March Madness always brings us the good stuff. A few years ago it was Sister Jean, the nun cheering on Loyola of Chicago to the Final Four. Now it’s a guy who looks straight out of the movie “West Side Story,” Doug Edert, capturing the imagination of Americans everywhere.
Two weeks ago, no one knew who Edert was. Now he’s a household name. The guy with the goofy and irresistible stash and unkempt flying around hair looks like he could have been one of those street thugs in the alley fights in New York’s bad neighborhood as one of the Sharks battling the Jets.
Friday night he stuck the knife into Purdue’s chances at a Final Four, making 7 of 8 free throws including the final two that clinched the Sweet 16 victory, 67-64.
Specific types of basketball players get full scholarships to Division 1 blue blood colleges. They’re usually quick and can jump high and are in the 6 foot 5 to 6 foot 10 range. Edert didn’t fit that profile, but he does something more important than having the raw athletic ability and the ideal size at this time of year during March Madness when games are so often close at the end. He makes free throws with much more frequency than the vast majority of those bigger and more athletic blue bloods.
This season he’s hit 88 percent (84 out of 95) which means if tomorrow’s Elite Eight game is close down the stretch, he’s going to be on the court and likely will get free throws of monumental importance – as he did against Purdue. And he’s pretty much a lock to stick them.
This sudden fame of this West Side Story street gang-looking cool dude goes beyond just his Jersey/New York rough-and-tumble appearance. He’s already scored a Name Image and Likeness endorsement deal with Buffalo Wild Wings. Commercial America has bought the street-tough look – with a stache that won’t quit dazzling us and making us curious about him.
It gets better. Guys who shoot 88 percent from the foul line don’t get there by accident. No doubt Edert has spent thousands of hours practicing that free throw by himself alone in St. Peter’s “Run Baby Run Arena,” imagining himself taking free throws in the Sweet 16 with the game tight and less than two minutes to play.
He practiced. I respect guys who practice their craft alone and tirelessly more than those born with great athletic talent who rely on that to get the big scholarship but don’t put in the hours practicing free throws.
Everything about Doug Edert right now captures the spirit of American idealism. Work hard, don’t back down, and quit when the blue blood organizations don’t give you a chance. Just get better and it will all work out one day.
Or one night. Friday night. During March Madness.
I like to think about America falling in love with Edert right now the way Tony and Maria did with each other during the balcony scene of “West Side Story.”
Groove to this tune and words Tony and Maria gushed in this other in this song “Tonight.” And associate that with Edney on the foul line last night, showing his sporty stache to millions of Americans, knifing through the pressure to make the foul shots that he and we will never forget.
Tonight – The Song
Tonight – The Lyrics
It all began tonight,
I saw you and the world went away.
There’s only you tonight,
What you are, what you do, what you say.
Today, all day I had the feeling
A miracle would happen.
I know now I was right.
For here you are,
And what was just a world is a star.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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