The month of March is a time for beloved basketball fans and the most dreaded time for anyone who loathes it as well. March Madness is exactly that, it is madness! I’ve sadly just realized that it’s not all about college basketball though, for high schools around the United States have their sectionals, regionals, and state championships all in this time too! I don’t know why I am just now figuring that out, but I am.
Showtime took it upon themselves to use it to feature a number of specials on the network for any basketball fans, and since I go back and forth with loving and hating it, (yes, there was a time where I’ve hated basketball!) I found a documentary that I thought would be cool to watch despite the fact that it would premiere on the weekend of my papaw’s passing. I recorded it and hoped that maybe I would leave it to the weekend after so I would (hopefully) get through it in one piece. I barely made a day!
It was called “Perfect In ’76” and was narrated by a fellow Hoosier and musician John Mellencamp and the whole thing discusses the perfect season of Indiana University’s Hoosiers in 1976, it included some of the former players on the team and announcers whether on local TV news stations or radio. It also had the infamous coach Bobby Knight talking about not only the undefeated season in ’76 but also the near-perfect season of the year before when they were beat by Kentucky in the NCAA championship.
One of the things that they first show is Indiana’s landscape of both city life with the campus in Bloomington and rural country sides that is probably the most known feature about the state. The first thing that John explains to the viewer is that “Basketball was invented in Massachusetts, but it was made for Indiana” and included that children were raised on basketball and IU was at the heart of it all. Everything about this scene was true, at least in my family.
My family is a fairly large basketball family, it ranges from IU, Butler, Purdue; my sister’s fiance is actually a fan of North Carolina, so he’s the only non-Indiana team in our family, which according to a number of my family members my papaw seemed to hate them with a passion. He was probably not happy how the 2017 NCAA championship ended. Anyways, this man would tape (well, most of the time it was my nana setting it up) almost every game on television so he could watch it whenever he was at home. We’ve had bookshelves and cabinets full of VCR tapes of basketball games around that house! I remember the late 90’s and we’d have family in the living room watching the game and all of us grandkids on the floor not exactly understanding what all the excitement was about basketball, later on majority of my family played basketball in school, I think everybody but my cousin Amy did it outside of elementary school.
Back to the documentary though, I watched it not really understanding some of the stats – I don’t know all of the correct terms and what the difference between a “forward” and “guard” but I have never had a problem with watching it! So whenever they were discussing the different players and Bobby Knight wanting a better offense when he first became the head coach of the team. I think it all went in one ear and our the other. I really liked it though, it was interesting! We all think of Bobby Knight as this angry dude who threw a chair across the court and got escorted off, but to see him like this especially in the last scene where they’re all sitting in the diner and he makes a speech to his former players and gets choked up a bit about how amazing they were and how he always appreciated them. It changes what we see in this person that has such an intimidating persona.
What I really found sort of hilarious, is that literally four days before I watched this Indiana University actually fired their current coach Tom Crean and everybody in my family about had a field day with this news because my papaw called it a long time ago! A month earlier, Bobby Knight had called into a radio and expressed his feelings against his former bosses and I couldn’t contained myself, I had to laugh at that! Gave it a few years and Tom will probably do the exact thing same and we’ll be back rolling our eyes at him.
Have you seen this documentary yet? Do you love (or hate) basketball?