Isiah Thomas and Mateen Cleaves sat together in the front row Garden seats and spent the night talking about Markquis Nowell’s amazing toughness and composure. Cleves once won Michigan’s championship after he thought he broke his ankle in the 2000 title match against Florida.
In 1988, with the Detroit Pistons, Thomas overcame a sprained ankle to score 25 points in the third quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Magic Johnson’s Lakers.
So those prominent guards returned from ankle injuries early in the second half on Thursday and continued to tear Michigan State’s defense apart in Sweet before all that the 5-foot-8 Nowell did in his elevator shoes. Earned the right to criticize the move. 16. And this night Norwell, the undisputed king of New York, saw them in one minute, changed left in overtime, and earned the right to say his two words next Did.
look at this.
Watch him throw an alley-oop pass to Keyyonte Johnson that leads to an acrobatic reverse dunk to score points in a college basketball game that witnesses will never forget.
“It was just a basketball play between me and Keyontae,” says Nowell.
It was just a basketball play, as on the Spartans’ last possession he stole fellow New York point guard Tyson Walker. Just as he crazily ran down the floor, reversed his layup to beat the buzzer, and froze the final score of 98-93 in the eternal light, it was just a basketball play. bottom.
Of Harlem, Nowell had 20 points and an NCAA tournament-record 19 assists. He finished with five steals and just two turnovers, flooring and defeating the brave Walker, the Michigan star of Christo the King High in Queens, as the Wildcats finished in the quarter. I pushed the back to the other side.
“This is my city,” Nowell said on court.
“This was special in front of my hometown,” he later said, “in front of a city that loves me.”
His Twitter handle is “MrNewYorkCityy” for a reason. There’s a reason why, according to his profile, he “always believed that one day he would be big.”
Nowell played two seasons in high school for Bishop Rocklin at Fort Greene, where he faced Walker on several occasions. They had to make the jump from a mid-major to a power-five destination to this surreal matchup at the Garden. The night before the game, Nowell said, “I want to give New York City a big shoutout for the tough, gritty breeding.”
After all, the toughest and gritty player on the floor was Nowell, who went down with an ankle injury but somehow came back and put on a great show.
Immediately after the injury, Nowell was giving the Wildcats a thunderous energy. I jumped off the floor. Nowell then stole the ball from Michigan State and assisted the basket to regain the lead it had lost while receiving treatment on the bench.
“Mateen and I were constantly discussing how he controlled the game,” Thomas told The Post. “Mark Kiss took advantage of every mistake Michigan State made and read every pick-and-roll right.
Thomas said he flashed back more than once to his performance against the Lakers 35 years ago. “
Nowell heard all the talk about the Isiah Finals with the Lakers. But when the Kansas playmaker saw Thomas sitting in the stands with Cleves and other Michigan dignitaries, he wasn’t thinking about that.
“He was rooting for them,” Nowell said. “And I said, ‘I’m not going to win today.’ And I kept asking him for more motivation.”
Nowell controlled the entire game with his passes, chopping up the Michigan State defense with no-look and full-look dishes, bounces, and lobs. He also unleashed his 3-point shot from the right flank and looked away from the ball before it came flying in the middle.
It was Nowell’s first appearance in the Gardens and it looked like he would be playing here for the rest of his life. Frankly, given the defining moments of the late great Willis Reed’s career, this was the most appropriate angle on the board.
“Minor injuries like this that happen all the time on the basketball court didn’t stop me from playing in the Sweet 16 and progressing to the Elite Eight,” Nowell said.
He likened this epic battle to the “Battle of Rocky,” which Michigan State University has painted on canvas. Long ago, Tom Izzo was a victim of The Garden when Duke’s Mike Krzewski beat him to break Bob Knight’s all-time win record. This one hurts much more.
Izzo said his team was “fascinated by Nowell.” Isiah Thomas told the Post that the Kansas star is “a total NBA player. It was special to be here to see him.”
At the end of the Magical Garden Night, a packed house will say amen to it.