Reid Gettys is a successful litigation attorney in Houston, but even in the courtroom he cannot escape the other court of his past. Like the time a judge in South Texas calls a recess, tells Gettys to approach the bench and asks, "Why stall?"
Gettys is suddenly scrambling, pointing out to the judge that he's only called three witnesses and it's a complex case with a number of moving parts, but the judge waves him off. "No. Why stall?"
"I look at him like, 'North Carolina State?' " Gettys says, shaking his head. "And he's like, 'Yeah.' "
The stall in question is University of Houston coaching legend Guy V. Lewis' still controversial decision to hold back his Phi Slama Jama team and try to use clock in arguably the most famous Final Four championship game of all time. North Carolina State ends up winning at the buzzer of course, launching the legend of Jimmy Valvano. And Gettys — Phi Slama Jama's underrated 6-foot-7 point guard — is still getting asked questions about how it could have happened.
"We have the ability to host big-time events like no other. We knock it out of the ballpark."
Gettys brings up the judge's stall recess right before the 2016 Houston Final Four logo is officially revealed on this afternoon as a way of illustrating how long lasting and impactful Final Four moments are.
The logos themselves are often forgettable. This new one highlights the NCAA Championship Trophy, making it look like something of a rocket ship, and utilizes the red, white and blue colors and shape of the Texas flag. Its coolest feature is the prominent Lone Star in the night sky. But no logo lives on as long as the impact from a Final Four.
No one has to tell anyone associated with the 2011 Houston Final Four that. In many ways, that 2011 Final Four propelled Houston back into the big-time sports event stratosphere, setting the Bayou City up as a premier go-to stop for the sports world's most important showcases. There was a long gap between the 2004 Super Bowl and the 2011 Final Four, but after the Final Four success, the major sports events are coming fast and furious.
The 2013 NBA All-Star Game. The 2016 Final Four. The 2017 Super Bowl.
"We have the ability to host big-time events like no other," boasts Gettys, a native Houstonian with two degrees from UH. "We knock it out of the ballpark."
Houston Final Four Changes
The way the 2011 Final Four utilized venues outside the stadium like Discovery Green, creating a real gathering point with major concert acts in the park, has become the blueprint for every major Houston sports event that's followed. And for many in other cities around the country. There is much more focus on the non-game events, much more emphasis on getting an entire city involved and excited rather than just catering to sports fans now.
On this day, the man who led the overwhelming logistical effort that made the 2011 Houston Final Four so successful and praised, stands off to the side as prominent NCAA officials are interviewed. Doug Hall, the president of CEO of the 2016 Final Four Local Organizing Committee, has never been one to seek attention.
The 2016 Final Four will make it two Final Fours in three years for Texas (Jerry World hosted in 2014) and six since 1998.
He'd rather let the event do the talking.
Hall hopes that the Final Four having been here just three ago — as opposed to the 40-year gap between the 1971 Final Four at the Astrodome and its 2011 return — will increase excitement rather than give it anything close to an old hat feel. With the idea being that locals know how much off-the-court fun comes with a Final Four these days.
Hall tells CultureMap that the 2016 Final Four will not use the Main Street area as a new catalyst spot like the 2017 Super Bowl plans. There is discussion about whether Bracket Town — the Final Four fan fest — should move from George R. Brown to the NRG Park area right by the stadium though.
One thing the NCAA will not be doing is leaving Texas anytime soon. The 2016 Final Four will make it two Final Fours in three years for the Lone Star State (Jerry World hosted in 2014) and six Texas Final Fours since 1998.
"It's clear Texas is much more than a football state," 2016 NCAA Tournament selection committee chair Joe Castiglione says.
It is also clear that Houston's standing as a go-to major events host is secure.
"I think we're already on the map," Hall says. "At the same time, people have to remember we can't get these every single year. There are a lot of cities vying for them."
Hall is standing on the sparkling court of the M.D. Anderson YMCA in Northwest Houston as he talks. This spot was picked for the logo reveal because it was the 68th local court redone as part of the NCAA's community outreach with the 2011 Final Four.
No one one needs to remind anyone here how long Final Four memories last. All it takes is a quick word with a former Coog or one of the little kids passing out new Final Four logo cookies at the YMCA.