Clutching two tickets to the Final Four basketball tournament just two days before the action will begin in Dallas in 1986. Dad, Mom and Steve are going. Pack the bags, gas up the vehicle, attach the University of Louisville car flags. Friend in Dallas will loan us his apartment, stay with his girlfriend. Go, go, go.

Arrive a day later at Reunion Arena a few minutes before the first game, buy a third ticket for $20 from a guy near the entrance. Cards proceed to beat LSU in the semifinal. Buy another ticket from a disheartened LSU fan in the restroom. Three tickets again , we’re all in for the championship game.

Dad is separated from Mom and Junior during the game, closing his eyes a while during the final minute. Opening them, realizing U of L was going to beat Duke 72-69. The Cards do it, win their second national championship. Family takes a couple of victory laps, maybe more, through Reunion Arena, bump into UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian, and bribe a concessionaire for his 1986 NCAA branded apron.

We will drive back to Louisville same night. Stop at a Cracker Barrel to eat, exchange hugs with the Lady Birds as they are getting on their bus, turn the volume up on Queen’s “We Are The Champions” and hopefully ride on air all the way home.

A tire blows about 80 miles outside of Dallas in the middle of nowhere. It is pitch black. To get some light, have to burn the Dallas newspapers with all the NCAA coverage we are saving. Not a good decision. Texas is in the midst of a drought and there are reports of wild fires in numerous locations. But we have no choice. Fortunately, the burning newspapers don’t add to the crisis.

Have to use one of those “nubs” the automakers provide as spare tires, with warnings not to drive over 40 mph. Creeping through nowhere land in Arkansas in the wee hours of the morning looking for places that sell tires. At about 5 a.m. finally find an old garage with a used tire. Exhausted but still ecstatic.

Junior, 9, sleeping in the back seat through all the drama wakes up on the bridge leading into the home town of the Memphis Tigers. He’s sick, nauseous, has to throw up. The only container available is his brand new Easter basket half full of candy. He throws up, and throws up again, filling the basket the rest of the way.

He’s fine again in a few minutes, wanting to replace the Easter candy. Mom and dad are feeling good again, too. We have a good tire, we’re moving again, and we have just finished reading the stories of U of L’s second national championship in the Memphis newspapers.

Share this

By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

4 thoughts on “Winning In Dallas, Heaving In Memphis”
  1. Charlie, you’ve asked me if I’m ready for football.

    Well, I’m ready for football. I really am.

    Nothing could be worse than the total debacle that was Card football last year. My expectations have now been lowered to Cooperish levels.

    Football last year? I’ve already bitched and cried and drank enough bourbon about it. It’s time to laugh.

    I wrote this post last year soon after the 4th game of the year–the Syracuse debacle. It was roughly at that point also that Card linebacker Willie Williams was pulled over with a mouth full of marijuana evidence he was trying his best to to chew and swallow.

    Also, a few months earlier, Dirk Minnifield had suddenly emerged after 20 yrs to let us know that it was a joint he smoked the day THE DAY BEFORE that original Dream Game that caused him to miss that key layup late in the game and THAT cost UK the victor. Darn! (Naww, it couldn’t have been the Card shot blocking machine of a center, Charles Jones! )

    BTW, please note that only a major second half rally by the Cards in the Rutgers game kept me from correctly predicting the final W-L for the season….

  2. …laughing my head off!!!!!
    No one will ever be able to say that the Springer family doesn’t support their Cards. Loved that story

Comments are closed.