Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

March 22, 2014

Countdown to One Shining Moment

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is underway. That means people across this great nation will be glued to their television screens, work productivity will fall as contentious games stream online during the work-day and bros of all ages and genders will sing fight songs, wear jerseys and fervently argue the superiority of one college over another whether they actually attended that school of not.

But the real appeal isn’t in watching a bunch of 19-year-olds compete for a chance to make more money in the next year than most of us will make in our lifetimes (via NBA signing bonuses). The games serve a much greater purpose, as every win, loss, blocked shot and game-winning buzzer beater becomes fodder for the crown jewel of sports recaps: The “One Shining Moment” montage that closes the tournament every year.

For those who don’t know, “One Shining Moment” was written by David Barrett, who was inspired by watching Larry Bird play a game on TV at the Varsity Inn in East Lansing, Mich., in 1986. Over the years CBS has also broadcast remakes by Teddy Pendergrass (1994 through 1999) and Luther Vandross (2003 through 2009 and 2011 through the present). In 2010, they attempted to introduce a version by “Dream Girls” alum Jennifer Hudson, but fan outcry was immediate. In the modern age, the Luther Vandross version has become the only version that matters.

The song is a classic jam about inspiration, hard work and overcoming adversity. If you haven’t heard the song, it’s as inspiring as any song from the first four ‘Rocky’ movies combined with the epic-ness of “My Heart will go On,” the theme song from “Titanic.”

It’s not that I don’t love watching basketball, I do. It’s a wonderful game that anyone can play. You don’t have nine friends? You can play one-on-one, four-on-four ... the sky’s the limit (well, up to 10, as most basketball courts are not 100 yards long). You have bad knees? We can play horse. Feel like running around but don’t want to bother with those pesky teammates or “passing”? Play knockout. Don’t feel like doing anything athletic? Put a hop over your garbage can.

All of those options make for a sport that anyone can identify with. But in my 26 years of experience, I’ve found that whether you’ve just beat your brother in chess or your team just lost an inter-office kickball game, there’s nothing more universal than an image of triumphant victory — or crushing defeat — rendered in slow motion.

But “One Shining Moment” is greater than all of those things because it takes basketball and strips away the bells, whistles and advertising deals in favor of real-life glimpses of the hope and optimism that drive the human spirit and the loss and difficulties that characterize the human experience. “One Shining Moment” is the soundtrack to all of our lives and all the lives that will come. And whether it’s 1986, 2014 or 2227, everything is more amazing in slow motion.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. He can be contacted at vincedavis06@gmail.com.