March 27, 1979

An hour and half, and 500 reporters later, Magic didn't feel like celebrating.

He bumped his way through a still-crowded locker room, sat down and began peeling the tape off his ankles.

"Nothing," he said was what he planned to do to celebrate. "I don't know . . . "

Then he switched on some soul music and began singing the words. A few seconds later, he was still singing, his notes coming out from the shower room above the splatter of drops.

Somebody shouted to him if he could answer some questions. "I'm done with questions," he returned.

"C'mon. Just a couple more."

"I'm tired right now," said Earvin Johnson, although his Michigan State team had won the national college basketball championship 90 minutes earlier. "I'm really just tired. I really can't enjoy it, it hasn't soaked in yet."

Teammate and fellow star Greg Kelser came in, still wearing the net around his neck that had been cut down following the game. "I haven't really realized that we're national champs," he said quietly. "It will happen later, and then I'll probably explode."

But for the moment, about all they wanted was to get some sleep.

And whether or not Magic and Kelser were going to celebrate had little effect on some of the other MSU players. At least right after the game, they had plans to paint the town. Green.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do," said center Ron Charles. "I'm just gonna have fun. This is a once in a lifetime thing."

Jay Vincent, the starting center who had seen limited time all through the regionals due to a bruised foot, got in 19 minutes Monday, coming off the bench when foul trouble hampered the Spartans. But sore feet are no excuse for not celebrating.

"I'm gonna party," said Vincent with conviction. "Just plain party. One and a half weeks, two weeks, I don't know. I'm just gonna go back and party."

Vincent said he didn't know his team had it won until the final 31 seconds remained, and Michigan State had an 11-point lead. "They just kept coming, and coming, and coming at us," he said, shaking his head. "I felt myself out there hobbling around, and wishing I could do more. But to win the national championship is super. I'm just gonna party."

As Vincent talked in the short, excited moments right after the game, the music was loud, and a lot of skin-slapping was going on. "We caged the Bird," shouted a team manager. "We fed him Bird seed." Another MSU official picked up a plaque. "NCAA champions," he said with grandeur. The cheering kept up.

"I'm kind of dazed," added guard Tery Donnelly, whose 15 points from the outside came at crucial times and broke the Indiana State drive to regain the lead. "I don't think it will hit me for a week or so.

"We're all just elated. This is just what every college basketball player wants."

And though MSU coach Jud Heathcote has said all year there were no great teams in college ball, just a lot of very good ones, assistant coach Bill Berry qualified that Saturday. "Well, Jud's been very honest," he said. "But when we play like we can, we are a great team."

Reserve guard Mike Longaker, who played for 30 seconds, described the feeling of being there. "I felt light-headed," he said. "When I got into the game, I felt hot in the face, and my stomach was churning. That's the way it was the whole time. Even when I knew we'd won it. I was churning inside. Then it was a short rush right up to my head. I lost touch with reality."

But as the night wore on, the reality of fatigue and pressure had begun to take their toll on Johnson and Kelser.

Magic was anxious to get out. "Let's go, man," he said to Kelser.

"I'm in a hurry, too," Kelser answered, "but I don't want you to go without me, OK?" they slapped hands.

Then the reporters started on Johnson again.

"I can't answer no more questions," he said in a tired voice. "OK. This is my last one tonight."