Philadelphia has a special place locked up in college basketball history. The city has one of the most famous arenas in the game, The Palestra, known as the “Cathedral of College Basketball.” It has the famed Big Five – even though it isn’t much of a “conference” any more. And Philadelphia hosted one of the most famous moments in college basketball history, back in 1992.
Twenty years ago today, Duke beat Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in the East Regional Finals, a win that propelled the Blue Devils to the Final Four on a buzzer-beating, turn-around jumper by Christian Laettner that has come to be known simply as “The Shot.”
Casual and hardcore college basketball fans alike can recall exactly where they were on March 28, 1992, when Grant Hill heaved a desperation inbounds pass to Laettner, who completed the most celebrated play in college basketball history when he caught, turned and drained the game-winning shot in overtime in front of 17,878 screaming fans at the Spectrum.
It’s a play that defines the term March Madness.
It’s a play that has been re-run over and over again, on blacktops across the country, in promotions for the annual NCAA Tournament and in commercials for companies such as Vitamin Water – starring Laettner himself.
It’s a play that features household names in college basketball – not just Hill and Laettner but Bobby Hurley, Sean Woods and Jamal Mashburn.
It’s a play that put Duke University on the map as the team that everyone both loves…and loves to hate.
It’s a play that has become a focal point in the coaching careers of two legends –Mike Krzyzewski for Duke and Rick Pitino for Kentucky.
It’s a play that ranks as one of the most memorable on-field events in all of sports, not just college basketball, ranking up there with the Miracle on Ice, The Shot Heard ‘Round the World and Bill Buckner.
And it happened all here, in South Philadelphia.