On Monday evening, March 30, 1987, I found myself with my mother attempting to shop for a 13 inch color TV in a very desolate corner of the now defunct K-Mart store located along the shadows of one of the busiest expressways in the United States, the Borman Expressway located a few blocks away from my grandparent’s house.
During that night’s CBS telecast of Indiana playing Syracuse for that year’s national championship, a small promo came up during the game teasing a new song would be shown at the end of the game.
I basically bluffed it off while asking a sales associate about the technical specifications of a Zenith TV located in a row of six lined sets going in a horizontal column, as images from the game flashed from left to right. While part of my mind was focused on the next day’s English grammar lesson, most of my mind mostly stayed focused on the Louisiana Superdome game clock, which was located in the lower right corner. Neither team gave into the other, even though one of Indiana’s great high school hoops stars, New Castle’s own Steve Alford (now the coach at UCLA) drained six three pointers to keep Bobby Knight’s team from suffering more nervous breakdowns.
Once I finally arrived home over six miles away near the shores of Lake Michigan, my eyes lit up like a bowling ball once longtime former CBS announcer Brent Musburger said, “Smart takes the shot.” Longtime partner Billy Packer then exclaimed, “Nobody stopped the clock” as the then-Orangemen players watched helplessly as the clock ticked from :05 down to :01 (it would be three more years before the tenth of a second was added in all timed sports).
Shortly after Syracuse called time out, it was only fitting that it would be Smart that would intercept the final full court heave and Indiana would have its’ fifth (and last to date) national championship.
Initially, CBS wanted to air the song following the Gatorade bath given to New York Giants Head Coach Bill Parcells after their 39-20 drubbing of John Elway and the upstart Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI a little over two months earlier.
Instead on the same night that ABC aired the 59th Annual Academy Awards, this rather sappy yet corny song penned by David Barrett after watching Larry Bird play in a Michigan hotel restaurant and bar came to him. And yes, there were no references about the opening line having the word “kicked” instead of “tipped” as Wikipedia correctly pointed out.
The song deals with hard work, inspiration, and sometimes adversity. Later versions would be done by Teddy Pendergrass, the late great Luther Vandross, and the first ever version to air on cable via TBS in 2016 was done by rapper Ne-Yo. In 2010, many viewers including this blog reporter were very angry when Jennifer Hudson’s version did not show us a lot of the key plays–but instead showing her in the recording studio.
For this day, the 30th anniversary of the initial airing–here is the original version (that in later years would be playing in the stadium’s big screen) starting with the brief musical interlude just as Keith Smart, Dean Garrett, Rick Calloway, Steve Alford, and friends were cutting down the nets moments following Indiana’s hard fought 74-73 victory over the Sherman Douglas led Syracuse Orangemen:
Who will it be doing it in 2017? Check your favorite online links to find out when CBS brings back the tradition again this coming Monday night.