Endless Gratitude From a Loyal City

Syracuse basketball. National championships. Until Monday, those phrases did not belong in the same sentence. Now, everything has changed in the Salt City, and it is all because of the men in orange and their underrated coach. On behalf of the whole city of Syracuse and its fans, I offer these praises to the whole team.

Carmelo Anthony: At the risk of writing the longest article ever, I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. You constantly answered every question your critics had. You showed you were the best freshman in the land. Your tournament play showed that you probably got snubbed from winning the Player of the Year award. The talent you were blessed with never went to your head. Your personality was everything that was right in a go-to guy as much as Preston Shumpert's was everything that was wrong with a go-to guy last year. For someone who was always the best player on the floor, your humble attitude made you well liked by all your peers. Most of all, your enthusiasm for the game warmed the frigid central New York winter as well as the hearts of all your fans. Your smile is infectious. Heck, you've even got your coach smiling, something he seeemingly hates to do. Whether or not you decide to come back for another year, you have changed this city and its basketball team forever. Keep smiling and those who watch you will do the same.

Kueth Duany: Another person who signifies the change in attitude from last year to this one. Your senior leadership was essential to a young team. As good as you were on the court, your job off the court in helping your teammates never went unnoticed. On the court, your contributions showed through. The Orangemen were 22-1 when you scored in double digits. I'd say that's pretty good.

Gerry McNamara: The man with the golden shot and the golden heart. Your pure stroke is a work of art. Your grit and determination make you the floor general that you are. You have basketball knowledge beyond your years. It's no wonder Scranton loves you so much.

Hakim Warrick: Few players are as exciting as you. Your length allows you to play much taller than your height. Your dunks electrify the crowd. You are one of the most improved players in the country. And I'll make a prediction: your block at the end of the championship game will be the biggest of your career.

Craig Forth: Nobody ever gives you the credit you deserve. Never flashy, but you're always solid. A lot of the things you do well go unnoticed because you are "fundamentally sound." You do the things you are supposed to do, and most take that for granted. People also forget what you bring off the court to the team, the community, and in school. Keep doing what you do. People will eventually learn what it is that makes you an integral part of this team.

Billy Edelin and Jeremy McNeil: Both of you have seen your share of problems. Jeremy, what you've gone through this season in your personal life is more difficult than anyone will ever endure on the court. Your re-dedication to basketball and flourishing role as intimidator were instrumental during the team's run this year. Billy, you've had to wait a year and a half to show people who you really are. Now that you've shown everyone, we can see why you were supposed to be here to begin with. Both of you fulfilled your roles to perfection, always doing what you do best.

Josh Pace: One word: intangibles. You are all over the court, hustling every second. Your stat line is something of a buffet table: a little bit of everything. You are so versatile and quietly had possibly the best tournament of anybody on the team not named Carmelo.

Tyrone Albright: Your story is an inspirational one to all. At 26 years old, you balance school work, basketball, and the job of being a husband and a father to three children. You do it all with such dignity. Though you did not play much, you served as a real-life role model to all that watched you.

Andrew Kouwe, Josh Brooks, Xzavier Gaines, Matt Gorman, Gary Hall: You do all the stuff behind the scenes that make the team better. Day after day you bust your tails knowing that come game time, you probably won't get in. A team is only as good as its weakest link. Being that you are national champions, I'd say you guys are pretty good.

Jim Boeheim: I'll do it for you. For all those who didn't think he could win a championship: what now? You've silenced your critics, though you knew all along that you didn't need to win the big one to validate your career. You've smiled more during this season than you have in all other seasons combined. You truly looked to be enjoying every moment. I guess it's easy to do that when you realize you get to watch something special every day for four months. You ARE Syracuse. We will want you as here as long as you want to coach. You will forever be our coach. You will forever be a great coach. Just now you have some jewelry to show for it.

A story could not have been written better. It used to be that analysts praised teams for their senior leadership. Maybe now they'll respect teams for their freshmen maturity. If so, we will all know where that tradition started: right here on the Syracuse University hill, where people celebrate basketball national championships in the snow. Syracuse: 2003 national champions. It still sounds funny. But I'm sure I'll be able to get used to it.

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