March Madness is all about traditions, and here’s one of the newer ones: the 31-year-old co-host of the American University Hoops Podcast going out to random playgrounds across the Midwest and re-creating some of the most famous shots in NCAA tournament history on broken-down rims while dressed in benchwarmer chic.
You might remember Samuel Healy — the Virginia Tech grad and former D.C. resident — who went viral around this time a year ago after pretending to be T.J. Sorrentine, Bryce Drew, Ali Farokhmanesh, Christian Laettner and Drew Nicholas, while running around in the rain on a Chicago playground. Since then, the advertising employee moved back to the D.C. area, did some work with the NFL Players Association, moved to Detroit for an ad-writing gig in sports (that he landed in part thanks to last year’s viral video), and decided there were plenty of magical March moments that had been left out of his original jaunt, including a couple from last year’s title game.
Of course, being newly arrived in a new city, Healy “can count the number of friends I have in Detroit on one hand (even if you cut three of my fingers off),” he noted. So that necessitated a trip to a Detroit playground with a non-basketball-loving co-worker, who filmed Healy running around by himself for about an hour, without recognizing any of the shots he was attempting to re-create. Said co-worker promptly fell grievously ill, and missed the next day of work. Art’s contributors don’t always know their genius until much later.
“I would have liked to do it in the snow to match with the randomness of last year’s rain, but it hasn’t snowed in Detroit for about a month. Maybe next year,” Healy noted in the director’s notes. “There were also a few neighborhood kids on the court. You can see them in that U-Conn/Cinci shot celebration. They were making fun of me the whole time.”
This year’s video includes tributes to Jalen Adams from the above-mentioned AAC conference tournament game (creative license), Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson, Princeton’s upset of UCLA, Marcus Paige and Kris Jenkins from last season … AND A SPECIAL SURPRISE ENDING THAT MUST BE SEEN TO BE BELIEVED.
Healy plans on doing this every year, with any luck in a different city and with different weather. So get ready to relive the next three weeks a year from now, starring a delirious-if-closer-to-middle-age dude in a headband on a random court in Topeka.
“I think anybody that’s a basketball fan, no matter how old you are, you go out and mimic those shots you remember as a kid,” he told me last year. “As you get older, you’re supposed to become more serious. But even in my 30s, when I’m shooting around, I just picture this stuff: the calls, the shots, the reactions.”
(As always, if you’re interested in a very intense and yet lighthearted podcast about AU basketball and the Patriot League, here’s the link.)