A bird’s-eye perspective of Isaac Edelman’s experience at the Final Four


Isaac Edelman, Reporter

I had a job to do. 

It was Friday, March 31st. 

I got in the car and was en route to the Orlando International Airport. Shortly after, I boarded a huge United airplane in preparation for a two-hour flight to Houston for March Madness.

Yes, I was headed to the Final 4 as a credentialed media member. I had never been to a sports game of such, let alone as a media member. I was excited for what was to come.

When I boarded the airplane, I was amazed at what I saw. First of all, the airplane was massive; it was a Boeing 777-200 with 53 rows. Even better, the plane was full of March Madness fans. Literally, every single passenger on the flight was headed to Houston for one reason: to watch the Final Four.

I knew this was just the start of an amazing trip when a UConn fan started a Huskies chant (U-C-O-N-N) mid-flight.

Anyway, I landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport at about 9 PM and got a quick Uber to our media hotel in downtown Houston. I went to sleep right away because I knew what was to come tomorrow.

It was Saturday morning, April 1st. It was April Fools. But it was also the big day. It was Final 4 game day. My schedule was simple: I had to cover two huge college basketball games that night. The first game would feature FAU and SDSU and the second game would feature Miami and UConn.

After eating breakfast, I headed over to NRG Stadium to pick up my credentials. I received my press pass, and that is when reality set in. This laminated piece of paper and lanyard around my neck gave me access to everything I needed. I had locker room access, court access, etc.

Even though we were about five hours out from tip-off, something big was happening inside the stadium, specifically in the press conference room.

There was a Naismith Memorial NBA Hall of Fame announcement. I found myself sitting in front of the most famous basketball players who were going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade was at the podium, and he was joined by Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and many others.


After the press conference ended, I walked out of the media workroom into the tunnel. I did an entire lap around the stadium to get familiar with the area. It was really cool seeing everyone prepare for the two big games coming that night. Chefs were preparing loads of food and drinks. Employees were having meetings. Merchandise was being sorted and distributed. Security was busy with their assignments, including guarding the locker rooms. And media members like me were preparing news stories. 

While in the tunnel, I got a chance to meet one of my favorite basketball players of all time, Dwyane Wade. I also got a chance to talk to Dirk Nowitzki, who called me small. I guess it is a compliment and an honor to be made fun of by an NBA Hall of Famer.


During my time in the tunnel, I made great connections while having conversations with media members. I had a great interaction with legendary broadcasters Jim Nantz and Ernie Johnson too.

Anyway, it was time for FAU to take the court in front of 73,000 at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

Yes, 73,000 people were in attendance. For reference, FAU’s stadium holds fewer than 3,000, so it was definitely a crazy atmosphere and crowd not just for me, but for the players.

Anyway, the game went by and I multi-tasked. Obviously, I focused on watching the competitive play in front of me on the court, but while play went on, I live tweeted, took videos and photos, and much more.

Fast forwarding, there were seconds remaining and FAU had a one-point lead. I could not believe it. It appeared like the Owls were heading to the National Title game, which I would attend on Monday night. 

What happens next… is insanity.

San Diego State’s Lamont Butler hit the shot of the century right in front of my eyes. 

I remember the moment as if it happened yesterday. Butler dribbled the ball. Butler shot the ball before time ran out. The buzzer sounded. The building was silent. A half a second later, the ball went through the net. The crowd went absolutely ballistic. It was the craziest atmosphere I have ever been a part of. It was the coolest shot I have ever witnessed. I was a media member, so I had to keep my cool. But I was in awe.

I clearly remember seeing water and beer go up in the air as fans could not control themselves, deservedly so.

I was three rows from the court. I had the best view of the shot. It was truly a moment to remember. 


After living through the moment, I remembered that I had a second game to cover. Yes, my night was not over just yet. Miami and UConn took the court looking to follow the show that was just put on by SDSU.

Miami put up a good fight but UConn won with ease. Even though there were no memorable moments like the SDSU game-winner, I enjoyed covering yet another college basketball game on a national stage. It is an honor to be in this position, especially at this age. 

My night ended in the media workroom as I made my final tweets of the night and some final edits to my article. The media members received a midnight buffet to end our night!

I slept late on Sunday, our free day! I did not do much but I did attend the Men’s Final Four Fan Fest. I got a lot of cool, free giveaways and participated in fun basketball challenges.

It was now Monday, April 3rd. It was the morning of the National Title game between UConn and San Diego State. While I was upset that FAU wasn’t in the championship game, I was excited to cover such a big event. 

As the game started, I felt the energy and excitement quicklyspreading in the building. It was packed.

UConn started off well, but in the final minutes, SDSU cashed in shots to make it a game. It put adrenaline in the air. However, the Huskies kept their large lead and notched the win, becoming National Champions.

I quickly got out of my media seat and walked onto the court. Yes, I had court access a few minutes after the final buzzer sounded as confetti fell on the court. 

I took pictures and videos of the players on the podium and cutting down the net. Then, I headed to the locker room where I interviewed the national champions 1-on-1. It was a surreal experience to be able to interview the best college basketball stars seconds after their biggest game.

And that is how my media experience went.

I got back to the hotel room at about 2 AM and had to wake up shortly after at 5 AM for a flight back to Florida. While I got no sleep, I would do this again any day of the week; the experience was worth all of the hurdles.

Three games. Many celebrity sightings. Many interviews. Tons of content. A lot of chills. And a lifetime of memories made.