I prefer college basketball to the professional variant, the former being comprised of aspiring young athletes that play both ends of the court, and the latter – to my way of thinking, anyway – consisting of 10 overpaid guys that jump into the air every 22 seconds. But I typically don’t spend much time watching early season ball, preferring to wait until the sweet sixteen have winnowed the field down to something more manageable. I didn’t watch the season opener yesterday, but I would have liked to.
Courtesy of his status as something in between a complete anonymity and a quasi- pseudo- hemi- demi – blogger of ambiguous influence, your host was provided numerous and diverse varieties of official correspondence telling him that there was going to be a college basketball game aboard the USS Carl Vinson yesterday evening. Summat of an event, it was foretold. No room at the inn and all, but worth writing about.
I was otherwise engaged of course, and in any even had sort of assumed that they’d be cranking down the hoops in the hangar bay, installed who knows when and intermittently employed when the bay itself isn’t all full of yellow gear and aircraft. I was mistaken.
I should have known better, of course. Big Navy doesn’t do things in small ways, and the word that the Basketball-Fan-In-Chief planned to be in attendance on Veteran’s Day should have clued me in that it was going to be Kind of a Big Deal.
Everyone seemed to have fun:
That’s (accuracy outside the arc) not what this was about, and that’s not what anybody will remember about this event. North Carolina will win more games, and Michigan State will indeed shoot better. The on-the-court product will improve for both squads, the on-the-court memories will stack. But in terms of spectacles, this was the pinnacle, perhaps even more of an experience than a trip to the Final Four. This was unique — from meeting the President to dunking under the moon, from walking around a Navy base to having to wonder whether a basketball game might get rained out.
The whole event was first-class and special.
It culminated with players removing their jerseys and handing them to wounded soldiers.
It was just a small token of appreciation.
But it was a token.
And it was sweet to watch.
“It’s the neatest thing that I’ve ever been a part of,” said UNC coach Roy Williams. “I absolutely loved it.”
It was probably worth the price of entry just to watch two college basketball teams stop play in honor of evening colors.
BZ, Navy. Well done, ‘Heels. Keep practicing, Spartans.