In the wake of the conclusion to the second longest streak of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances of all time, we would like to throw out some thank you’s.
First and foremost, we’d like to thank god. While this seems cliché in sports, without him and his strength we would not be here. When he came to Tucson in the fall of 1983, he inherited that four-win team. Quickly, the streak began. Without Lute, AP stories would still list Tucson with the AZ attached. So, thank you god.
We’d also like to thank Tom Tolbert, K-Lo, Jud Buechler and any of the other players we don’t quite remember. Thanks Steve Kerr for tearing your ACL allowing you to stick around to get us to that first Final Four. Thanks Sean for starting it all.
Thanks Damon and Khalid and Baby Blair for legitimizing it. Thanks Ray Owes, Ben Davis, Matt Muehlbach, and Reggie. Thanks Joe McClain; if you hadn’t been sick it might have been back-to-back Sweet 16 upsets of Kansas. Which brings us to, a more modern era.
Thanks Jason for those high socks. Thanks Mike for banking that three home against Carolina. Thanks Donnell for putting off possession one year to come off the bench. Thanks Bennett for the springs in your legs. Thanks Miles for the floaters and the shoulder shake. Thanks Eugene for the first branding I ever saw. Thanks Michael Dickerson for being so graceful and so underrated. Thanks AJ for somehow making it work. Thanks Josh for coaching as a player. Thanks Jason Stewart for your God.
Thanks Loren for transferring in. Thanks Michael Wright for being a beast. Thanks Ricky Anderson, how were you a star for a two-loss team? Thanks Richard for jumping. Thanks Gilbert for flying under the radar, at least early in your career. Thanks Jason for PGU. Thanks Luke for the star power. Thanks Isaiah for being chubby. Thanks Andre for those monkey arms. Thanks Hasaan for that one game at Washington and the dunks. Thanks Rock Walters for 5 years of Mono. Thanks Mustafa for trying hard. Thanks Ivan for some Euro (no thanks Robertas Javtokas). Thanks J-Mac for not pissing on any teenagers. Thanks Chase for bump-set-spike. Thanks Jordan for getting SO good SO fast. Thanks Nic for losing the weight. Thanks Kyle for your emergence. Thanks Salim for raining. Thanks Fendi for the bows. Thanks Channing for poetry. Thank you Momo and Kyryl and Derrick and Solomon and Kevin for what’s to come.
Thanks for beating Kansas in 1997. Thanks for that run in 2001. Thanks for outplaying Illinois. Thanks for the Pac-10 championships. Forget the early exits. Thanks for fighting ‘Nova. Thanks for 24 of 25 against ASU. Thanks for the start of the 2001-02 season (Maryland-boom, Texas-boom, Illinois-boom). Thanks for the SI covers.
Thanks for all the tickets we mooched. Thanks for parents who bought tickets. Thanks to everyone who sat in that nasty, sweaty, stinky, hot guest bedroom at my parents’ house humping, face painting, and screaming us to that overtime victory against Gonzaga. Thanks for the cable package in San Diego that got me FSN-AZ. Thanks for that one afternoon where we got to see the basketball team in the football stadium on a school day in April.
Thanks to Jim Harrick and Steve Lavin for running UCLA into the ground for about a decade. Thanks to the rest of the Pac10 for never catching up and your mediocrity (see: Ben Braun, Rob Evans, Bill Frieder, Ernie Kent). Thanks Henry Bibby for your son.
Thanks George for staying clean. Thanks Coach Ros. Thanks Greg Hansen, eh. Thanks Jody Oehler for giving me a forum. Thanks Bobbi for keeping Lute sane. No thanks KO. Thanks Reggie for still recruiting. Thanks Russ for that 7 game run. Thanks for saying “No”, Tim. Thanks for saying “Yes”, Sean.
I do not want this to come across as a Eulogy. AbsoLUTEly not. This is a celebration of Arizona Basketball and all that it has accomplished and the greatness that has been displayed for twenty-five years. This is meant to remember the past and usher in the future. There is so much more to come and this program will once again be on top. After all, Sean said so.
So there you have it. A Silver Anniversary Thank You inspired by a generation of Arizona hoops. If you have any thanks you’d like to add, please post a comment. Don’t bother blaming or pointing fingers; you’re just a Debbie-downer.
As Arizona moves into next season and a new era of greatness, keep in mind that March, springtime, is a season of new beginnings. Let us celebrate that.