From the just-launched Grantland (Bill Simmons’ new thing w/ ESPN), Chuck Klosterman writes about the greatest sporting event he’s ever witnessed: a 1988 junior college basketball game in North Dakota. Why that game? Because one team, the underdog, started the game with only five players, finished with three players, and won.
The Tribe had opened the season with a full 12-man roster, but people kept quitting or getting hurt or losing their eligibility. By tournament time, they were down to five. It was bizarre to watch them take the court before tip-off — they didn’t have enough bodies for a layup line. They just casually shot around for 20 minutes.
“It was always so goofy to play those guys,” says Keith Braunberger, the Lumberjacks’ point guard in 1987-88. Today, Braunberger owns a Honda dealership in Minot, N.D. “I don’t want to diss them, but — at the time — they were kind of a joke. They would just run and shoot. That was the whole offense. I remember they had one guy who would pull up from half-court if you didn’t pick him up immediately.”