For more than a decade, Duke was everybody's favorite flavor, and Vitale, college basketball's most recognizable voice, led the agonizing charge. Everything seemed perfect about Duke. The graduation rates, the focused coach, the cutesy conversations in between free throws, Christian Laettner's painful turnaround jumper to oust Kentucky, The happy national titles. Duke, Duke, Duke.
Last year, it caught up to them. Anymore, only Duke likes Duke. Everybody else (except Vitale, of course) is sick and tired of the act.
So people jumped at the opportunity to find another, any other, that could fill that tired void. And it so happened Arizona was there. Gutsy performances to win the Pac-10 Tournament and advance to the Sweet 16 despite losing four players to the pros the year before. The wonder of retro-hippie Luke Walton. A loaded incoming freshman class to meld with a strong group of seasoned veterans. And it doesn't hurt that Elliott and Tolbert, not to mention Luke's father, Bill, all have prominent announcing slots. Simply put, when people talk about college basketball this season, they talk about Arizona. It's not like they didn't talk in the past. Arizona is a lot more well-known nationally then many in Tucson give it credit. It is undeniably one of the top five programs in the game, and probably 1A behind Duke. Which makes it the perfect candidate to overtake Duke's mantle of love. I mean, how long can you talk about one team before it just gets sickening?
But with loaded recruiting classes for the next two seasons, Arizona fans might start to experience the same phenomenon. The Pac-10 has been tired of Arizona for well over a decade. If the UA keeps itself locked among the top-five in the polls year after year after year while all those media sorts continue to give constant props, eventually Wildcat fans had better brace for the reflex, a catapult of discontent that packs more force than a missile produced at Raytheon.
Fans will get tired of Arizona just as we all have of Duke. But for Wildcat faithful, don't get defensive when it happens. Just expect it. And embrace it. It's simply a price one pays for greatness.
One of the big stories involving Arizona this season centered around Lute Olson's induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. A great honor indeed, but I think this whole Hall of Fame thing has gone a bit overboard.
For instance, shortly after the Olson induction, local car dealer Jim Click was inducted into the Pima County Advertisers Hall of Fame. I'm not joking. They had a ceremony and everything. This begs at least two questions. First, what does one have to do to get inducted into the Pima County Advertisers Hall of Fame? Is it simply a money thing? Were his commercials with Boom-Pah and the kid who does the public access wrestling show worthy of such an illustrious honor? Is the Hall of Fame only available for transplanted Tucsonans with an Oklahoma twang?
OK, so that's more than two questions, and I haven't even asked the only one that matters. Why? Why would someone, or a series of someones, create something like the Pima County Advertisers Hall of Fame. Now that I think of it, where do I go to view the advertising greats? Is there actually a Hall where the inductees are on display? Can one have a Hall of Fame without a hall? Or fame, for that matter?
But the advertisers aren't the only ones at fault. Right down the road, I mean within two miles of my palatial apartment, is the national headquarters for the Handball Hall of Fame. I mean, how sweet is that? All the great handball champions in one location, and it's right down the road. I really should pay my respects.
Of course, there's always the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame. I know of a coach who years ago actually made a stink about not being inducted into this thing. I can only shake my head and ask why. Hell, I've lived in Tucson for well over 11 years, and it took me more than a decade to find the damn building, and only then it happened by accident, after I was done eating Chinese food at a nearby restaurant. Do they have a Chinese food Hall of Fame? If so, why not just situate it in Tucson? Who cares if the Chinese food in Tucson isn't really all that good? Let's have a Hall of Fame here anyway. The Pima County Chinese Food Hall of Fame. I'd get around to finding it eventually.
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