“I want the credit if I’m losin’ or I’m winnin’ / On my momma, that’s the realest shit / Love, let’s talk about love / Is it anything and everything you hoped for? / Or do the feeling haunt you? / I know the feeling haunt you.” — Kendrick Lamar
Three years ago, on Valentine’s Day, former MSU basketball player Denzel Valentine nailed a savage game-winning three against Ohio State to rip their fans’ hearts out in a 59-56 dramatic affair. After his dagger into OSU’s heart, the junior Valentine immediately celebrated the big W with an “ice in his veins” celebration. Luckily for the Spartan faithful, his sweet name didn’t match his killer instinct.
It would be the beginning of a fantastic run through the 2014-2015 season. After a strong junior champagne-campaign that resulted in Izzo’s seventh Final-Four run, Valentine opted to return for one more go at it—that elusive, beloved national championship last embraced by the Flintstones in 2000.
In a remarkable senior season in which he averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game, Valentine would edge out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield to win six player of the year (POY) honors—including the coveted Sports Illustrated and AP POY awards. There was no reason Michigan State couldn’t repeat its Final-Four success, or so it seemed.