The court of history

Posted: February 29, 2008

IT WAS A game that will go down with the great ones.

1969: Villanova vs. La Salle, with two of the best ever, Kenny Durrett and Howard Porter. 1986: No. 20 Temple, comes from 20 points back in the second half to beat La Salle. 2008: La Salle goes 16-29 from the three-point line to beat NCAA-hopeful St. Joseph's. All these games were at the Palestra.

On Feb. 18, it was hot, sweaty and it smelled. It seemed that the sea of gold owned everything to the east and a wave of maroon occupied everything to the west. There were streamers. Chants. Roll-outs. There was tension and pressure that could buckle the knees of even the most confident players.

And then, an upset.

On Feb. 18, a small blip of history grew on the Big 5 radar. It is a history filled with momentous victories and breathtaking defeats. It has become a rare occurrence, when almost 8,000 people packed into the small gym to see two local schools play.

It wasn't a home game for St. Joe's, although the program would say otherwise. It wasn't the renting of the floor by the University of Pennsylvania, although the center circle carried the UPENN insignia.

It was a neutral court in front of heated fans. It was something new to many, but strikingly ancient. To those who remember the glory days of the Palestra, it was refreshing.

And if you were present on that warm Monday night, you understood that this was basketball in Philadelphia, and, quite frankly, it shouldn't be any other way.

It pains me that this used to be the norm, and has become the rare. That this generation of students have only a handful of games to understand the traditions.

The resources are there to recapture the glory and passion that once existed.

The unity, existing inside each of us as Philadelphians, can be reclaimed. We just need to see that Monday night as the future and not the past - and make it the standard.

Joseph Fedorowicz

La Salle, Class of '08

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