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"I'm the Blue Devil mascot, but my suit is on the bus and I cannot find the bus," he told the officials at the pass gate.
"Uh-huh," the officials said. "We have heard this Blue Devil mascot story about the bus many times already tonight."
"No. Really. I am the mascot...."
He finally convinced the guards to let him in by describing in detail what the entry to the arena looked like. He worked his way to courtside and sat next to the cheerleaders in a sweat. Had the Blue Devils ever played without the Blue Devil? He went back to the parking lot five times before the game and during the first half. No bus. No mascot. For the second half of the most wondrous game his school ever played, a 79-77 upset of an unbeaten Goliath, he sat and cheered as a common student. He saw all the chances he would have had to chase that floppy UNLV shark mascot around the floor. He had bought green slime to squirt in the shark's open mouth. Nothing. Zilch. He could only cheer like everyone else.
"After the game we went out to find the bus," he said. "Of course, there it was. Waiting. The suit was ready to go. The driver had gone out to dinner. He hadn't known he was supposed to pick us up at the hotel."
During the next two days, there were more than a few jokes, more than a few suggestions that maybe the Blue Devil should not show up for the final on Monday night since the Blue Devils had done so well without him. Where were you, Evan? The kid had to tell his story again and again. He said the upset might have been easier with the Blue Devil. He was good luck. Really. He would not make the same mistake twice.
The suit was safe. He had returned to the hotel after the game and stayed awake until six in the morning, celebrating with everyone else. When he slept, there had been 10 kids from school sleeping on the floor of his room. He told them all to stay away from the suit, which he now kept in the corner.
"That suit isn't going anywhere without me," the Blue Devil said. "I'm not going anywhere without that suit."
Just to make sure, the repentant bus company sent a limousine on Monday night. Evan Berg and four senior cheerleaders rode to the Hoosier Dome in style, and Duke won its first NCAA basketball championship, and the mascot did not lose his head. That is a fact.