Next week House of Sparky will begin our "#SunDevilMoments" tournament, with the 16 best moments from the athletic season. This week we will randomly introduce all 16 moments, then reveal our seedings and match-ups next week, where you, the reader, will vote on what was the ASU athletics Moment of the Year.
In 2012, Arizona State experienced its best men’s basketball success since its run to the NCAA tournament that James Harden took the Sun Devils to in 2009. Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski were the cornerstones of that ASU team that went 21-12 and made an NIT run, bringing an excitement to ASU that the basketball team hadn’t garnered from fans since Harden’s days in Tempe.
The 2012 season served as the foundation for the 2013 campaign that saw ASU finish third in the conference and make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Carson and Bachynski paced the team to wins over marque basketball programs such as Arizona, UNLV and Marquette.
That 2013 campaign was the last that Carson and Bachynski was participate in, but another ASU fan favorite that emerged in that year has become a mainstay of the ASU basketball student experience. Yes, it’s the Curtain of Distraction.
The 942 Crew, ASU’s university-run club dedicated to improving student attendance at Sun Devil athletics, debuted the Curtain in 2013 with the intention of giving fans kicks and inducing opponent bricks. When an opposing player shoots a free throw in the student section side of the court, an eccentrically-dressed and likely-dancing distractor gets their five seconds to disrupt the shooter’s focus.
Everyone who’s seen the Curtain has a favorite character, whether it be the Left Shark they debuted after the Super Bowl, the dancing grandma, the ever-hilarious kissing horses or another invention of 942 Crew’s comedically-twisted mind.
The Curtain became an early favorite of ASU students, and soon the rest of the sports world caught on. Coke Zero filmed a commercial with the Curtain that aired throughout the 2013 NCAA tournament, but it wasn’t until the Curtain returned in 2014-15 that its popularity soared. ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report among others are examples of major media outlets that either featured the Curtain on one of their shows or wrote about it on their site.
The New York Times, arguably the most widely-respected newspaper in the country, published a in-depth study that delved into the statistics to determine the Curtain’s effectiveness or lack thereof. Their conclusion? The Curtain makes a 5-10-percent difference in visiting team free-throw attempts, proving that what could’ve easily just been a viral sensation will remain part of the fabric of ASU basketball for the foreseeable future.
We saw this moment as the No. 16 moment of the ASU athletic season. It will be up to the readers, beginning next week, to see how far this moment goes in our bracket.