Monday, March 27, 2017

The best part of the weekend

The best part of the weekend just past was not the end of the North Carolina-Kentucky game, which was pretty amazing, or gritty lunchpail South Carolina reaching the Final Four for the first time, or Gonzaga reaching the Final Four for the first time despite all the haters who didn't think the Zags deserved a No. 1 seed.

(It also wasn't Phil Knight University, aka Oregon, reaching the Final Four for the first time since the first NCAA Tournament in 1939, which Oregon won. Although that was cool, too).

No, the best part of the weekend -- a weekend with a lot history going on, obviously -- was what happened Saturday night in Indianapolis.

What happened (speaking of history) was Crispus Attucks winning the 3A boys state title.

This was history writ large, and it happened in an event many think lost some vital connection to a resonant past when Hoosier Hysteria died and March in Indiana split four ways two decades ago. It wasn't lost, really. All it did was change form.

And so to Saturday, when Attucks revealed that the ties that bind us in this basketball state are as strong as ever. Attucks, after all, is one of the iconic schools in Indiana high school hoops history, and probably (with apologies to Milan) the iconic school. Milan, after all, was the David-vs.-Goliath legend mostly in myth. Attucks was that legend in fact.

It was the first predominately African-American school to win a state title, and it did it two years in a row, in 1955 and 1956. The names of those who played at Attucks in the 1950s ring to the touch to this day: Willie Gardner and Hallie Bryant and the greatest Attucks Tiger of them all, Oscar Robertson.

Hallie and Oscar, reportedly, were there Saturday night, cheering on the current generation. It was another reminder that no matter what form it takes, high school basketball in Indiana is still high school basketball in Indiana. The vital connection to a resonant past will never be lost, precisely because that past is so resonant.

Saturday night was just one more marvelous reminder of that.

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