March 23 2008.
“The game is tied for the first time since eleven-all.
“And five minutes to go for—The Sweet Sixteen.”How did it come to be so important?
The boys have energy, shouldn't their legs be dead by now? Bouncing dashing swatting, trying to block guys that look two times bigger. A whistle echoes as Wright jumps for the layup and the referee yells, voice grating and pointing harsh—
“Oh Steph,” Dad mutters.
“Yes, it is on Curry, it’s his third—” Nantz confirms. Steph breathes hard, brow furrowed, raises his arms. Wright’s big sweaty shoulders heave up one make, one miss.
“—Just a fifty-two percent free throw shooter,” Packer babbles as Jason brings it down, “you know the form is better than that but you have to look at the fact nice back door cut!”
Because Jason's hands are lightning, hurling the ball over heads and shoulders, all the way from his deadeye corner to the basket where Steph has elbowed through to catch it, now diving under the basket, flinging it loose with a defender in his face, and a whistle pierces before it even falls through the net—which it does.
“OH MY LORD!” I shriek as Raleigh crackles, explodes with disbelieving deafening noise. Steve turns and pummels the air, Mike Schmitt kicks his legs and screams into a grin on the end of the bench, my brother and father whoop gleefully hands clapping eyes glazing.
“And one for Curry, what a pass!”
Georgetown brings it down, passing it around and around, and when it gets underneath the basket Steph, Jason, and Steve surround them, bumping, blocking—
A whistle cracks through, loud voice grunts—“Thirty!”
“That’s gonna be on Curry I believe… my goodness, with 4:15 left in the game…”
Dell’s jaw is jumping.
“Austin Freeman has hit the front end of a 1 and 1, can tie the game with 4:15 to play, Stephen Curry has four fouls…”
60-60. Steph, hands on his knees, head tilted slightly to Bob’s voice in his ear.
Jason Jason Jason Max
“The story here, Davidson down seventeen a couple of minutes into this second half—”
Max push drive Max push drive all arms all long limbs against
“—Curry with fifteen second half points after a cold first half, to help bring ‘em back—”
Max to Stephen grab step wait MOVE
“Comin off forty points on Friday, what a nifty move—”
He twists through two defenders who can barely reach to touch, lifts the ball through the air far away from prying hands, scoops and slips it easily (easily?) through the net.
“OH! WHAT A HIGHLIGHT!”
“Oh my lord!”
“—shut down for awhile today, but not now!”
Georgetown clunks from three, Andrew pulls it down in one smooth yank.
My brain is melting into my heart where I don't understand things, I just feel.
Stephen bends down to tie his shoe.
Jason watches, directing with his eyes, ball moving up and down like it was born into his hand. Stephen runs steadily up behind him, turning, close enough for Jason to pass it off, the blue NCAA logo under their quick feet.
Steph with the ball pivots, crouches, lurches.
“What a stretch of action this has been, Texas escaping with a win as a two seed, Tennessee a two in trouble—”
Pull up, release, bodies don't matter. Oh, there’s someone in front of me?
The boys wait, knees bent into hope. There is murmuring, there is yelling in that arena from its depths to its seams, there is the push pound of my own heart, but somehow, for a split second, we are stunned into silence and there is only one sound.
I didn’t know that a ball falling through a net could be so loud.
“Oh my goodness! Another three!”
WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
Steph is jumping. Jump jump jumping.
Jason’s arms rise, up and down up and down just like my daydream but real
“The two in the Midwest is in serious jeopardy—”
Sonya sinks into her seat, a bemused smile trembling onto her pretty face, and my phone buzzes with Anna all the way up in Rhode Island:
Oh. My. God.
I realize that the United States of America is, at this moment, peppered all across with redblack shirts in post-Easter brunch living rooms, screaming for a resurrection.
They suddenly cut away to the Tennessee/Butler game, headed into overtime and now we're only a little boxed blurb at the top of the screen. "NO!"
A BOX, CBS? You KIDDING ME?
Still timeout, still 2:41 left. "Oh my god oh my god oh my god..." Inhale exhale inhale exhale keep on squinting for any change.
Dad has the look on his face, biting his lip. “So much time…”
2:41, 2:41… you’re effing killing me, 2:41.
I bound upstairs to the computer, MMOD don't fail me now—
“THEY’RE BACK! THOMAS FOULED OUT!”
Roy Hibbert’s at the line, a product of Thomas’s foul.
“C’mon c’mon c’mon,” I mutter.
It rims out.
“See? Useless,” Mason cackles.
Jason Stephen Jason Stephen eight seconds Stephen and he squares up and arcs it too straight too straight—
Andrew leaps for it? And LAYS IT IN???
“Seven—nothing—run,” Jim Nantz marvels.
Sapp hits a long three. 4 points 4 points 1 minute 35 seconds…
I shakily text as many people as I can think of, ZachElizabethJoeEmRachelMikeBeccaAnna somehow I’ve got to get to them and there's nothing else to say: OH MY GOD
Jason drives puts it up Hibbert blocks and knocks but—
“That oughta be goaltending, it is, on Hibbert—”
You mean WE GET TWO MORE POINTS?!?!?!
Wallace lays it in. 69-65. 1:08. One minute and eight seconds. Sixty-eight seconds.
Seconds pass by quickslow, the pound-pound-pound of blood into my heart, the pound-pound-pound of the ball to the wood.
Do I even have any thoughts? Can my brain even function except to watch what’s taking place in front of me?
Jason Steph Jason Steph time is running OUT STEPHEN eight seconds Steph to Max come on Max—
Summers pulls in for a one-handed dunk. 2-point game?
“Shit…Shit shit shit...”
Steve inbounds to Steph who immediately gets fouled. I let my breath go. “Yes!”
This baby-faced kid. He’s in my sociology class.
His mom is whooping, close to crying, beaming teary shine in her chiffon. What are you doing, baby boy of mine?
Wright sprints down court with the ball, jerks as Steph puts up his hands for a stop, manages to brush past but slams into Steve who hits flat on his back, "no call?!" Steph lunges at the bouncing ball, cradles it against his chest bends deep into it Hibbert curves around to—
“Into the arms of Stephen Curry, Hibbert fouls out!”
“WOOHOO!” Mason yells, starts texting.
My mind does not understand what might happen. My brain, my heart, these limited things— they do not wrap around it. It is impossible. They pan over to the bench. Civi has his hands on his head, eyes wild and wide. Thomas, Boris, Will stand and wait, biting lips and craning necks and bouncing antsy, Thomas' bandaged thumb limp by his side. Bryant searches the crowd, finds someone—parents, siblings, girlfriend?—and lights up with a grin, sidling his hands back and forth calm down, calm down then suddenly bursts into an “OH!” that I can't hear but I can feel, his heart flaming out through his eyes, pulsing shoulders barely able to contain—
What? What could happen? What is 16.3 seconds away from happening?
“That’ll be it for Hibbert, and it might be the end of his Georgetown career—”
My grandparents chuckle openly at me as I let the profanities fly, their quiet writer-reader oldest granddaughter who got the sports passion gene after all...
Steph hits the first one.
“We could have a Southern Conference school in the Sweet 16 before an ACC school—”
Hits the second. I do not have a brain I do not have a plan I do not have a still bone in my body.
“Now they need two threes to tie—”
And they know it. Summers runs, hops, skips, launches it, pshh—
“WHAT THE HELL?” How, how did that ball just go in?
"Wow!" Dad exclaims, rocking forward in his chair.
“Immediate foul here, and try to keep the ball out of Richards’ or Curry’s hands.”
Steph's already skidding and sliding around in front of Steve with two guys on him, trying to break out, reaching for the ball, connecting perfectly. Chris Wright jolts with frustration.
“You kinda like his chances to make ‘em?”
“Y’know, really—it’s a matter of will he make one. He’s got two chances, I love his chances.”
Clank. (Thanks, fellas.)
And Stephen Curry steps off the line, shoulders rising and falling into a deep breath, high fives his friends, steps back again. Jason Richards stands behind him, a smile curling on his sweat shined face.
"Well, you talk about a giant killer... This is big, right here—
"What Davidson could pull off right here."
I don't understand.
Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.
I don’t know what to do even more than Friday I don’t know what to do because this, this—
I rise, standing in my grandparents’ basement that I’ve known since I was born, long before I knew the place and the people that I'm standing for at this moment, the place and the people that I love, the people that—
Oh my god.
"Shot up Sapp—no—"
Andrew rips into the rebound and I'm screaming, all I know is that I'm screaming deep into my gut and I'm moving, past the television that I can't hear anymore, leaping towards my father, ringing him out with a hug still yelling and he's yelling too and I wrench away to the other end of the basement body shaking palms sweaty and all I can do is keep pushing my heart through my mouth because I will die if I stop screaming because because—because—
A buzzer rings six hours away in Raleigh… or maybe it’s ringing in my ears… or maybe it’s buzzing in my pocket.
Her name dances bouncily on my phone, the buzz in my hand quiet amidst my family's yelling, and when I see her name, I know for sure— this is real.
Oh my god.
Going to the sweet sixteen sweet sixteen sweet sixteen down seventeen BEAT GEORGETOWN what the fuck is going on the boys did it they did it I knew they could do a lot I knew they could win one game but holy shit I never ever thought never ever the boys the boys my school we did it jasonrichards thomas boris STEPH steve max bryant will andrew brendan bob oh my god oh my god oh my god holy shit what is going on this is a dream this has to be a dream I don’t care how many times I have dreamed about this but no I never EVER dreamed about THIS never ever ever I wanted to beat Gonzaga we beat Gonzaga but JUST BEAT FUCKING GEORGETOWN—