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 , weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 QueenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“We Are The ChampionsÃ¢â‚¬Â 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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“nubsÃ¢â‚¬Â 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. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re moving again, and we have just finished reading the stories of U of LÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second national championship in the Memphis newspapers.