COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 09: The Missouri Tigers bench celebrates as the winning basket falls through the hoop in a win over the Kansas Jayhawks 62-60 on February 9, 2009 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Sometimes the fates write poetry. Sometimes you get the game that you deserve. Three months ago, no one foresaw that
This game will be the other bookend in a set that goes back to the beginning of basketball time. In
And this is a good way to end. On national television, hosting ESPN’s Gameday, in the most meaningful meeting since the last time
Not long after Naismith made his lone appearance, two original members of the Basketball Hall of Fame put their stamp on the feud. In 1920,
Meanwell didn’t respond, but his team did.
Those games marked the introduction of the thing that has given this series its distinctive color: an immensely fulfilling hatred.
Lest you be confused, we’re talking about sports hate. If you truly hate someone because of their alma mater or favorite team, you are deeply unwell. But sports hate is cathartic and cleansing, a way exorcise the cancerous spots on our souls. Living in
As the book says, to hate like this is to be happy forever.
So if you’re headed to the game, be loud but don’t be loathsome. The Jayhawks may deserve your hate, but they also deserve your grudging respect, because they’re one-half of a great story. And this story is coming to an end.
Sure, there was that one time, in 1961, when sports hate gave way to something much more sinister
But for the most part, the blows landed have been metaphorical, big shots made on the big stage, moments that have made myths out of men.
For me, the hate affair began on February 11, 1987, when Larry Brown, Danny Manning and the Jayhawks came to town, and my fellow freshman Lee Coward sank a three that beat
Three years later, Coward was a senior and one of four Tigers to score at least 20 points in a 95-87 win over top-ranked
Maybe you prefer the biggest upset of them all, when undefeated and undefeatable
After all those nail-biters, sometimes it’s nice to win in a rout. If Jeff Boschee is reading (hi, Jeff!), he might want to cover his eyes at this Clarence Gilbert montage of sharpshooting insanity, which buried
Thomas Gardner was the star on the floor in 2006, scoring 40 points. But the Tiger fans were the stars of the game, as they effectively fractured Christian Moody’s psyche when he needed to make just one of two free throws to win it for
And then there was 2009, the night that
We can only hope that Saturday gives us the same kind of memory. If the fates have their way, it will.
There’s much to like about
Maybe one day, if we’re lucky, we’ll find hate again.