You don’t have to tell Famous Coach how important Saturday’s game is. He already knows.
A scrawled, painted banner hangs on Fan’s house saying that this is the year for Basketball Team to win it all. Assistant Coach’s daughter kissed him goodbye at the airport, telling him to “win it all, Daddy.” A handwritten note, penned by Someone Who Couldn’t Make It, hangs on a locker in the New Orleans Arena locker room reading “This is Team’s year.” Students at University have ditched their classes and carpooled to the Big Easy for a glimpse of the moment when Team would bring home the trophy.
This is the Final Four.
Best Player has been waiting for this moment his entire life, from the moment he set foot on a basketball court for the first time when he was in the sixth grade. His opponent? Fellow Player. They didn’t know it then, but they’d soon join up to lead Team to the championship. And now all comes down to this.
Famous Coach has breakfast with Moral Center Of The Team once a week. They talk about the team, the game of the previous weekend, the game of the upcoming weekend. “This team’s really magical, you know,” Moral Center Of The Team told Famous Coach on Thursday morning during their weekly meal, a tear misting in his eye. He knows, more than anyone, how special this team truly is. Because these teammates are more than another University team. They’re his friends. His family. They’re there for each other.
They picked each other up off the floor after a devastating loss to Awful Team early in the season, and kept each others’ spirits high when Middle-Tier Team beat them or came close to beating them. When the sports pundits said Team wasn’t what they were supposed to be, they didn’t listen. When the papers tried to challenge Famous Coach’s credentials by rehashing past controversies, he refused to let their attacks get to him. When Beloved Senior missed three or more games due to Injury, Team rallied to win games in his honor. “We had to do it for Beloved Senior,” said Player With Questionable Past, “because that’s what we do.”
In City, the streets run Color with Team spirit. Because City is a place where basketball truly means something. Where young men dream of playing for University someday, and grown men recall the past greats which gave University the legacy it holds today. Just ask Old Man in Barbershop. He’ll tell you what it meant to see Past Great play ball. He still remembers watching Famous Game on his black and white television, back before City had high-definition television, or even cable TV. He remembers how that Win or Loss felt. He’ll tell you how important University basketball is. He’s lived it.
No one knows what it means to be a Team Nickname more than Walkon, who was once told by doctors he’d never play basketball again. After Time Frame of intense physical therapy, of doubts in himself, of questions whether it was all worth it, he finally picked up the basketball again. And now he’s one of Team’s most valuable assets. His parents are there at every game, watching his every second. His Father laid off from Job, his mother working overtime as an Occupation and an Occupation to send Walkon to Basketball Camp. To Walkon, it’s more than just a game. It’s the reward for a lifelong struggle.
On Saturday, Famous Coach will face Famous Coach for the first time since Last Time. The two have known each other for years, once being Relationship and now each leading his own team to the fight for the NCAA trophy. They’ll be on opposite ends of the court on Saturday, but make no mistake that surely they’ll be looking at one another with Emotion. For forty intense minutes, Emotion won’t matter. There are bigger things at stake.
As Fan Favorite told reporters on Thursday, “We have to do this for State. And University. And Famous Coach, who believed in all of us.”
And we all know what that means. Because this is the Final Four.
Pithy Closing Line.