Revisiting the Greatest Game Ever Played: The 1992 East Regional Finals
With the Final Four all set for next weekend and March Madness delivering its usual brand of excitement, my mind wandered back to what I (and many) consider the greatest college basketball game ever played—the 1992 East Regional Finals between the University of Kentucky Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils.
If you were lucky enough to see the game live, like I was, then it's one of those moments you'll remember and treasure forever.
At the time, I was a college student watching the game with a Duke fan in the basement of our house on a rented TV.
As soon as the game had finished, and the sting of defeat had ebbed, there was little doubt in my mind that I had just witnessed arguably the greatest game in basketball history.
Think back to March 28, 1992, Philadelphia, the see-saw affair between Duke and Kentucky at full pitch. Tensions were running high after Christian Laettner, easily the most hated Duke player ever, received a technical foul with eight minutes to play after stepping on UK's Aminu Timberlake.
Kentucky had tied the game at 93 with 33.6 seconds left on a Deron Feldhaus putback of a John Pelphrey miss. Duke's standout point guard Bobby Hurley had a chance to win it as time expired, but missed.
The teams went back and forth in OT, with UK finally pulling ahead 98-96. Then Laettner took over, scoring Duke's final six points, including two free-throws to put the Blue Devils ahead 102-101.
After a Kentucky time out with 7.8 seconds remaining, Sean Woods hit the second greatest shot of the day, a running one-hander in the lane over Laettner to put UK up 103-102 with 2.1 seconds to play.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Grant Hill lobbed the ball 70 feet to a waiting Laettner, who dribbled once, turned, and put up "the shot" as time expired, giving the Blue Devils a 104-103 victory.
Duke went on to take the title 71-51 over Steve Fisher's Michigan Wolverines, thus repeating as NCAA basketball champions (Duke defeated Kansas in 1991).
So now, 17 years later, whatever happened to the major players involved in the greatest game ever played?
After graduating UK, Feldhaus played overseas for five seasons. Eventually, he returned to his hometown of Maysville, Kentucky, where he is currently the manager of Kenton Station Golf course.
The University of Kentucky, in a touching gesture, retired Feldhaus' No. 12 jersey.
Pelphrey, undrafted after a great career at Kentucky, played in France before joining Eddie Sutton's coaching staff at Oklahoma State (Pelphrey had played under Sutton at UK).
Currently, Pelphrey is the head basketball coach at the University of Arkansas. Like Feldhaus, Pelphrey's No. 34 jersey was retired by Kentucky.
Upon graduating from the University of Kentucky, and gaining a place in Kentucky basketball lore with his one handed circus shot against Duke, Woods played for the Indiana Pacers.
After finishing his NBA career, Sean Woods became an assistant coach at Texas Christian University and is now the head basketball coach at Mississippi Valley State University.
Farmer received his Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky in 1992. His No. 32 was retired by the University of Kentucky.
Since 2003, Farmer has served as the state of Kentucky's Commissioner of Agriculture.
After finishing his much heralded career at Duke, Laettner was chosen third overall in the 1992 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While not the superstar he was in college, Laettner did end up having a fairly good 13-year career, playing for the Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Mavericks, Wizards, Warriors, and Heat.
Laettner currently is co-owner of Blue Devil Ventures with former Duke teammate Brian Davis.
Not surprisingly, his No. 32 jersey has been retired at Duke.
Hurley, the floor general of Duke's 1992 championship team, was the seventh overall pick of the Sacramento Kings in the 1993 NBA draft.
Unfortunately, he was involved in a devastating car accident in his rookie year, but did end up coming back for the 1994-95 season, playing for four more years.
These days, Hurley is big into thoroughbred horse racing, becoming an owner and breeder.
Hurley has also been a scout for the Philadelphia 76ers since 2003.
Grant Hill ended up having the finest NBA career of any member of the 1992 Duke team.
After being drafted third overall by the Detroit Pistons, Hill is currently a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Despite being hampered by numerous injuries over his career, Hill is a seven-time NBA All-Star, and was 1995 NBA co-rookie of the year.
Thomas Hill will always be remembered not so much for his playing career at Duke, but more for his expression of pure, exalted disbelief after Laettner hit "the shot".
Hands on his head, the look of unbelieving shock on his face will go down as one of the most memorable images in the history of the NCAA tournament.
Hill was chosen 39th overall by the Indiana Pacers but never played in the NBA.
As far as I could find, Hill is the owner of a computer company in Lancaster, Texas.
The coaches, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Rick Pitino of Kentucky are still both coaching in the NCAA.
Krzyzewski is in his 29th season at Duke, and is easily one of the top coaches in college basketball history.
Pitino, after a failed coaching attempt in the NBA, is the current head coach at Kentucky's state rivals, the University of Louisville.
However, Pitino is still revered by UK fans for returning the school's basketball program back to national prominence after the violations imposed on UK by the NCAA during Eddie Sutton's reign as head coach.
If you're one of the unfortunate college basketball fans who's never had the chance to watch this classic game in it's entirety, then by all means, find a copy, sit back, and enjoy a true hardwood classic.
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