The Shot That Exploded in Pandemonium

  • Mike McCurry
  • 10/31/17
From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, October 26, 2017
It was a shot that had been practiced hundreds of times, until it was perfect. But on this night, more was riding on the shot, and it meant so much more. This was the big dance—the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game.
It had been an epic battle that came down to the last four seconds. Trailing 73-72, Indiana Hoosier junior guard Keith Smart shocked the world, and sank an 18-footer over the Syracuse defense. The impact of that shot shown live on national television exploded in pandemonium in Bloomington, Ind.
Now that baseball season is sadly and officially over, we can continue to watch our Bears and my Vikings, and also my first love: basketball.
My passion for football probably came from my dad, who played at the University of Miami. He was later my coach for football (and every sport) until high school. I was part of a football family, and it was just part of my DNA.
Even though football was king in my home, it was not my first true love. Having grown up in Indiana, I can testify that almost every driveway in my neighborhood included a standing basketball hoop, or had one on the garage. After school, you could usually find my friends and I playing a pick up game somewhere around town. We would play almost every day—even after football practices. It was an integral part of the culture in Indiana, and it seemed this was the chosen sport everyone wanted to participate in.
During the offseason in high school, many of my football buddies joined the male cheerleading squad for basketball season. It was a strategic move, because it got us excellent courtside seating at the games, and since most gyms were standing-room only, fans were regularly turned away. Our cheerleading squad brandished large megaphones, and performed stunts with our female counterparts. Our high-school experience was centered around the Friday night basketball games, and we loved it.
Now having my own children, it seemed natural to have a basket in my driveway. You can often see us shooting hoops until late at night. My youngest daughter was recently chosen to play for a travel team, and I couldn’t be more excited for her. She is the tallest girl in her class, so I’m sure it will give her an advantage on the court. She began her young career at the Clarendon Hills Park District with coach Kelly Smith, superintendent of recreation. Kelly does such a fantastic job organizing the children, and has an enormous amount of patience.
The park district just started its boys’ and girls’ fall youth basketball league. If you have a first-, second- or third-grader, you should quickly call Kelly, 630-323-2626, to see if there is still room. The season goes from Oct. 24 to Dec. 16.
And if you are an adult who still likes to play basketball, the park district will open up the Clarendon Hills Middle School (CHMS) gym for adult-only play on Tuesday nights from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Many locals play pick-up games year-round over at Hinsdale Middle School, but this is an opportunity to play on our home court, at CHMS, and on the newer hardwood floor. It’s just $3 for residents.
On Wednesday, November 22nd at 9:30 AM at Prospect School, there will be a free throw challenge for parent/child teams. It’s appropriately called the Turkey Shoot Out and kids of all ages can come participate. Prizes are given out to the teams in each age group (ages 8 and under, 9-10 years old, and 11-14 years old) who make the most of their 10 free throws.  Registration is open now and required.
It was a dream come true to be on campus for that 1987 National Championship game against Syracuse, and when Keith Smart drained the shot. Pandemonium really did hit the streets, and within minutes, thousands of fans gathered in the frigid cold to celebrate the victorious Hoosiers. Many of them clambered around the middle of campus at Showalter Fountain. The iconic fountain contains a statue in the middle known as the Birth of Venus, and has water-spewing dolphins surrounding it.
But this wasn’t the first time I celebrated around that fountain for a basketball championship Indiana won it in 1981. On that occasion, I saw the huge bronze fish being pulled from their attached state as they seemed to come alive, dancing on the backs of masses of fans celebrating their team, and the greatest game on earth.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.

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