As most of you recall, the 2008 SEC Men's Basketball Tournament, held in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, nearly became a colossal tragedy when a tornado struck the heart of the city with winds estimated of at least 135 MPH just as people were supposed to be leaving the arena at the conclusion of the Alabama - Mississippi State matchup late that Friday night. Had Bama's Mykal Riley not sunk a 3-point shot at the buzzer - sending this particular game into overtime - thousands of fans would have literally walked right into hell as a rare urban tornado slammed the Georgia Dome. ESPNU is re-airing (originally broadcast this afternoon at 5:00) their latest entry of the SEC Storied series - Miracle 3.
The events leading up to and unfolding during the 4-day tournament, from both a meteorological, logistical and competitive standpoint were just incredible. From ESPN:
On March 14, 2008, Alabama found itself trailing Mississippi State 59-56 in the final seconds of the first quarterfinal game of the evening session. Crimson Tide guard Mykal Riley sank a last-second three-pointer as time expired, sendinginto overtime. That shot not only extended Alabama’s season for the moment, but it may have prevented thousands of fans from pouring into the city streets just as a tornado touched down outside the Georgia Dome a few minutes later.
Though no one in the Georgia Dome was injured, the building felt the effects of the twister. Enough damage was done to the Georgia Dome to not only delay the completion of the Alabama-Mississippi State game and eventually cause a postponement of the last quarterfinal game of the day, but also to force SEC officials to find a new home to finish the tournament on schedule. Ultimately the University of Georgia Bulldogs, who finished last in the regular season, managed to win three games in a 30-hour period to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.
In Miracle 3, director Rory Karpf explores how a stunning and potentially devastating weather event touched off a series of situations that tested all involved like never before.
The stars of this documentary are the Georgia Bulldogs, the SEC Tournament organizers and the Georgia Tech athletic administration who didn't hesitate to help when called upon. Our moment of glory, although brief, was unprecedented. I look back on this time with great pride, but also with great hope that Georgia Basketball can once again find it's place back into the Nation's consciousness. This documentary certainly puts us in a special place from an historical perspective and, at the minimum, gives our program some very nice publicity. (The Kentucky fan bitching about not getting to see the UK/UGA matchup in Tech's gym on that Saturday morning is what truly makes this film art.)
Think of this as an open thread. All comments most welcome. Were you there? What do you remember of that weekend? I had totally forgotten how thin we were as a team. Four games in 3 days with only 9 roster players. Amazing.
*Athens Standard Time