Achilles was said to be the greatest and quickest warrior the Greeks sent against the Trojans. He dominated and destroyed his opponents.
But almost no one remembers Achilles’ greatness. They only know him for his heel.
It’s likely the Memphis Tigers will be remembered the same way.
The Tigers won more games in one season of college basketball than any other team in history. Their quickness and sheer speed helped the Tigers obliterate foe after foe in the NCAA Tournament from lowly Texas-Arlington to mighty UCLA.
With only seconds left, Memphis looked like it was about to finish with the final moment of glory — the national title.
Then free throws proved their downfall. Just like Achilles’ heel.
Derrick Rose, the Tigers’ freshman phenom, could have wrapped up the University of Memphis’ first national championship with two made free throws with 10 seconds left. He only made one, and that allowed Kansas to hit a last-second three to send the game to overtime, where the Jayhawks eventually captured their first national title since 1988.
It’s very likely that few college basketball fans outside of Memphis, or the state of Tennessee, will remember this incredible Tiger team. After all, we’re only about the winners. Many don’t remember Achilles’ greatness, but everyone knows about Odysseus’s victorious plan with the Trojan Horse.
These Tigers were only seconds from doing what almost no one does. Time after time teams in every sport talk about being disrespected and vow to show everyone. Usually they don’t. Memphis, which college basketball pundits routinely said couldn’t go to the Final Four despite being a No. 1 seed, hammered foes en route to San Antonio.
Every year, new college basketball recruits are said to be good enough to lead their teams to national championships. They almost never do. But Rose was mere seconds from leading his school to a title as a freshman.
But just when all that seemed to be inevitable and the fairy tale would have a happy ending, the Tigers’ fatal flaw doomed them.
This Memphis team was a great college basketball team. It would be a shame if it was forgotten forever.
But perhaps there’s hope. The Tigers, after all, didn’t fall at Troy. They fell in San Antonio.
And we still remember the Alamo.