Sit back, relax and enjoy

By Gus Bode

When the Japanese Empire was vanquished, did Americans sit around and contemplate the army’s projected strength in a future war?

When they finally had won their freedom, did ex-slaves worry about the years of oppression and racism that would certainly come?

Did Col. Robert Hogan worry if he, Richard Dawson, Carter, LeBeau and Kinch were making Stalag 13 conspicuous every time he blew up a bridge, assassinated a general or bribed Sgt. Schultz?


Of course not. They lived in the moment – they celebrated instead of contemplating the grim and horribly depressing future.

Freed slaves celebrated the release of their bondage. Americans poured into the streets and kissed total strangers. Hogan was quite fond of doing the same.

Times were good and they acted accordingly. I urge Saluki fans to do the same.

Saturday night, Kent Williams won the game dramatically by drawing a foul and scoring the winning lay-up, making Southwest Missouri State defenders look like a bunch of sportswriters.

The game was riveting. It was dramatic. It was more fun than watching people fight for parking spaces near the communications building.

By the time the Bears’ final attempt clanged off the rim I was on the ground in front of the TV. My muscles could not take the pressure.

But, while attempting to regain my motor skills, I heard a whisper – a slight murmur of discontent.


It was a Daily Egyptian sports writer asking one his colleagues, not me, whether the team was going to suck next year.

Next year? The greatest game of the season and the best SIU victory since the win over Georgia had just ended and he’s asking about next year?

An old Buddhist proverb, or maybe it was an old homeless guy in the Loop, tells the story of a man who fell off a cliff. Halfway to the ground, he grabbed a branch and hung on for dear life. The branch was far too small to hold his weight for more than a few seconds and he knew he was going to die.

But this was not an ordinary branch. Toward the end of the branch was a flower of magnificent beauty. It was so rare and illuminating, even the most embittered and macho alpha male could appreciate it.

But the man who was about to become a pancake was too worried with his inevitable death that he failed to notice the beauty around him and enjoy the final moments of his life. He died unhappy and stressed out.

Whoever made up that story was a genius and incredibly wise.

But for some reason, conventional wisdom is always absent in the sports world.

Every time a team wins a championship, the first thing mentioned is, “Can they do it again?”

Championships are rare, especially if you happen to live in post-Jordan Chicago. Magical seasons do not happen often either, and so far, it looks like SIU basketball is staring its second straight serendipitous campaign in the face.

Winning requires a little bit of luck, and the Salukis have been doused with it this season.

Recognize last week for what it was – two consecutive miracles. The Salukis would not have beaten Drake if the powers that be had not hexed the Bulldogs’ free-throw shooting ability. Kent Williams needed to rely on the dimwittedness of a fellow senior to earn the free throws that set-up two more miracles and a one-point victory.

Last month against Northern Iowa, today’s opponent, SIU required the help of what some in Iowa are now referring to as a phantom call to take the Panthers to overtime and eventually dispose of them.

Something special is happening in the cosmos directly above southern Illinois. Clearly, some higher power believes in the Salukis – for now.

Good luck may not, and most likely will not, come next season. So revel in the love of the basketball gods for the next month or so.

You can dwell on the unproven team that will take the court next season, or you can appreciate the rarity and beauty that is the 2003 basketball Salukis.

The branch is breaking, so take a look around. Next year’s face-plant into the canyon of average teams can wait.

Michael is a junior in journalism. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Egyptian.