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Duke in the NCAA Tournament: A fan's bracing himself for the inevitable landing

March 21, 2015

Aisander Duda wrote this. He’s been here many times before. Somehow someway this post is about the mixed feelings of optimism and pessimism that surface at the start of any NCAA Tournament run:

"So, let me get this straight. You're saying we're not losing to Robert Morris? That I can just 'chill' for the next couple of hours while the illusion of a basketball game takes place? One more thing, are these wings real or not?" 

On Sunday evening, Icarus awoke. He first tried moving his arms and then his legs, but his whole body felt stiff and unable to easily rise from the surface of his bed. His head ached terribly, and his eyes were blurry and unfocused. As he regained some sense of the past 48 hours, it dawned on him why it was so difficult to move. 


He was covered in a thick layer of hardened wax.  

Somehow, after gliding to the highest of heights, Icarus had fallen tragically and somewhat unexpectedly under the glare of the ACC tournament heat. 

"That's right," he concentrated, thinking back.  He had been playing Notre Dame.  Surely his wings crafted of Historic Freshman Seasons and Just Enough Upperclassmen would easily withstand this heat and pressure. And yet.... he fell. He fell miserably. 

The day before had been the absolute highest.  A total drubbing of NC State.  Offensive basketball perfection in the first half. Sailing to never-before-seen altitudes.  And on the distant horizon, a glimpse of Indianapolis. 

But then the fall. As Icarus looked towards the corner of his room, he noticed something.  He cracked the wax film holding him to his bed and rose, striding towards the closet door. Upon opening the door, Icarus saw them.  A new set of wings, emblazoned with "#1 Seed", lay on the ground, practically begging to be used. 

Immediately, Icarus's mind raced. The sight of these new wings flung him back to faraway places and faraway times, when he felt he had the wings he needed to soar his highest.  And yet... there was Mercer.  There was Lehigh.  There was VCU, Arizona, Providence. 

All inglorious falls from epic heights resulting in painful questions about his abilities.  He looked back towards his newest pair of wings.  They looked really strong. Their centerpiece an Okaforian backbone, their brightest, lightest, and sturdiest feathers, Jones and Cook, on each wing. A smattering of other feathers looked equally promising, and showed immediate strength upon examination. 

And the new wax. Really it was old, tested, well-worn wax. Almost glue-like at this point, it had been molded and scorched in the streets of Chicago, in the barracks of West Point, and over 25 years in Durham. It looked solid, infallible. 

The whole thing, when taken together, seemed perfect.  And yet, Icarus had the bruises to prove that in the March heat, even the smallest of chinks or the most minor of weaknesses were enough to send him plummeting from the sky. 

When he stepped out again, adorning his new wings, he hope - nay, prayed - that these wings, devised from Freshman Talent, Tyus Heat Check, Okafor Smoothness, Cook Veterenship, and K Craftiness, would be enough to see him to the end of the horizon.  That end where all was right, the victors live in the annals of history, and Luther Vandross sings sweetly. 

Glancing at his watch, Icarus stares intently towards the sun and quietly mouths, "Friday we begin the flight." Who knows when or how it will end? Safely on a beach? Or in the ocean’s tumultuous waves?


Aisander Duda tweets infrequently @AisanderDuda.

1 comments:

Bryan Harvey said...

You can let go now, Ice.

April 15, 2015 at 6:52 PM

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