Jud, Izzo and Zags at the Final Four?

Thirty years ago this week, South Kitsap grad Jud Heathcote, who grew up in Manchester, was involved in what most believe to be the most important college basketball game ever played.

You know the one: Magic vs. Bird. Michigan State vs. Indiana. The 1979 NCAA championship game won by Michigan State and Magic Johnson over Indiana State and Larry Bird was the most watched basketball game in the history of the sport.

It was the start of March Madness as we know it.

Heathcote, a member of the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame, coached Michigan State that memorable night. He was the guy in the green plaid pants. Now living in Spokane, he’s still coaching, only he’s doing it from the stands as he tries to pull two of his favorites teams — Michigan State and Gonzaga to the next round.

Jud was in Minneapolis last weekend for  reunion of sorts. Current Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Dayton coach Brian Gregory were on his staff at MSU in the early 1990s. The two, in fact, were roommates.

Another former MSU assistant, Utah’s Jim Boylen, was also on that Spartans’ staff.

Utah and Dayton didn’t reach the Sweet 16. Still, you can imagine how proud Jud must be of his former assistants.

Jud talks regularly with Izzo and doens’t miss many Gonzaga games. He’s close to Mark Few and the Zags’ staff.

Thirty years after Magic and Bird and Jud, wouldn’t it be something if it could be Izzo and Gonzaga and Jud at the 2009 Final Four in Detroit?

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