But time is short / and the road is long / in the blinking of an eye / ah that moment's gone!
-David Barrett, One Shining Moment
At the conclusion of CBS's telecast of the NCAA Tournament every year, the Eye airs what is easily the most famous "Ultimate Highlight" in sports: One Shining Moment, its tribute to March Madness.
For two and a half glorious minutes, viewers are treated to shots of fans, mascots, band members with trumpets and trombones, dunks, hustle plays, excited players, crying players, buzzer beaters and clips from the Final Four. The whole thing is set to the soothing voice of Luther Vandross crowing from beyond the grave that "in one shining moment, it's all on the line!" It's the type of video that can temporarily calm you down if you had Memphis winning the national championship.
So, in this spirit of my last words appearing on the sports pages of this newspaper, I bring to you my own version of One Shining Moment, with some of my favorite memories of Duke sports from the last four years.
Fans: Rushing the court after "Forty-Foot Dock"
Not sure how this really transpired since it was all kind of a blur. After the shot went in, I was jumping around grabbing anyone I could when a Virginia Tech mom started berating me for nearly trampling her impish child in celebration. Seeking to get some distance between myself and the psycho mom, and noticing that people had started to "Sean Dockery" onto the court (as Coach K would later describe the action), I strolled onto the hardwood and found myself giving a high-five to a bloody Lee Melchionni (apparently injured in the celebration). It was then that I turned around and found myself face-to-face with Sean Dockery. Unsure what to do, I patted him on the back and rubbed his sweaty head.
To this day, I'm still unsure why I didn't go for the man hug, but it wound up on all the ESPN promos for Duke's next game. Go me.
Mascots: The Blue Devil Wipes Out
I don't want to mock our poor mascot for tearing his ACL while jumping off of the surfboard any more than he has already been in the comments section of YouTube, but the pun was irresistible.
Band Members playing trumpets and trombones: D.U.M.B. in the blue zone
In what was probably the most boneheaded move by a student organization this entire year, the marching band inexplicably decided to serenade Tailgate from within the war zone that is the first lot on the left. They would have been better off walking into a bear cave covered in honey. Needless to say, their Anderson Cooper doppelgänger music director was displeased when revelers decided to steal conductor hats and batons and lead the band in "Everytime We Touch." Too bad they still cut off the jumping part after 10 seconds.
Dunks: J.J. throws it down against Maryland
Gerald Henderson will own the Duke highlight reel for the foreseeable future, but J.J. barely slamming home a breakaway dunk-instead of his usual layup-wins for its shear unexpectedness and the slap-in-the-face statement to the Terrapins.
Hustle Plays: Watching members of the media get over the press row barrier
Years of free buffets in media rooms can do serious damage to a sports writer's physique. As a result, seeing members of the press try and tackle the "up and over the fence" entry to Cameron's press row results in the most entertaining 30 seconds prior to tipoff; it's like the Free Willy movie poster come to life.
Excited Players: Jamal Boykin
For those that missed the Jamal Boykin era, Jamal slapped the floor more times in a 53-point win over Seton Hall than most Duke teams do in an entire season.
Crying Players: Postgame locker rooms
The worst part of a sports journalist's job, and the one reason I could never do it as a career, is when you have to stick a microphone in the face of someone who just lost. Imagine publicly failing at your job, and then having to answer questions about it literally 30 seconds later; for me at least, it was no fun being the person asking those questions. Although games are bad, playoffs are obviously worse: seeing the men's lacrosse and women's field hockey teams come up short in 2005 were easily the hardest stories I ever had to write.
Buzzer Beaters: Duke 71, UNC 70 February 9, 2005
Although not quite a buzzer beater, watching the ball roll off of David Noel's hands out of bounds, looking up at the clock to see it go from :01 to 0:00, hearing the buzzer sound and realizing that Duke had just stopped UNC from taking a shot when the Tar Heels had the ball for the last 18 seconds of the game was the single greatest moment in Cameron for me. If only I had known that it would be the last home victory over UNC I would see, I would have celebrated harder that night.
Clips from the Final Four:
Whoops, never got to see one.
But like Jim Nantz bolting the arena to go to Augusta, I'm departing the sports pages for the friendly confines of the back pages next week. So thanks for reading, and enjoy the tradition unlike any other-the senior columns of The Chronicle.
And when it's done / win or lose / you always did your best / cuz inside you knew... / ONE SHINING MOMENT YOU REACHED FOR THE SKY!
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