2011 UConn Men’s Basketball
Arrival of Champions
Bradley Field, Windsor Locks
For 38 years of life, my favorite two teams (by far) are the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Flyers. The Eagles have zero Super Bowls (having been in and lost two) and while the Flyers have two Stanley Cups, I wasn’t old enough to remember. They’ve lost a whole bunch of finals throughout my life. It sucks.
So when my alma mater, the mighty University of Connecticut, won its first men’s basketball championship in 1999 over the much-hated Duke Blue Devils, I honestly didn’t know how to react. My roommate at the time, who was a life-long Yankees and Celtics fan had to show me the ropes. (Which, apparently, consist of removing one’s clothes and running down the street.)
By the time the boys won their third national championship in 2011, it was old hat. But this team was different. The 2004 team was expected to win and the 1999 team didn’t “shock the world” too much as pudgy little Khalid El-Amin wanted us all to believe. This team was going to eke into the tournament as a 5 or 6 seed, win a game, maybe two and call it a year.
Then a funny thing happened. Kemba Walker became the best player in the country and his teammates woke up from their February slumber. Man, it was fun. They won the Big East Championship and then marched right through the tournament, beating Butler in the Finals in the worst championship game ever. But who cares, they won.
Anyway, I work in Windsor and can get to the airport in less than ten minutes. So when the team arrived, I left my desk at 3:18, arrived at the lot at 3:34, saw the boys for their whole presentation from 3:35-3:41 and was back at my seat less than ten minutes later. No one at work had any idea I had just gone to stand in the 40-degree rain and 30 mph wind to welcome home our champs.
Me and about 150 other dingalings. I felt kind of bad for the team; they had to go through this exercise for such a sparse crowd of fans… But really, the weather was atrocious and the whole thing lasted five minutes anyway. Ah well, I went and now you know what it looked like.