No, I don’t have a bill. Yes, I lack feathers and webbed feet. I struggle to fly, and I don’t lay eggs. But, I am 100% a duck.
Regardless of my lack of duck features, on Saturday night, I sat on my couch in my dorm with a Dillon Brooks jersey on, quacking away. Ignore the fact that I am a human that can use real words to communicate with others, I quacked. I quacked at those that didn’t want to be quacked at and I quacked at those that did.
I didn’t do this because I like to be annoying. I did this because I am fully invested in the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team. They have become a huge part of my life, and I’m here to take you through that journey from man to duck.
It all started last year. Freshman year of college. I had a lot of free time on my hands on weeknights, so I watched basketball. What kind of basketball is on at 11 pm on random Wednesdays? PAC 12 basketball.
That was not the same PAC 12. It wasn’t nearly as fun as it was this year. There was no Lonzo Ball or Lauri Markannen. There was Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and two NBA prospects in Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown at Cal. That was all the entertainment you’d get from out west. But despite its lack of excitement, I watched the Pac 12. A lot.
As I watched the Conference of Champions, to quote the great Bill Walton, I started to love Dillon Brooks and the brand of basketball that Oregon showed me. Brooks was a strange tweener that played his heart out every game. The whole Oregon team did. And they were an interesting mix of players. They were led offensively by Elgin Cook and Dillon Brooks. Tyler Dorsey was a talented freshman, but he wasn’t even close to as confident as he is now. Casey Benson had a more prominent role as the primary floor general without Payton Pritchard in Eugene. Dwayne Benjamin (Snoop Dogg), Jordan Bell, and Chris Boucher were just role players that did their job and hoped for Cook and Brooks to lead them offensively. But the team played with a certain toughness and intensity that was really fun to watch.
As the season progressed, I found myself cheering for the Ducks as they quacked through the Pac 12. I knew right when the brackets came out that I would have them making a run in the tournament.
Finally, when Selection Sunday rolled around, I got my bracket in hand, and despite my absurd love for all things Buddy Hield, I had Oregon in the Final Four. The rest of my bracket would figure itself out, but they were definitely in the Final Four on my bracket.
Ultimately, I chose to have the Ducks making it to the national championship game before falling to Michigan State (my bracket was amazing, as you can tell).
I enjoyed the whole tournament rooting for the Ducks as they topped the underrated St. Joe’s Hawks team in the round of 32. I loved everything about Dillon Brooks’ shot at the end of the Sweet 16 matchup with Duke. Everything was perfect until they ran into the Sooners. As the Ducks fell to the Sooners, I realized that I was thinking about next season for the Ducks and that I had become an actual fan.
Fast forward to November of 2016. As usual, I’m getting excited for the college basketball season. I had forgotten about the Ducks that I admired so much the past season until the tip of the Michigan State-Arizona game. A couple friends and I were discussing who we would be rooting for this year. I thought back to last year and realized, “That Oregon team was one of my favorite teams to watch.”
That was the decision. From that point on I watched every game I could. If I couldn’t watch a game then I would be updating the score every minute on my phone. And so, my Oregon fandom began.
It was a day ruiner when they got decimated by Baylor, albeit without Dillon Brooks. I was absolutely disgusted when they got manhandled by an atrocious Georgetown team. But sure enough, my quacking persisted through the adversity. I quacked my way to PAC 12 play when #1 UCLA came to Eugene. I watched nervously from the start when the Ducks came out firing from deep. I sat in fear as Payton Pritchard hit a 3 to cut the Bruin lead to 1. Then after Bryce Alford missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Pritchard dribbled down the court, dumped it to Brooks, who took a couple dribbles to the right then rose up and drilled a 3 over Lonzo Ball. The happiness I experienced after that shot was something else. I never had any crazy college basketball rooting interests. I knew then that I was stuck being an Oregon fan for life. I was a full-time Duck.
Now here we are. I have watched every game from Iona to Kansas and I’m already counting down the seconds to the Tar Heels. I have sweat out each and every game in this tournament. Tyler Dorsey has made me the happiest duck in the world with his bombs. Jordan Bell has forced some loud quacks out of me by blocking everything the Jayhawks brought his way.
I’m stuck driving this Ducks bandwagon now. I have gone from a man that really loved watching Oregon basketball to a duck that wouldn’t be able to fly for the next year if Oregon comes up short at this point in the tourney. The ride from man to duck has been a fun one. Quack.