A first Final Four finally makes Alabama basketball whole

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This is an opinion column.

Maybe this is the way this maddening happy ending was meant to happen all along for the Alabama basketball program, an underdog on its own campus every day of its life. Maybe history means the most when you least expect it, and let’s admit it. No one saw this feel-good movie coming on the outskirts of Hollywood without a single player on the roster flashy enough to wear that name.

Here’s to you, James Robinson. You earned that Hollywood handle all those years ago and wore it well. Wherever you are, I hope you’re smiling at your youngest brothers in crimson and blowing bubbles the way you once did in Wimp Sanderson’s backcourt.

This coulda woulda shoulda been you, Robert Horry and Latrell Sprewell, taking the Tide deeper into the NCAA Tournament than it had ever been before, all the way to the Final Four. Just the same, Alabama wouldn’t be what it is, the second-best basketball program in the history of the Southeastern Conference by virtually every tangible measure, without you and so many other gifted players and storied personalities.

The Roll Tide roll call will commence shortly.

But not before we acknowledge that the homegrown heart of this historic team comes from a corner of the state not known as hoops heaven, with a last name that once was a brand name for reliability and a game as gritty as the sound laid down by the area’s famous session musicians.

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