Vai's View: Vai's View: Watching March Madness history from the nosebleed section
What struck me as we arrived was the sea of blue throughout the entire arena, as both teams' colors were identical. We had Blue Devils and Wildcats fans seated all around us. No one knew me, but McMahon was still a national figure, even if he was the backup to Randall Cunningham, so as fans in our section started to recognize him in the first half, they started chanting, "Jim Mac-Mahon!" over and over.
Jim played along and waved. At one point in the second half, the beer vendor came down our aisle and McMahon bought his entire inventory and handed them out to everyone in our row. Of course, they happily chanted, "Jim Mac-Mahon!"
From the opening tip, the precision, mastery and strategy of the game was unbelievable, but it was really the last 10 minutes of play that ratcheted up the drama. Kentucky star Jamal Mashburn was phenomenal but Duke's Christian Laettner, who would be the hero, was simply unconscious from the field, and when he stepped on the chest of Kentucky forward Aminu Timberlake, who lay prone on the floor after the two collided, a wave of boos from the crowd erupted and it got louder when fans realized Laettner was only given a technical and not ejected. The Wildcats had chased Duke's lead of 12 down to 5 at that point and Laettner's lapse in judgment seemed to energize Kentucky as the Wildcats came storming back to tie it 93-all at the end of regulation to go to overtime.
The greatest throw I had ever seen was McMahon's pass to Clay Brown at the 1980 Holiday Bowl with three seconds to play. The second greatest throw was Grant Hill's 70-foot bomb to Christian Laettner with 2.1 seconds in OT.
Laettner caught it, dribbled once, turned and fired.
Then, I was doused with the round of beers that McMahon had just bought.
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