Final fours past

I only remember watching a handful of Final Fours, but some of them were among the best.

The first was in 1974, when David Thompson and NC State ended UCLA’s 7-year run. (It’s nice to be able to use the Internet to help with recall.) Thompson was 6-4 and started the semi-final against UCLA by blocking a shot by 7-footer Bill Walton. Dunking was illegal back then, but Thompson and 5-7 point guard Marty Towe would do these beautiful alley oops where Thompson would fly above the rim and sorta drop the ball through. Thompson could knock a quarter off the top of the backboard (but could not replace it with two dimes and a nickel, as the myth said.) My brother Jeff and I used to imitate the Towe to Thompson alley oops on my Nerf basketball hoop (much like we used to play Saunders and McHale).

Drugs and alcohol abuse kept Thompson from reaching his potential as a pro. Some say he could’ve been Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan.

Other Final Fours I remember: Magic Johnson winning the championship (though I don’t remember Bird and Indiana State); Keith Smart’s buzzer beater for Indiana; Villanova’s timeless win over Georgetown; UConn with Khalid El-Amin from Minneapolis; Duke beating the Fab Five from Michigan (after Laettner’s buzzer-beater got them into the final game).

I watched the semi final Michigan/Connecticut game on the weekend, but I got bored with the final last night and went to bed before it was over.


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