September 13, 2010 BY Aaron Kr.
It’s hard not to love stories of second chances and the fight for redemption, and the Gatorade Replay series takes that concept to the next level. The idea is to look back into recent history to find legendary high school games with controversial outcomes, and then replay the games to determine the winners once and for all. Sneaker News had the pleasure of being invited to attend the Chicago ‘Replay’ event held last Friday night at Saint Xavier University, where one of the most notorious incidents in Chicago high school basketball history would finally get a shot at closure.
Back in 2000, Chicago high schools, Bloom and Brother Rice, met in a fateful super-sectional showdown that came down to the wire and was eventually decided by a Bloom tip-in that may or may not have occurred after the buzzer, depending on who you ask. Now 10 years later, Gatorade has answered the prayers of everyone involved by giving the two teams a chance to suit back up for their schools to settle the dispute for good. This dream-come-true opportunity for the former players is something that can resonate with the athlete (or in many of our cases, former athlete) in all of us. After years of daydreaming of what could have or should have been, the chance to gear up for glory one more time is an incredible gift that most of us will never know, but for the 2000 Bloom and Brother Rice squads it was a reality on Friday night.
When you hear that the two teams are now 10 years older, you’re probably picturing a bunch of out-of-shape slobs playing the least entertaining game of basketball imaginable, but it couldn’t have been further from the truth. While there were definitely plenty of members of both squads who looked like it had been awhile since they ran the floor, there were also a number of players who went on to college ball, with a few from each team now playing professionally overseas. To further level the playing field, both teams were put through an 8 week program overseen by the Gatorade Training Council to help knock the rust off some of the “less conditioned” ballers.
To the players, fans and alumni of these two schools, a chance to replay this game was all that they could have asked for, but to spice things up even more, Gatorade brought in NBA superstars Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard to stand in as the honorary coaches of Bloom and Brother Rice respectively. Fittingly, the two squads repped for their coaches with the entire Bloom team sporting the Black/Dark Charcoal Air Jordan 2010 and most of Brother Rice outfitted with a team colorway of Howard’s adidas TS Supernatural Commander. Then as an added bonus, newly signed Chicago Bull, Carlos Boozer, came in to pull double-duty as the game’s commissioner.
Even with all that star power on hand, to the Chicago faithful in the building, this was all business. From the second the ball was tossed up for the tip-off, both the game and crowd maintained an electric intensity for nearly every second of this long dreamed-about grudge match. After 10 years of feeling so wronged, Brother Rice came out with something to prove, jumping out to an early 14 point lead. It was starting to look like the game might get away early, but Bloom started chipping away in the second quarter and eventually came back to take a marginal lead that they would hold onto going into the 4th quarter.
Once the final quarter got underway, the crowd that had been going absolutely ballistic so far had now stepped it up to a state of complete frenzy. For almost the entire fourth quarter, the two teams went back and forth trading big shot for big shot and everyone in attendance couldn’t help but to look ahead at the possibility of another epic final second climax. Unfortunately for the sake of drama, we had no such luck, as the out-for-redemption Brother Rice Crusaders, led by Sidney Holmes and Mark Telander, opened up a lead in the final minutes that they were able to hold onto until the final seconds ticked off the clock with minimal buzzer drama.
Orange-shirted Brother Rice fans swarmed the floor instantaneously, and the looks on the faces of the Crusaders players said it all. Ten years later or not, the elation of getting the win and exorcising one of history’s demons is something that most of us will never get to experience, at least on this kind of level. And don’t feel too bad about the long faces on the Bloom Blazing Trojans that left it all on the floor that night as well. To paraphrase Bloom’s star guard, Joe Chapman, “They won tonight, but we still won the one that mattered.”
Everybody wins and how often does that happen?