Hakim Warrick remembers ‘’the triple zeroes.’’
"When those triple zeroes came up, I realized we won the national championship and how happy everybody was—the fans and the team,’’ Warrick was saying Saturday night when the Chicago Bulls ended a 10-game winning streak with a 98-84 victory over—who else?—the 76ers.
Warrick, the former Friends Central star and now a backup forward with the Bulls, was reminiscing about his ‘’one shining moment,’’ when he blocked a shot with seven-10ths of a second remaining to preserve Syracuse’s NCAA championship victory over Kansas in 2003.
This seemed like a good time to ask the 6-9 Warrick about that moment, with Syracuse a No. 1 seed in the current tournament. The Orange (30-4) advanced to the Sweet 16 against Butler after trouncing No. 8 Gonzaga, 87-65, today.
To reconstruct the 2003 moment: Syracuse led Kansas 81-78. Warrick had missed two free throws with 12.4 seconds remaining. Jayhawks guard Kirk Hinrich (now a Bulls’ teammate) passed to sophomore Michael Lee in the left corner. There was slightly more than one second on the game clock when Lee lofted a potential game-winning three-pointer.
‘’All I saw was the rim,’’ Lee told Sports Illustrated after the game. ‘’I didn’t even know the shot was blocked. I thought it was still floating in the air. After it happened, and I looked where the ball went, it was surprising how much ground he (Warrick) covered.’’
Warrick covered roughly 12 feet in that split second.
‘’I was the center at the time,’’ Warrick said Saturday. ‘’Our forward went out and over-extended the guard. I was under the basket. I wanted to try and challenge the shot. I was able to get to it, to make a play. I had missed those two free throws. It was definitely redemption.’’
The Jayhawks had one last desperation attempt, a miss by Hinrich.
Warrick remembers. He always remembers.
‘’You can’t help it, especially nowadays,’’ he said. ‘’The fans won’t let you. I’ve signed so many pictures, seen so many highlights. When March Madness comes around, they’re going to show that play. It’s something that’s always going to stick with me.’’
He has watched video of the block. He has yet to watch the full championship game, saying he will ‘’somewhere down the line.’’
Warrick, though, was also a senior when the Orange suffered a first-round loss against Vermont. Before the Orange faced Vermont in this year’s first round, he was on the phone to coach Jim Boeheim.
‘’I told him to go get some payback for me,’’ Warrick said, laughing. ‘’They took care of business.’’
Warrick, who graduated in 2005 with a degree in retail management and consumer studies, has since had his jersey retired by Friends Central.
Last week, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed another former Friends Central star, guard Mustafa Shakur, to a 10-day contract.
‘’The school wasn’t known for any type of sports,’’ Warrick said, laughing again. ‘’Suddenly, it’s a powerhouse.’’