A Mid-Life Reassessment of Financial Needs and Goals
Peach Basket Parables: Louisville vs. UCLA,
1980 NCAA Championship Game
Before the Houston Cougars brought us Phi Slama Jama, the Louisville Cardinals were the Doctors of Dunk. The 1979–1980 Louisville team was led by the high-flying Darrell Griffith, who went by the name of, what else? Dr. Dunkenstein.
Griffith was heavily recruited in high school by top basketball colleges all over the country, but he
chose to stay in his hometown of Louisville. At the time, he promised local fans that he would bring them an NCAA championship. It took him until his senior year, but the Doctor delivered.
In helping Louisville win its first national title, Griffith played a role in cementing the great basketball tradition that coach Denny Crum had started back in 1971. Louisville had been to the Final Four once prior to Crum’s arrival in 1959, but it was Crum who came along and built Louisville into a perennial powerhouse. In thirty seasons coaching the Cardinals, Crum amassed 675 victories at a winning percentage of nearly 70 percent, making him a beloved basketball icon in Kentucky and across the nation.
It might come as no surprise that Crum cut his teeth under the tutelage of another basketball legend, UCLA’s John Wooden. Crum played at UCLA his final two seasons in college and later served in assistant coaching roles under Wooden for another eight years. He was part of three championship teams with the Bruins.
By the time he was hired for the head job at Louisville in 1971, Crum was no stranger to the NCAA’s biggest stage. He proved it when, in his first season, he led the Cardinals to the Final Four. Which team knocked them out? UCLA, of course. The next time Louisville made it to the Final Four was in 1975. And again, the Cardinals bowed to the Wizard of Westwood and his unbeatable Bruins. It seemed Crum’s mentor was becoming his nemesis.
Third Time is the Charm
In that 1979–1980 season, when Crum’s Doctors of Dunk were leaping over every opponent in their path, Louisville got yet another shot at UCLA. This time, it was the Cardinals’ first trip to the NCAA Championship game. And this time, they were the favorites.
Number two seed Louisville was heading into the game with a 32-3 record and hoping to cap off its stellar season with the only trophy it had yet to win. UCLA, on the other hand, was no longer the monster it once was. The Bruins had been lucky to get an eighth seed in the tournament after a mediocre (for them) 22–10 season. Wooden had retired after his last win in 1975, and UCLA was now helmed by the journeyman Larry Brown.
The Bruins might have been the underdogs that year, but they did not play that way. They matched the Cardinals blow for blow in the first half, forcing poor shots and careless turnovers. UCLA surged to finish the half up by two points. It seemed the basketball gods had cast a cruel curse upon Crum, and he would never defeat his alma mater.
A Well-Timed Wake-Up Call
Crum, whose normally calm and collected demeanor earned him the nickname Cool Hand Luke, was anything but cool in the locker room. He chose the right moment to explode, berating his players like an angry drill sergeant and going so far as to call them chokers. Whether it was a shrewd psychological ploy or simply a case of overwhelming frustration, only Crum knows. But he later admitted that the halftime chew-out had been so uncharacteristic for him that he felt the need to apologize to his players. Nevertheless, the speech achieved the attitude adjustment Crum was looking for. The Cardinals woke up in the second half, playing with greater focus and urgency.
Still, UCLA gave Louisville all it could handle, and the Bruins led by four with four minutes to play. That’s when Louisville’s superior talent and conditioning finally won out. They scored the last nine points of the game, including an eighteen-footer from Griffith to reclaim the lead once and for all. Dr. Dunkenstein’s twenty-three points earned him the Most Outstanding Player award, and Crum finally shook the Bruins off his back.
- Louisville’s Doctors of Dunk are often credited with popularizing one of the most common celebrations in all of sports, the high-five.
- One of the Cardinals’ most frequent high-fivers was forward Wiley Brown. Ironically, Brown had only four fingers on his right hand as his thumb had been amputated at age four. He wore a prosthetic thumb developed by his doctors, but on the day of the championship game, the thumb went missing. Brown realized he had left it on the breakfast table at the hotel, and a team assistant was able to fish the thumb out of the garbage in time for the game.In 2013, Louisville overcame another player’s physical ailment en route to its third NCAA championship. Backup guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his leg during the Cardinals’ Elite Eight victory over Duke. While Ware watched from the sideline, his team played brilliantly in his honor to take down Wichita State and Michigan for the title as Coach Rick Pitino became the only NCAA coach to win championships with two different schools.
- In 2013, Louisville overcame another player’s physical ailment en route to its third NCAA championship. Backup guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his leg during the Cardinals’ Elite Eight victory over Duke. While Ware watched from the sideline, his team played brilliantly in his honor to take down Wichita State and Michigan for the title as Coach Rick Pitino became the only NCAA coach to win championships with two different schools.
Chapter-Ending Three Pointer
- Identify previous financial setbacks and/or potential roadblocks in your personal or job situation.
- Think about possible unexpected financial events that might help your family reach its goals.
- List current economic or financial conditions that are beneficial to attaining financial objectives.
© 2014 Chuck Thoele
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