As I bounced on the floor of the living room Tuesday evening, screaming at the television — “Get him off his back! Don’t fouls get called both ways? Even my grandmother could have seen that one!” — I really realized that I love Indiana basketball.
For almost 50 years, I have listened to Don Fischer call the games on the radio, sat glued to the television watching the colors of crimson and cream streaking up and down the floor or cheered in person for the boys in the pinstriped warm-ups.
Tuesday night, the Hoosiers traveled to East Lansing, Mich., just to play a basketball game. The best two teams in the Big Ten, tied for the league’s lead, would battle to see who would rest alone at the top of the mountain. No. 1 in the nation versus No. 4 in the nation. My wife said she didn’t think she could watch the game — it would make her too nervous. I quipped back that this game is exactly what Indiana basketball is all about. Indiana plays to be No. 1.
Have you ever noticed that during impassioned moments our mind remembers things? In the heat of the moment, there were so many things I could have remembered. I might have conjured up memories of a loss against Kentucky in a tournament game in 1975 handing the team their only loss of the year and eliminating their bid for the NCAA championship.
I could have remembered games like the first round of the NCAA tournament in 1988 against the Richmond Spiders where they lost unceremoniously to a team with more heart than talent. I might have remembered how bad I felt when the university fired Bob Knight as coach, or worse yet, hired Kelvin Sampson. I might have pondered Tom Crean’s first season at Indiana where he only had two players return and together they had less than 10 minutes of game experience. I might have sighed as I thought about his first three seasons and a less than 30 percent victory rate.
Instead, my heart and mind were flooded with very different remembrances. I thought about walking up the hill to Assembly Hall with my dad during bitter cold winter games. I smiled as I remembered taking my own family each year to the Hoosier Classic games in Indianapolis. I relived Kent Benson cutting down a piece of the net after the unblemished season.
I talked about shots by Keith Smart, uncanny accuracy by Steve Alford, of gutty play by Damon Bailey, and scores of others who proudly wore the school’s colors. I pulled up a YouTube video and made my daughter watch a chair slide across the end of a basketball court. I found an old Farm Bureau commercial and listened to a lady mopping the hallway singing, “Indiana, we’re all for you!”
Instead, I high-fived my daughter, paced around the floor and threw my IU cap at the wall. I yelled myself hoarse, drank colas during timeouts and caused the walls to shake when a basket was scored. I wore my traditional IU garb, had my good-luck chips and queso at Qdoba before the game and thought of having a Mama Bear’s pizza delivered to our car as we sat in line waiting to get into the parking lot at Assembly Hall on a cold December’s night. I held my breath for the last 21 seconds — including two timeouts and a time-keeper who couldn’t push a button. I collapsed and then bounced with victorious jubilance as the Izzo-ites finally had to stand still.
So last night, in front of my television, I had a love that remembered no wrongs. I did not even consider the frailties of the past; I cheered feverishly for the moment and dreamed of future banners on the wall.
Wouldn’t it be remarkable if our love for people were so strong that it would make us not remember wrongs? Wouldn’t that be a love of another kind?
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.