My greatest Gonzaga Basketball memory didn't take place at the McCarthey Athletic Center. It wasn't from a game in the Martin Centre. It didn't even happen on a basketball court.
With time winding down on a late night in the Catherine/Monica dorm room, Gonzaga freshman John Brian Condon attempted a last-second, desperation dunk on a Nerf hoop hooked to a plate glass window. Refusing to dish off to teammates Jacob Andrew or David Ramirez, Brian jumped the length of the carpet, and threw down a vicious slam that threw the house down.
I don't know if the scoresheet officially says whether the dunk was good, but as Brian brought the hammer down, he crashed through the window, shattering the glass into large chunks. How he escaped unscathed was a Jesuit miracle: The thick vinyl shades protected him from being sliced into ribbons.
I didn't even see it. I walked in after it all went down.
"Man guys, it's cold in here ... WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED??"
But Brian was OK, David, Jacob and I were doubled over in shock and laughter, and it was one of the best moments of our friendship.
The Zags have had their memorable moments, from buzzer-beaters to Sweet 16s to mop-topped superstars, and a #1 ranking. I’ve sat courtside to see them play memorable postseason games in Las Vegas, Portland and Memphis. They’ve also had their share of heartbreakers, from disappointing losses to questionable decisions to screaming, heartbreaking calls by Gus Johnson. To me, though, what’s been more important has been experiencing them all with my friends.
We watched our first live Zags game together. Saw buzzer beaters and dominant performances. We sat in shock in a dorm room and saw Adam Morrison break down in tears, our first of many times experiencing Bulldog heartbreak. We got posters, debated the players, and criticized the coaching. We drove around the block twice to get a picture of 7-foot-5-inch Will Foster riding on a skateboard with a small child. And some of us broke windows trying to dunk.
No matter how exhilarating, how sad, how stupid, it always felt like we were a part of something. Bigger schools have football teams and larger populations. At Gonzaga, it felt like all we had was our little quartet and our Bulldog Basketball.
It always hurts to see the Zags come up short. This year is probably more frustrating than most. There’s not a lot to say to cover up the disappointment of watching a number 1 team go down early, in a year that looked like they would finally break through. You can scream, curse, and rant online, but that won’t take it away.
In 2006, it seemed like nothing would ever drown out Gus Johnson’s call of “heartbreak city.” Fast forward seven years, and the first thing that comes to mind about that year is John Brian nearly killing himself dunking through the window
So find your friends today and debate last night’s game. Go grab a beer and discuss next year’s recruiting class. Or just turn off ESPN and play a few games of Super Smash Bros. together. Believe me, years from now you’re going to care less about the outcome of some tournament game, and more about what you and your friends did after it. And hopefully, it will help you forget about it altogether.
Disappointment hurts. But it hurts a little less when you’ve got a good group to share it with.