|Never let them see you sweat||03.27.09 at 4:54 pm ET|
So, you thought all stories about gross, sweaty basketball arenas were reserved for a certain former basketball venue on Causeway Street in the mid-80s when the Los Angeles Lakers came to town for the NBA Finals? Think again.
The old Philadelphia Spectrum, now the Wachovia Spectrum, will be raised this spring but before that they had some significant ‘lasts’ in that old facility on Pattison and Broad in South Philly.
One of which occurred on Jan. 28 when Pittsburgh visited Villanova for the last college game ever to be played in the legendary building. The Spectrum, which also hosted the 1976 and 1981 NCAA Final Four won by Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers, was transformed into a sweatbox that night as the heat was cranked up, making the building feel like a sauna, circa the 1984-85 NBA Finals in Boston.
Villanova coach Jay Wright prides himself on his well-dressed manner on the sideline. On this night, that was a challenge as big as containing Pitt’s DeJuan Blair.
“I know they didn’t know anything about the Spectrum,” Wright said on Friday of his players’ appreciation of the Spectrum. “But in that second half when that place got going and it was so hot in there. I pride myself I don’t sweat too much. I was just sweating like crazy. And my friends were busting my chops bout going to my hanky all the time. I don’t ever remember being in a game like that. It was so hot and so loud.”
But as was the case in the 80s with Bird, Parish and McHale and Ainge and D.J., the home team had a little something to do with Villanova knocking off then-No. 3 Pittsburgh, 67-57.
“The second thing was, Shane Clark in the second half coming up with all those big offensive rebounds. Reggie Redding, big shots,” Wright added. “Corey Fisher, big shots. They really hadn’t done that before in Big East games. And that’s what kind of got us going is they knew Pitt were they No. 1 or No. 2, 3? But they knew they were a great team. And now they do it against a great team and they got confidence and we got confidence in them. That’s what I think really happened.
“I swear, that building had a lot to do with it. I really do think it does. Just the crowd, I mean,” Wright said.
Now, on Saturday night, he’s hoping the Nova fans in the Garden turn up the heat again on the Panthers.
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