The McKale Center Turns 40

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

It's birthday time at the McKale Center as that building off Campbell turned 40 this week. The occasion prompted Coach Miller to ask: What's your favorite McKale moment?

Tonight's ball game will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the McKale Center as Arizona's home court advantage. Think about the games that building has seen and the contests that arena will continue to host...incredible. My mother, brother, and father graduated in that building. The latter two twice (I attended UCSD because sometimes Coach Lopez just doesn't think you're good enough to play baseball there).

And I really just happened upon this double-score (+1 for the Lincoln reference) anniversary fact; noticing it throughout the week as Sean Miller tweeted pretty regularly about it. Anniversaries generally don't get me particularly caught up in hyperbole or milking the moment. I won't wax poetic across the next 900 words about the community center that McKale has become or maybe the rallying point by which Tucsonans might identify with this building.

No. It's not really a time for that as it's indeed an anniversary and not a demolition.

But one tweet did catch my eye. The following did get me to thinking about all those moments that have been witnessed inside that gym off Campbell:

Are you kidding me, Sean? One moment? I have to pick one between my first game, The Block, the PennellCats entering the stadium through the student section, Salim in Afflalo's eye, Khalid's 40 past Michigan, Jason Terry's senior day, beating #2 Stanford, walloping Kansas by 17, and countless others?

Not fair coach.

But maybe my favorite isn't a single moment? Maybe my favorite was just getting brought to the stadium with my aforementioned family to take in a game that I had little to no idea as to what exactly was transpiring except that it was loud and exciting and fast and without any context to the broader dialogue of college basketball I knew that I was seeing something special. I can still hear Jonathan Norris' voice from what felt like a speaker in the seat immediately behind me bellowing, "Matt MUUUUUUUUUUUEHLEBACH!" I loved Matt Muehelebach. And Matt Othick. And Ray Owes. And Baby Blair. And Khalid. And, well, really all of them.

And now I may have found my way into the hyperbolic sap I promised I wouldn't dive into but what I'm getting is, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps my favorite McKale moment was just ever getting to have one. To have my formidable mind choose the fandom of my father and get excited about this red and blue team running like bats out of hell up and down that cactus-ed floor.

Because when I do look back at those great moments, when the more than 14k are excused to become overwhelmed in the insanity of fandom, I was there with my brother; I was there with my dad; I was there with my best friends. I was not there with my mom because this stuff just never really stuck with her but we love her all the same.

These instances are special because it's shared jubilation, inexplicable joy for the success of a team that we love and who has played about 13 games a year inside of a now forty-year-old structure somebody named after a guy named Pop.

Whichever of the countless accomplishments you associate as your favorite, know that it was shared. You and everyone else off their seat or their couch, screaming at the arena floor or their car radio, was sharing that excitement.

What a moment.

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