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March Madness

April 1, 2012 | By Lance Pugmire
The 30th anniversary of one of college basketball's landmark games has arrived. Three years after Magic Johnson beat Larry Bird, and a year before North Carolina State shocked Houston, North Carolina in 1982 edged Georgetown, 63-62, in a riveting championship game. It was Michael Jordan's first of many clutch performances, Coach Dean Smith's first title. And James Worthy capped a most-outstanding-player tournament by scoring 28 points and gladly accepting a game-clinching mistaken pass by Georgetown's Fred Brown in the final seconds.
March 25, 2007 | Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press
The thing I like best about the NCAA tournament is that it's a pure sporting spectacle, or at least as pure as you can get when coaches are making millions and players get nothing but meal money and a free pass to class. Look past the NCAA's blatant hypocrisy, though, and there's a lot to appreciate about an event that packs so much triumph, failure, pageantry and sheer emotion into such a short period of time.
March 20, 2014 | Nathan Fenno
When Henry V. Porter died in 1975, funeral notices mentioned his induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as one of the game's pioneers. Back in the day, Porter had pushed to adopt a ball without laces to make it substantially easier to dribble. And those fan-shaped backboards that are common on schoolyards and playgrounds? Porter designed them. The obituaries also mentioned that he led the band and orchestra at Athens High in central Illinois, and that for decades he worked as an executive for state high school athletic associations.
March 14, 2007 | Molly Selvin, Times Staff Writer
Brooke Pfautz knows that sales at his mortgage banking firm will probably plunge during the NCAA basketball tournament that begins Thursday. But for the second year in a row, he plans to show the March Madness games on the office big-screen TVs and give a prize to the employee who picks the winning team. "I want to have a good, fun, upbeat atmosphere," he said from his office in Hunt Valley, Md. "You spend more of your waking hours at work, so you might as well enjoy it."
Bob McDonough paid a pile for his luxury suite at Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, but he doesn't want to sit there today when his Georgetown University Hoyas play the University of Maryland. Instead, the 78-year-old Orange County businessman will head to the student section and find someone who will switch seats. Go upstairs and eat the food and drink the booze, he'll say. It's on me.
Michigan State went crazy over the weekend when the Spartans played in a Final Four basketball match for the first time since Magic Johnson led them to a championship in 1979. Sure, they didn't win. But making the Final Four has become an honor onto itself. March Madness hasn't been confined to the streets of East Lansing; it's spread to the admissions office too.
The Orangemen of Syracuse never had a chance, figures Stacy Nixon of Santa Ana. For the past four years, ever since she torpedoed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, Nixon has been sure that she could jinx a team merely by cheering for it. "Syracuse lost because I was rooting for them," said Nixon, who actually wanted Missouri to win and even borrowed a Syracuse T-shirt for Thursday's NCAA basketball tournament game to strengthen the hex. "It's kind of a reverse psychology."
April 4, 2009 | David Wharton
Not everyone in this city cares about college basketball, certainly not the guy standing outside a downtown office building with a ladder. A cold wind rattles down the avenue as Joe Gwisdalla and the rest of the maintenance crew hurry to replace a row of exterior lights above the sidewalk. "We're just doing what we're told," he says.
March 19, 2013 | Bill Plaschke
I know the look. For the last three decades, every year at this time, I get the look. A friend or family member will slowly approach with a piece of wrinkled paper, a chewed-off pencil and a wistful stare. It's always someone who doesn't follow sports. It's often someone who doesn't know whether a basketball is inflated or stuffed. I know the look. I call it Bracket Eyes. "Hey, can you help me with my pool?" It is a question about the NCAA basketball tournament, otherwise known as This Country's Biggest Sports Event for People Who Don't Like Sports.
June 13, 2010 | By David Wharton
In the days after John Wooden decided to leave basketball, walking away at the pinnacle of his career, he spoke of no big plans for the future. UCLA had just won the 1975 national championship, the latest in a string of titles, and Wooden vowed never to coach again. "I'd like to continue my daily, five-mile walk," he said. "So I'm going to ask my boss if I can have a locker." Beyond that, Wooden suggested he might attend a few basketball camps in the summer. Nothing more.
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