast until the end of the game, when all of the madness happened.

By that time it was close to 11, and we had to try to be quiet so as to not wake up the wake up the whole house. The game swayed back and forth, Kansas State looking like it was going to break away and Xavier matching their shots all game.

 

But through the magic of March, Xavier sent it to overtime.

 

Toward the end of the first overtime, Xavier looked done. Kansas State hit shot after shot and Xavier was finally running out of gas. And that was when it happened. Down 3 with 8 seconds left, Jordan Crawford took the ball toward the right side of the 3 point arc. He jumped up from 30 feet away and absolutely nailed the game-tying shot, sending the game to another overtime.

 

Madness ensued.

 

We were anything but quiet after that. I remember jumping, stamping, running around the first floor of the house like I never had before, and I remember my dad being right by my side during it all. It felt like I had never been that excited in my entire life, and I looked over to my dad feeling the same emotions.

 

I couldn’t tell you the score at the end of the game. I only remember that Xavier lost because of the article I just read on Wikipedia.

 

No, what i remember was much more important.

 

father and son

 

Here’s to March.

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Sports are fun

My favorite person in the sports world and quite possibly any celebrity in general, is Steph Curry.

For tons of reasons.

For starters, he is in many expert opinions, the best shooter the NBA has ever seen. He is quickly climbing the career list of made 3’s and is shooting them at a career rate of 44%, which is absolutely staggering. He is also a family man, with two young children and a beautiful wife who he met at church.

 

These are just some of the reasons I love Steph.

 

And I can remember the night it all started. Sitting in my friend’s basement, we had the tv on watching basketball because it was a Saturday night and we were just chilling. We could start to hear the announcer’s getting louder and louder, so we actually gave our attention to the television, and what we looked up at was something awesome:

 

 

This (relatively) small and skinny guy absolutely making it rain for 54 points on basketball’s biggest stage, Madison Square Garden in New York City. I had heard of Steph before, but I had never really paid close attention to him.

 

That was about to change.

 

That was my junior year of high school. Fast forward to my freshman year of college, and I’m deep into the obsession. I’m watching Steph every time he’s on television, I’m googling his stats before and after games, and I’m starting to get into r/nba, which is an offshoot on the site called Reddit, which makes it very easy to follow things you like, including sports. This was the year where I legitimately watched every game, from start to finish. This also happened to be Steph’s breakout year in the NBA. The Golden State Warriors had been knocked out of the playoffs in 7 games by the Los Angeles Clippers the year before, but they were ready to make a run.

 

And Steph came out on fire. Before a month into the season was up, he was leading MVP discussions. This was absolutely mesmerizing to me. My favorite player is now the talk of the league.

 

steph smilin.jpg

 

More months pass, and Steph is still leading the NBA in MVP buzz. His team, the Warriors, are leading the NBA with the best record. And there I was, fully engrossed into the NBA for the first time in my life.

 

*side tangent: now, I had watched the NBA prior to this. My first ever experience with professional basketball was turning it on in ’06 and watching Dwyane Wade and his Miami Heat take down first the Detroit Pistons, and then the Dallas Mavericks to win a title with Shaq by his side. So I grew a little bit of an affinity for Wade, and a little affinity for the Heat. But this was nothing like my obsession with Steph. Anyway…

 

There I was, watching every game, even carving time out of my college social life to sit and watch basketball. I can even remember a night where I had 4 or 5 friends packed into my tiny dorm room to watch movies, and I was on the top bunk of our bed, headphones in, watching the Warriors play the Sacramento Kings. I remember that night because it was the night Klay Thompson, the starting Shooting Guard for the Warriors, dropped 37 points in a quarter, which was an NBA record.

 

Fast forward another couple months and the playoffs are beginning. I’m all the way invested. I’ve bought jerseys,

 

steph-san-fran

 

shoes, surprise-party-currys

 

keychains,

steph-keychain

bobbleheads,

steph-curry-bobble

and more.

 

The NBA announces the MVP award right after the playoffs start. Or at least they did until this year. So here I am, watching Steph and the Warriors take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, and I hear them announce that it is final.

 

Steph Curry is the MVP of the NBA.

 

I watched the entire press conference, and re-watched it several times after that. His speech blew me away. This small guard from Davidson College who was lightly recruited out of high school is now the MVP of the NBA. His character is also right there, being a devout Christian and a family man, and one who knows exactly how to talk to the media without stirring up any trouble and still providing insightful knowledge.

 

And there I am being blown away by him game in and game out, always wanting to watch more.

 

It didn’t hurt that Steph and the Warriors also won the championship that year, taking down LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

steph-championship

Nah, it didn’t hurt at all.

 

Sports are fun.