I promised myself I wouldn’t resort to a top ten list to fill out my time at Temple University, but I’m about spent, and there’s nothing else ready to run in the sports section this week.
And after all, promises are broken every day. I remember promising myself I’d never end up at Temple. But that was senior year of high school, and now I know better.
The home of the Owls is my home. I’m a man now, a writer, a son, a brother , a lover. And I’m an Owl.
So another stupid promise gets broken. So what? The real promises, the ones you can’t bring yourself to speak of in your normal sarcastic tone of voice, they’re kept.
I’ll keep one of those real promises in a couple of weeks when I accept a hard-won diploma. Even the time that seemed like a waste was worth it, and I thank you all for it.
But for now, I need to fill my last section, so here are a few top-ten lists that I thought up in between studying for exams and writing final papers.
Top ten Temple men’s basketball games since I arrive here in Fall of 1998:
10-Duke I, 2000-Even though the Owls lost, this barnburner in the Grarden has to be a brush with greatness. The Owls played so well that Jason Williams and the eventual national champs needed everything they had.
9-Purdue, 1999-The Owls easily handled the Boilermakers to advance to their fourth Elite Eight under John Chaney.
8-St.Bonaventure, 2000-The runaway win gave the Owls their first Atlantic 10 crown in 10 years. Temple’s first-half explosion was beautiful.
7-Maryland, 2000-The Owls began their coming-out party with a tensely exciting home win over the Terps. By the end of the week, Temple was on the nation’s lips.
6-UMass III, 2001-A second straight A-10 title, and Temple really needed it this time. The Owls played tough, like a team that’s been there.
5-George Washington II, 2001-With three minutes left, it looked like the Owls were dead. But Lynn Greer started spinning miracles, starting Temple on a three-week ride to unexpected greatness.
4-Cincinnati, 1999-Temple beat the familiar Bearcats in Boston to reach the Sweet 16, overpowering one of the most physical teams in the country.
3-Florida, 2001-This win got the Owls to the Sweet Sixteen in spectacular fashion. Temple caught fire early, and never let the Gators in the game.
2-Cincinnati, 2000-This was the win that announced Temple to the nation, catapulting the Owls to the brink of a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. Temple baffled Player of the Year Kenyon Martin and the Bearcats on their home floor, as Pepe Sanchez played hurt.
1-Michigan State, 1998-The game that truly made the Apollo feel like home. I can still remember Sanchez falling backward after making the game-winning free throw and being swarmed by the student body. I lost my voice that day, riding my bike down the middle of Broad Street in the rain waving a cherry and white pom pom that still hangs in my apartment.
Top ten sports movies on everyone’s list:
10-Raging Bull-Jake LaMotta and his anger, in the ring and out.
9-Eight Men Out-Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis had no soul.
8-Filed of Dreams-“This game, this field, it’s a part of our past, Ray.”
7-the Natural-This would be higher but Hollywood changed Bernard Malamud’s ending.
6-Bull Durham-The best speech about baseball in any movie, despite Costner.
5-Brian’s Song-The only football movie that requires a box of Kleenex.
4-Pride of the Yankees-“Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
3-Caddyshack-“Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.”
2-Hoosiers-Jimmy Chitwood has a stroke as sweet at Lynn Greer’s.
1-Rocky-The best soundtrack and the best sports movie of all time. The last 20 minutes is about things that really do matter.
Top ten sports movies on hardly anyone’s list but mine:
10-The Bad News Bears-Walter Matthau and a young Tatum O’Neill are Little League coach and pitcher.
9-Rocky IV-Great for completely different reasons than the original.
8-The Sandlot-An unexpected baseball gem. No stars, just simpler times.
7-Diggsotwn-Another boxing movie. Louis Gossett, Jr. is at his very best.
6-Breaking Away-Working-class “Cutters” versus frat boys in a bike race. Guess who I’m rooting for.
5-Searching for Bobby Fischer-Absolutely the best chess movie ever made.
4-Chariots of Fire-Could be on the other list. Eric Liddell’s running style is inspiringly primal.
3-On the Edge-“When the goddamn bureaucrats tell you it’s illegal to do something, then it’s worth doin’.”
2-Hoop Dreams-I’ll never look at high school basketball coaches in the same way.
1-The Hustler-The greatest male lead ever, Paul Newman, engages in an internal war over the green felt of a pool table. With the exception of Cool Hand Luke, it’s his best performance.