" . . . and then they partied into the wee morning hours."
It was plain to see late Monday and early Tuesday in downtown Salt Lake City that fans were celebrating their team's respective successes in the NCAA Basketball Championships. Teams from the Final Four moved off to their appointed locations Monday following the finals to "tip the hat and toast the heroes."
The mood, as you would expect, was brightest at the Hotel Utah Motor Lodge, where Michigan State fans swarmed into the parking lot and buffet room, and a few private rooms, still attired in the green and white game garb and chanting, "We're number one."
When the team members arrived there was the expected autograph signings, congratulations, praises and promises "We'll be back in '80 with that same ol' Magic."
One roughly printed sign read: "the Magic left the Bird." It drew applause from all who passed by . . . waiters and bellboys excluded. Noted one MSU fan, Brad Weight: "If you think this is wild, you should see it back in East Lansing (Michigan). I'll bet the town in upside down."
East Lansing police did report that bars were much busier than normal and that several streets in the town had to be blocked off for parading fans. "This place is going wild, I can't believe it is happening," reported on police official. "Over at the Hotel Utah, where Indiana State fans were gathered, there were no signs, no cheers, just fans milling around and discussing the game play-by-play and, of course, the officiating. All that changed, though, when team members arrived. Even the elusive Larry Bird made an appearance; he quietly entered, shuttled off to the sideline and quietly accepted handshakes, picture and autograph requests . . . but not much else. Said his brother Mike: "Hey, as far as I'm concerned, the Bird's still number one . . . this team's number one. Come on, let's hear it for the Sycamores."
"We still love our Bird and we love our team. Nothing has changed," said ISU fan Darrell Ghee respectfully. "This crowd (about 400) is a little quiet, but what can you expect?"
Fewest fans turned out for the Pennsylvania party. The most respectful fans were gathered around coach Ray Meyer of DePaul.