The only downside to the double bye, aside from the rust that comes from waiting to play while everyone else is into the rhythm of the games, is that it trims the maximum number of games that the Panthers can play in the Garden to a mere three games. That is really a shame because no other arena, especially since the inglorious “retirements” of the Boston Garden and the Forum, mean as much to the sport of Basketball (capital B for effect) as Madison Square Garden does. Certainly the Palestra, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Cameron Indoor and other college arenas have a unique charm and a special place in the hearts of basketball fans but really only the Garden has it’s own distinctive global impact on the way that we choose to memorialize the game.
The Sinatra lyric is always trotted out during this time of year for a reason after all, as it is not only a reliable cliche but also a 100% truth; what happens in the Garden is magnified to such a degree in March as to create instant legends. Best of all is that the legend making is not limited merely to “winners” as we are so often apt to do in America. In the Garden not only do we remember the names of champions Bootsy Thornton, Kerry Kittles and Patrick Ewing but also those of the heroes who came up just short in the final stanza such as Jonny Flynn, Brandin Knight and Pearl Washington.
Basketball played on the highest level is celebrated here, regardless of the eventual outcome.
So let’s pull on our Pitt gear, load up the ESPN3 feeds on our work computers and root for the Panthers as they take on the hated Huskies today at noon. While you are doing that though, try to set aside a few moments without your fan hat on and simply take in the beautiful history that we have the privilege to stage every March.
When we celebrate legend-making in the flower of youth.