The NCAA Tournament “starts” tonight (insofar as the play-in games can be considered actual tournament games), but everyone knows the best part of March Madness comes at the end when CBS rolls out their One Shining Moment montage of tournament highlights. The producers take the best highlights from a tournament full of them and set them to the sound of the perfect, albeit totally cheesy, sports song. Personally, I can’t get enough of it. The One Shining Moment airing after the National Championship game is appointment viewing for me and before the tournament starts I will watch damn near every single one of them on YouTube to get hyped for the upcoming Madness.
And of all the Moments that have been immortalized since CBS started using the song in their broadcast nearly 30 years ago, the 2005 edition stands out above the rest. It was an incredible tournament (A necessity for any good One Shining Moment video) filled with unforgettable teams, players, and moments that were memorialized in a video worthy of that tournament’s greatness. Let’s get amped for March Madness by breaking down what I believe to be the best One Shining Moment in the tournament’s history:
0:07: As we take a look at this Illinois cutie, I want preface the rest of this article by saying I am a graduate of the University of Illinois and have been a Fighting Illini fan for as long as I can remember. The 2005 Illini are my favorite team of all time, and I will never forget that incredible season. Therefore, some of this analysis will be viewed through orange-and-blue tinted glasses. That’s just the nature of being a fan. Now, enjoy the rest of the cheerleaders, dancing mascots, and eclectic fans and let’s get into the meat of this thing.
0:24: ♫ The ball is tipped…♫
The sweet vocals of the late, great Luther Vandross kick off the basketball highlights. CBS has used four versions of this song since it was first aired in 1987 and Luther’s version is by far and away the best. He elevates this song from cheesy to soulful and gives it a completely different dynamic with his performance. The original version, sung by some skinny white dude named David Barrett, is the epitome of cheesy 1980’s pseudo-inspirational sports music and sounds incredibly dated now. Teddy Pendergrass couldn’t sound any less interested in signing his rendition of it. And the Jennifer Hudson version and accompanying video was a complete abortion and should be wiped from the viewing public’s memory Men in Black-style. So big ups for the use of Luther Vandross’ version in this one.
0:36: Always love seeing the look of total dejection and frustration on the faces of coaches in these videos. And who better to start that off with than Robert Montgomery Knight.
0:48: We have a celebrity fan section! We first see Nick Lachey getting amped for some Cincinnati Bearcat basketball. Talk about a blast from the past. I can’t think of an image that better captures the zeitgeist of the mid-2000s than Nick Lachey in a sleeveless jersey fist pumping after a big play. Next we see Ashley Judd, who as one member of Big Blue Nation pointed out to me, is more famous nowadays for being a Kentucky Wildcat fan than she is for being an actress. Finally we get the best cameo of all in BILL FUCKIN’ MURRAY cheering on the Illini.
0:58: On one hand, I love it when a 12 seed like University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee makes it to the Sweet 16, and you get to see the coach embrace his family after an accomplishment like that. On the other hand, their coach that year was Bruce Pearl, and he can eat shit.
1:08: I hate to sound like Mitch Albom here, but I love this clip of the Texas Tech player congratulating and shaking the hand of a Gonzaga player on the floor after a tough loss. To me, this kind of sportsmanship is what college, and really any level of sports, should be about. This should be shown as an example to all kids on how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.
This whole verse is such a downer, though. Nothing worse than seeing the aftermath of a completely heart-breaking loss and knowing your season, or in the case of seniors, your career, has come to an abrupt end.
1:22: We snap out of that depressing verse with the joy as the ecstasy that came with the two biggest upsets of the tournament: 13 seeded Vermont toppling Syracuse and 14 seeded Bucknell taking down Kansas. Games like those are what March is all about.
1:41: Normally for the “Feel the wind in your face” line they show a clip of a guy driving past someone off the dribble, but I like it better when they do what they did here and show someone get dunked on. Yeah, you definitely felt the wind in your face right there, and probably some of that dude’s nuts too.
1:49: I love the announcer call portion of the video. The best is when they’re able to sync the calls and plays up with certain notes of the guitar solo. Gus Johnson used to be the best for this, and this is further evidence he needs to be announcing these games again.
2:02: I will be as brief as possible about this clip because I could go on forever about it. The Illini were down 15 with four minutes to go in the Elite Eight game against Arizona and they stormed back to tie it in regulation on this three from Deron Williams. Illinois would then go on to win in overtime. This was, I believe, the best game in NCAA Tournament history, and I will not hear any argument to the contrary.
2:05: This is the perfect March Madness highlight. Kentucky player Patrick Sparks threw up an absolute prayer with time expiring in regulation to tie the game against Michigan State in the Elite Eight and it went in after taking every possible bounce around the rim. That had to have been an unbelievably nerve-wracking viewing experience for Kentucky players and fans. MSU ended up winning in overtime, but that buzzer-beater is still legendary.
2:20: KEY CHANGE! It’s a scientific fact that songs with a key change in the final chorus are exponentially better than their contemporaries that don’t. It’s also the perfect transition for taking us into the Final Four highlights.
2:41: National Championship Game. Illinois vs UNC. Look at all the orange in the crowd. There was definitely a partisan Illini crowd in St. Louis for that game since it’s a short drive from the campus in Champaign. It was time for the team of destiny to close it out. But…
2:45: Damn it. Fuck Sean May.
2:46: Not good.
2:50: Oh God, make it stop.
2:53: And with that, those dirty, class-skipping cheaters at UNC were crowned national champions. The game was actually close at the end– Illinois came back from down 15 in the second half and had the score tied at 70 with less than two minutes to play– but in the end,
the refs successfully worked to screw the Illini over so Roy Williams could get his first title the Illini just ran out of gas.
Even though I wasn’t thrilled with the final outcome, 2005 was still a great tournament and hopefully we get another one this year. Enjoy the madness, everyone..