Midnight Madness

For those of you who weren't around when I blogged about it a whole year ago, midnight madness marks the start of the basketball season. People who are proud enough to call themselves real fans all head to McKale Center, the home of the Arizona basketball team where the first basketball practice of the season begins at midnight. There are assorted activities, namely a slam dunk competition and a three-point shootout. In the meantime the organisers try to stuff small competitions and giveaways to bide the time till midnight.
As usual, it was rather badly organised. I guess there's no easy way around this – people want to see the basketball team that carries their hopes for the coming season, and they want to see it now. The small contests like giving a car away if you sink a layup, free throw, three pointer AND a half-court shot has such small odds that it doesn't take a mathematician to lose interest. The saving grace of last year's midnight madness was the slam dunk competition. Richard Jefferson (now with the New Jersey Nets) dunked the basketball, putting the entire length of his forearm into the rim. He also jumped over a cheerleader and an audience member in another dunk. This year the competition was a tad less exciting. In the words of a randomly selected guest judge when asked who impressed him, "None of them did".
In the little scrimage they had, they missed layups and jumpshots. Rick Anderson wasn't paying attention to his teammate's pass and the ball hit him on the side of the head. Travis Hanour missed a dunk, Will Bynum caught the rebound and missed the layup….you get the picture, and it's not a pretty one.
The thing about being a fan is that you stick through it thick and thin. The marvelous thing about fan-ship is the hope that accompanies it. It may well be a hope that is statistically-challenged, but you cling on to it for dear life like you would a lottery ticket. But better than the odds of a lottery ticket, we have the head coach of the Arizona basketball program Lute Olson, a living legend if you will. He will, without a doubt, turn these rough, broken pieces into polished diamonds studded in a seamless work of art called a team. Maybe my faith is misplaced, or my judgement impaired, but I am here along for the ride. When we get, not if, but when we get to the final four, you'll hear the words of a fan – "I told you so".
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