The UConn Huskies have been fantastic champions
Great programs have a responsibility to their sport. Dan Hurley's has lived up to it
In May of 2021, Manchester United legend and renowned crank Roy Keane said he thought defending Premier League winners Liverpool were being “bad champions.” Coming from Keane, there could be few worse insults, few indictments more grave. Bad champions. He practically spit when he said it.
The specific merits of the argument about Jurgen Klopp’s team aren’t really worth going into. (Something about believing their own hype and complaining too much. It didn’t totally scan, but Keane is going to Keane.)
The broader concept, though, has always stuck with me. The idea that winning a championship doesn’t just make you and your fans happy for a little while, but actually confers a responsibility onto the winners — to defend that championship, to prove yourself worthy of it, and to conduct yourself in certain way while doing so — is an idea worth adopting.
Buzzer by Eamonn Brennan is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
What makes a good champion, then, in college basketball terms? Here’s one definition: A good champion uses success to give back to the culture that fostered it. A good champion makes the whole sport better and more fun.
As they prepare to play the third top-10 nonconference opponent away from home Friday night — UConn tips against Gonzaga in Seattle at 10 p.m. ET — you have to say: The 2023-24 UConn Huskies have been phenomenal champions.