Ali Farokhmanesh: Northern Iowa's Shrewd Conquerer

A shell of my former selfCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2010

On the first day of spring, No. 1 has fallen.

Not exactly "do you believe in miracles?", but it's faultlessly uttered. 

Speaking of faultless, how about that March Madness brouhaha?

While we're on the page of difficult words to spell and pronounce, why don't we get right down to the nitty gritty. 

Ali Farokhmanesh. Listed at six foot even, he looks to be at most, 5' 9", tops.

Farokhmanesh looks shorter than every other dude out on the court and doesn't seem like he'll ever be an NBA star, let alone cruise on a roster. 

But, holy hell, what a ballsy introduction. 

All quintessential, trite sports analogies aside, the little man took Goliath to school. And then some.

He pinned Goliath. Farokhmanesh hogtied him, slained him or however else you want to say it.

The kid from Iowa City, Iowa has more than ice water running through his veins. His veins are living, breathing proof that global warming is a farce.

This basketball player has cojones, too. 

With one swift, what-in-the-hell-is-he-doing moment, Northern Iowa went from a No. 9 seed that had an impressive first round win, to the team that will forever be remembered. 

Forever. And ever. And ever. 

Wikipedia will always have Ali Farokhmanesh in its database with a few prime adjectives describing his shot to best Kansas, the No. 1 overall seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament to unthinkably advance to the Sweet 16

That's fame. That's glory. That's why they play and that's why we watch.

Nothing's a given. On any given day, anyone can be beat by anyone. 

UNI was up one point and attempting to stave off what looked to be an impending disaster for the Panthers. Kansas was steamrolling. They'd seen and heard enough of these nobody's.

Bill Self's slew of stars wanted to just "out-talent" the supposedly inferior opponent.

Two feet set. Nobody within his line of sight. Jump. Follow through. 

Flick of the wrist.


Madness. Pure, insatiable, unadulterated lunacy.

Up one on a favorite to win a national championship with 37 seconds left, one would think that a "logical" basketball player would make the "smart" move.

The pundits were pissed on. Every single coaching maneuver, 20 second timeout, and good talking to was put into a brown paper bag and promptly set ablaze on that old neighbor's porch, when Farokhmanesh decided that enough was certainly enough.

T.S. Eliot said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

Now, I don't know if Ali The Great 2.0 is an aficionado of the modernism that is Eliot, but hey, if the shoe fits, right?

The CBS color announcer (who cares who it was) retorted Ali's epic trinity. 

"You can't be serious with that shot!" he essentially yelled at the lionheart.

So what if Farokhmanesh had missed that wide open three-pointer? Imagine Kansas grabbing the board, holding for the last shot and Sherron Collins knifing his way to the hoop for a last second, acrobatic lay-in?

I'm just saying. 

Not saying, too.

Farokhmanesh the visionary? The oracle?

How about Farokhmanesh, the merciless?

He held America for ransom for about three seconds. Closing off windpipes. Chopping down brain cells. Massacring hearts everywhere.

You play to win the game, right?

Just following the rules. The rules are applicable everywhere. Rule 76, a favorite amongst those carpe diem enthusiasts turned out peaches for the minuscule sharp-shooting son of an Iranian immigrant and former volleyball star. 

While on the subject, March 20th of every year is the first day of spring.

It is also the first day of the Iranian new year. Nowruz, as it's referred to. 

We don't know if Harvey Weinstein is behind this script, but it's most certainly a possibility. 

The diminutive, scrapping, dead-eye half-Persian providing the consummate shush gesture to all of college basketball—on Persian New Year's, no less.

Farokhmanesh saw nobody in front of him and decided to take fate into his own hands and apply a slow and steady chokehold until his perfect three-point shot fell immaculately through the net in Oklahoma City. 

You can't go through life in fear of failure.

This reality goes double for athletes, goes triple for collegiate athletes and goes quadruple for professional athletes. And it goes septuple for guys that try their hand in March Madness.

So, now what? 

We've got some T.S. Eliot, a Wedding Crashers correlation, and an audacious chance taken by an undaunted basketball player. 

Rule 76: No excuses, play like a champion.

If the shoe fits. 

And to you, Ali Farokhmanesh: Congratulations, kid. 

You're the belle of the ball.

Oh, and Happy New Year. 

Eideh Shoma Mobarak.




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