Thursday, April 01, 2021

Enjoy The First Day Of April - As March Madness Extends Into April

 I used to try to put something clever up on April 1.  My favorite was Palin Announces Conversion, with this image I put together back in 2010:

In 2019 I vowed not to do any April Fool's Day posts until after Trump was out of the White House.  But even now there's still nothing one can write that can compete with what Fox News offers every day.  

On the other hand, common decency never seemed so powerful.  The only aggression in the White House these days seems to be coming from the President's dogs.  

Maybe next year I'll be ready again.  The snow is starting to evaporate.  There's even an area in the backyard, under the trees, where it looks like there's soil showing.  Enjoy flowers poking out of the ground.  We still have a ways for that to be happening here.  

I'd also note that UCLA beat Michigan Monday to move to the Final Four.  

I was at the LA Sports Arena on December 28, 1963 when UCLA beat then Number 3 ranked Michigan at the LA Classic.  UCLA had won all its games up to then, but hadn't really played any important teams.  And UCLA was not seen as a basketball power before that season.  There wasn't even a basketball arena on campus.  They even played some of their home games that season at Santa Monica City College.  Michigan was the test to see if their seven game winning streak was just a fluke.

But the game began with an early display of John Wooden's full court press, and in the first three or four minutes, UCLA was ahead 16 to nothing.  The victory was all that much sweeter because among us was a Michigan fan who had no doubt, before the game, who would win.  

That was UCLA's first National Championship of their dynasty period.  They had 30 wins in a row.  Every game was a nail biter - could they keep their winning streak alive.  Their tallest starting players that year were Fred Slaughter and Keith Erickson at 6'5".  Stars Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazard were 6'1" and 6'3" respectively.  Lew Alcindor (later to become Karim Abdul Jabbar) was still playing high school ball in New York.  

Most of this is still very vivid in my brain all these years later, but I did check Wikipedia to be sure of some of the details. I also found an article on the game in the January 6, 1964 Sports Illustrated, but it didn't tell me what I wanted to know - whether the Bruins got their opening 16 points in two minutes or four.

But what struck me was that the article was written by long-time NPR sports commentator Frank Deford.  Deford died at age 78 in 2017.  So that means he was probably only 24 when he wrote that story at Sports Illustrated.  

I had no idea what all I was going to discover tonight writing this post.  I must say that being at UCLA at the start of their dynasty, and then a couple of years later watching the Freshman team (with Lew Alcindor) beat the national champion varsity team at the beginning of the season spoiled me.  There was never going to be anything better than those years.  

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