In the 1952 NCAA championship game, St. John's strongman, Solly Walker, stuck a finger in the eye of Cumulus Clyde Lovellette, the massive 6'9" Kansas center who was in the process of scoring 33 points, establishing seven individual tournament records and offensively dominating a Final Four as no other player has ever done. As the enraged Lovellette came to the bench, he blurted to KU coach Phog Allen, "Dammit, Doc, I'm going to kill the——." Lovellette's mother, sitting nearby, stepped in and reminded Clyde as to how she'd raised him to be "a good Christian."
"O.K., Mom," Lovellette answered meekly. "I won't kill him, but I'm sure going to mark him up."
On the night of March 30, 1981, with the President of the U.S. lying wounded in a hospital bed, Indiana's Bob Knight, North Carolina's Dean Smith and tournament committeeman Dave Gavitt—America's last three Olympic coaches—huddled in a broom closet in the bowels of Philadelphia's Spectrum, awaiting word on whether the championship game would proceed. At one point the three men just stared at each other, whereupon Smith said, "Co-champions?"
The Siege of the King's Inn began tamely enough when several hundred Marquette fans arrived in Greensboro for the 1974 Final Four. Compared to Wisconsin winters, the weather in Carolina was moderate, which still didn't help the police understand why 25 lawn chairs, two chaise lounges, one soda machine and 14 forms of human life were found floating in the inn's swimming pool at different times. On three occasions Greensboro's tactical squadrons were called to the King's Inn, once in response to a complaint that Marquette coeds were roaming naked through the halls, carrying television sets.
This behavior ultimately ceased following negotiations with the motel's management, for which occasion a Marquette student committee purchased several more cases of beer. It was not exactly the Treaty of Ghent. The King's Inn representative, who, alas, found himself drinking one-on-seven, finally said, "Awwww, yew gahs are awwwwright," and went to sleep.
Later the Marquettes encountered a couple of ACC fans who had innocently wandered in upon the carnage. "We're glad you boys aren't in the league," one of the locals said. "Nobody down here'd be alive."
Basketball was five years young when Nat Holman was born on the Lower East Side of New York in 1896. One of 10 children of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Holman's first basketball was a sack stuffed with rags. Holman once estimated that in 53 years as player, coach and spectator, he had been involved in more than 7,000 games, the most notable of which were those played by his team at City College of New York in 1949-50. That team—C'mon, let's hear it: "Allagaroo, garoo, garah. Allagaroo, garoo, garah. Ee-yah, ee-yah, Sis, boom, bah!"—became the first, last and only one to win both the NIT and NCAA championships in the same season.
What were the effects of such an accomplishment? When CCNY crushed Kentucky in the NIT final by 39 points—weep some more, my ladies—the Cats' Rupp told his team, "Thanks, boys, you bring me up here and then you embarrass the hell out of me." A member of the Kentucky state legislature proposed that state flags fly at half-staff.
But that was nothing compared to the emotional distress suffered in Peoria. For, you see, with 15 seconds left in the NCAA final at Madison Square Garden and CCNY ahead 69-68, Bradley's Squeaky Melchiorre picked off a pass and drove the opposite way for the winning basket. By all accounts, what happened next wouldn't play in Iwo Jima, much less Peoria. Melchiorre's drive was cut off by the entire CCNY team, which converged upon poor Squeaky, smacked him around and knocked his shot "actually sideways," according to Pete Newell, who was there. "Squeaky was hammered so hard, the ball looked like a horrible golf shank. It was the most flagrant non-call of all time." CCNY intercepted the shank, sped the other way, scored again and had its coveted double, 71-68.
Weeks later, local theaters in Peoria still ran newsreels of the alleged assassination, the marquee of the downtown Madison reading: WAS SQUEAKY FOULED? YOU BE THE JUDGE.