After that, Coach K went across the court to the radio booth, where Kentucky broadcasting legend Cawood Ledford was calling his last game, then picking up a headset and telling the heartbroken Wildcat faithful just how great their beloved team’s effort was.
Perhaps that’s not the thing that gets replayed over and over and over, but it’s the best part of the story. When you know you’re involved in something special, simply acknowledge it, and appreciate the other side. That’s what Coach K did.
That was just as true during the 1975 World Series. Even in the middle of the epochal Game 6 between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, Pete Rose was telling others that it was the greatest game he had ever played in.
Rose stuck to that story even after Carlton Fisk waved his 12th-inning home run off the pole to force Game 7. Of course, it helped that Cincinnati won the next night, but still, Rose had an awareness of what was happening and knew that it transcended the game.
So did Jack Nicklaus after battling Tom Watson at Turnberry in the 1977 Open Championship. When it was done, when Jack had shot 65-66 in the last two rounds and still lost to Watson by one shot, he went up to Watson and said that he gave his best shot and it wasn’t good enough.
And he smiled and congratulated Watson, just as he did five years later at Pebble Beach when Watson’s stunning chip-in at the 71st hole denied Nicklaus a record fifth U.S. Open title. He said, “You son-of-a-gun (perhaps I cleaned that up a bit), you did it to me again.” And again he smiled.
Much more recently, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs engaged in a seven-game classic to decide the NBA championship, not decided until the final minute of the final game, when the great Tim Duncan missed a short chance to put his team in front.