Where has the time gone? It's been 30 years since MSU won the NCAA basketball title in 1979 in Salt Lake City. If you think there's basketball excitement around here now, you should have seen it then. The nights in Jenison Fieldhouse were something to behold. Sunday that team will be honored at halftime of the MSU vs. Wisconsin game. It's been a magical 30-year run for the most part since only equipment manager Ed Belloli has passed away from the official team family. Only two players will be missing this weekend, Greg Lloyd and Rob Gonzalez, neither of whom could make it back to East Lansing.
The team was coached by Jud Heathcote and he flew in from his home in Spokane, Washington. The team will assemble for a dinner given by super star Earvin "Magic" Johnson on Saturday night. There is a brunch before the game Sunday and then the team will assemble at Tom and Lupe Izzo's house Sunday night.
The 1979 MSU team went everywhere together and did most everything together. "Earvin never bigtimed us," guard Mike Brkovich recalls. "He treated every one the same." The '79 Spartans went to the movies together, ate together, etc. Not all of them played in the games-- Jud used essentially a seven man lineup in the tournament-- but they were all close nonetheless.
And to this day the '79 title game against Indiana State is still the most heavily viewed NCAA basketball final game ever televised. Hard to believe Earvin is 49 and will turn 50 in August, but the images we see 30 years later of them on the highlight reels never seem to fade from those of us who lived not only that season, but the terrific year in 1978 as well.