The Big Three-Oh: #5

Welcome to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the series. Back-to-back days of Lehigh Basketball and I think you all know where this is going…

I am going to say this right now. Austin Rivers got completely dummied in this game. I remember CJ McCollum shutting him but this highlight showing John Adams (#4 on Lehigh) gassing him just shows why the Clipper players got so pissed at Doc Rivers for trading for his son. Adams had a great Lehigh career and showed it off.

Lehigh Beat Duke. The dead horse Lehigh continues to beat eight years later but by far the greatest athletic acheievement in the modern era of Lehigh sports. The football team did win a D2 national title in the 70s before D1-AA was a thing but this, arguably, could still be a larger accomplishment. The basketball team my junior year was STACKED. CJ McCollum was poised to continue to pad his resume for the NBA and the national media recognized it early on. The Mountain Hawks were chosen for the 2k Coaches Vs Cancer tournament at the start of the season and played a few more games on national television before winning the Patriot League for the second time in three years. The preivous year in 2011, Lehigh fell to Bucknell due to some questionable calls and the 2012 Patriot League Championship at Bucknell was no different. None the less, Lehigh prevailed and a few days later, drew a 2-seeded Duke as a 15-seed.

I remember seeing CJ McCollum and Gabe Knutson after the selection show. My roommate yelled out to them, “beat Duke’s ass” and CJ replied, “oh we will. Don’t you worry.” Either right before that, I recieved texts from some high school friends asking who I’d be rooting for. I was a Duke fan from a young age through my junior year of high school. I visited Duke and it wasn’t for me. I didn’t instantly feel at home and it tainted my fandom for the school’s sports teams. I’ve referenced it in these posts, but by this point, I was a Lehigh superfan. So naturally, I replied, “are you kidding? Of course Lehigh” to my friends. I even included something about how CJ would be the best on the floor and boy, was I right. McCollum dropped 30 points and Lehigh pulled off the upset for the ages.

After the game, we all sprinted from our friend’s house halfway up the hill at Lehigh back down the mountain into campus where practically everyone was going nuts. Naturally, a “Fuck Lafayette” chant eventually broke out. I remember going onto East 4th Street by the giant parking lot near the Campus Square apartments and it was a see of people. I shotguned a beer with a cop! The night was complete bliss for all those involved and the next day was St Patrick’s Day. I only slept maybe five hours between those two nights.

Lehigh sadly fell to Xavier in the second round. The Musketiers took advantage of Lehigh’s smaller size but the legacy remains. Lehigh still beat Duke. Regardless of the fact that you can’t go a few months without some Lehigh corespondence reminding you of the game, the night itself remains one of the greatest nights of my life. It definitely deserves a high spot on the list.

Today’s Instagram Athlete

Pat the Bat. Pat Burrell comes in as the athlete for #5. I originally had Donovan MacNabb at #5 back in 2011 but Donovan has soured his relationship with the Eagles and the fans since then. Burrell was a key piece on those mid-2000s Phillies teams, including the 2008 squad. I was in attendance for his first game in Philly since leaving the Phillies in 2010. He was playing for the Giants and recieved a standing ovation. Burrell proceeded to hit a home run, prompting the crowd to ceremoniously boo him, at which Burrell smiled and waved. He understood us and wanted us to know that.

(cover photo via)

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