San Antonio – The memories came rushing back for Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes on Saturday night.
The former teammates at Michigan State were back at the Final Four, three years after they were part of a Spartans team that lost in the national semifinals to Duke in Indianapolis.
Only this time, they weren’t wearing green and white. Instead, the Lansing Sexton grads were decked out in the maroon and gold of Loyola-Chicago, supporting Denzel’s brother, Drew, an assistant coach for the Ramblers.
“Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the Final Four this year wearing a Loyola shirt,” Denzel Valentine said. “But God works in mysterious ways. I’m excited for them.”
Valentine and Forbes were both fortunate enough to have a break in their NBA schedules. For Valentine, that meant flying from Orlando, Fla., to San Antonio after his Bulls team beat the Magic on Friday night. For Forbes, the trip was quicker as he plays in town with the Spurs.
But both were more than happy to wear Ramblers gear while pulling for their second-favorite college team.
“I could never have guessed this would happen,” Forbes said. “Drew is doing some great things over there and it’s an exciting time for everybody. We all were able to hook up the other night, all the guys from Lansing.”
Valentine has been able to form a close bond with many of the Ramblers players since campus is not far from where the Bulls play and practice. He said he makes a point to see his brother once or twice a week and has become one of Loyola’s biggest supporters.
“It’s been awesome times,” Valentine said. “Watching the tournament, it feels like I’m a part of something when I’m watching it.”
The former Spartans were both hoping they’d be watching their alma mater, but pulling for Loyola was almost as fun, even though the Ramblers’ run ended with a 69-57 loss to Michigan.
The entire atmosphere, however, was one both enjoyed.
“It’s crazy,” Valentine said. “I was telling my brother like, the preparation, the videos, the fans, the whole scenery, playing in a football stadium, it brings back a lot of good memories.”