The 2005 Conference USA tournament final is a game that lives on in the minds of many college basketball fans due in large part to its dramatic (and heartbreaking) conclusion. Then-Memphis point guard Darius Washington Jr. was fouled by a Louisville player while attempting a three-pointer, sending the freshman to the line for three free throws with no time left on the clock.
Trailing 75-73, making all three would have given the Tigers the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and after Washington swished the first John Calipari’s team looked to be well on its way. But he missed the next two, resulting in the painful sight of a despondent Washington lying on the FedEx Forum floor as teammates attempted to console him.
Washington’s moment served as the inspiration for the Phish song “The Line,” which will be on the group’s album that’s scheduled to be released on June 24. Lead singer Trey Anastasio stated during a live set that the song is based on Washington’s missed free throws in a Final Four game against Michigan State (which obviously did not happen).
The song is written from the standpoint of Darius, standing there on the parquet floor of the FedEx Forum in Memphis in front of his home crowd, just before the shots were taken. We have all been told how to handle times of stress where you are put on stage: You have done this before, stand tall, control your breathing. Take your time, nail these shots, and your whole future is in front of you…
But that doesn’t always hold true. Sometimes, no matter the amount of preparation or skill that you may have, it just does not work out. The shots don’t fall. For whatever reason, the rim just continues to get smaller in front of you.
What’s Washington up to these days? He recently finished the 2013-14 season with Olin Edirne in the Turkish Basketball League, where he posted averages of 23.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The photo of Washington is from his time with Lottomatica Roma.
You can listen to “The Line” here if you’ve yet to hear the song.
h/t Rolling Stone