As Brittney Griner left Baylor's Ferrell Center floor to a standing ovation for the final time on Tuesday night, she was once again triumphant.
Her Lady Bears had defeated the Florida State Seminoles 85-47 in the same dominant fashion as always, with the team looking well on its way to a second consecutive national championship.
Griner, once again, had shined brightest in her biggest career moment. She had 33 points on 15-of-22 shooting, which included three separate dunks as she eviscerated the Seminoles inside. She had 22 rebounds, soaring over her smaller opponents who looked dwarf-like against her 6'8" frame. She also had four blocks, swatting away each shot with the nonchalance of a grizzly bear poaching a salmon in a running river.
She was, for lack of better term, Brittney Griner.
Though she still has at least one and as many as three games remaining in her collegiate career, there seemed to be some sense of closure when Griner walked off the floor. It was her final game in the place she had called home for the past four years, and while she will undoubtedly go on to WNBA success, Griner may never be as titular of a figure as she was on Tuesday.
It's the same with all senior college athletes. These fans in attendance had watched Griner grow over time from a uber-talented but sopping-behind-the-ears freshman all the way to slowly ascending to the Mount Rushmore of women's college hoops.
Griner was averaging 23.9 points, nine rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game, but those counting stats fail to capture her true effect. To call Griner the most dominant collegiate women's player alive is a disservice. She is a force so singular and special that a nation that usually reacts with indifference towards women's basketball was standing at attention.
While some would try to dismiss it, Griner's ability to dunk is important. It's a part of what separates her from her peers, both past and present. But along with the dunking is an almost Iversonian swagger, the righteous self-belief that she is the best player in the world and no one can stop her.
And, once again, Tuesday night proved that is true. Griner and the rest of her Baylor teammates gave Waco a show one last time.
While Baylor may not repeat as national champions, everyone at the Ferrell Center knew what they were witnessing. There were plenty of notable faces, including former President George W. Bush, in attendance who knew what these final 40 minutes meant.
Here's to hoping folks outside of Waco recognize and cherish the importance of Griner's next 40 minutes because they may be her last.
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