First Place: "Michael Graham punched my player"
Some moments are big games that go back and forth and are decided in the final minute. Some are created when one player takes his team on a run through four or five consecutive wins. This moment, the best moment in Big East Tournament history and the catalyst for 30 years of basketball memories, is a quote.
Not just a quote, of course. Jim Boeheim's postgame rant following Syracuse's 82-71 overtime loss to Georgetown in the 1984 Big East Tournament finals described something that had quite literally happened in the game. When Boeheim said, "Michael Graham, in front of 19,000 people, punched my player, and the ref had the nerve to call it a two-shot foul," he meant it. And he was right.
With Syracuse up three late, Georgetown's Reggie Williams got off a couple attempts before Michael Graham tried a put-back of his own. Andre Hawkins pulled down a rebound for the Orangemen despite Graham's best efforts to pull the ball away. With Hawkins falling to the floor, Graham gave a frustrated left hook and was whistled for an intentional foul and ejected from the game.
After a brief huddle, referee Jodi Sylvester overruled Dick Paparo. Graham stayed in after two Syracuse free throws and Georgetown clawed its way back to tie the game. The Hoyas pulled away in overtime and Boeheim proclaimed "today, the best team didn't win," kicking over a chair on his way out of the press conference.
Syracuse and Georgetown would combine for eight of the first ten Big East Tournament titles. Including 1984, they faced off in the championship game four times in the decade. Those games set the tone for what the Big East would become, the toughest conference in the country with a championship decided in the World's Most Famous Arena.
Syracuse isn't around anymore. Neither is Connecticut, with its seven titles matching Georgetown for most in the Big East. Patrick Ewing and Ray Allen and AI and Gerry and Kemba are all gone too. But the conference still has its history and still has this tournament. Still at the Garden, this time on Fox Sports 1.
After all the years and players and teams, that's more than enough to create a few new best moments.