Maui Invitational turns 30 years old

The legend is so dominant that even the tiniest of details are well known. "Yes, Virginia, there is a Chaminade," began as a Honolulu newspaper headline and was silkscreened onto who knows how many T-shirts. Randolph was dubbed the "Miracle Man." Newspaper editors checked numerous sources before they felt comfortable running the story; a day later, in footage you can still find online, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw would tell the world about college basketball's equivalent of "a Golden Glover beating world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes." Merv Lopes, Chaminade's coach at the time -- the picture of perfect dispassion in his NBC close-up -- had claimed it would be a moral victory to stay within 20 points of the Cavs. Chaminade often had to "borrow" its team towels from hotels. And so on.

"It was more of a miracle than an upset," Lopes told USA Today in 2007.

True enough. But the mythos of the miracle tends to overshadow the work Chaminade did in its wake -- both on the court and off -- to give birth to a premier early-season college hoops tournament, which begins its 30th consecutive competition Monday afternoon.

The idea for an annual tournament began almost immediately after the upset: Holland told Chaminade the buzz around the Silverswords was an opportunity to turn the win into a lasting, yearly event.

Since then, the upset has received most of the credit for the tournament's formation, and rightly so. But Chaminade didn't stop knocking off teams in 1982. It won 22 straight games after the Virginia upset. In 1983, it knocked off Louisville in a one-off event on the island. And then, in 1984, a month after the first official Maui Invitational, it beat ranked SMU and Louisville for the second time in three years.

"We were determined not to just be that team that beat Virginia that one time," Randolph said. "We were always trying to sustain what the night was like as a team. It was one of those perfect nights. We played fearlessly. It was a great, great win. But we weren't quite finished.

"And that drew a lot of attention too. Let's face it -- the ACC, Big East and West Coast, that's where all the focus was for basketball. Now there was this exciting team in this exotic paradise of an island whooping up on these great programs -- it got people excited."

That collective excitement allowed Chaminade to not only get the tournament off the ground but keep it there, no small feat for a tiny school in an era when teams were just beginning to play around with the idea of nonconference, neutral-court events.

"All of a sudden there was this huge calling for other teams to come over," Odom said.

The first few tournaments were practically beta tests. The inaugural edition was played in Kona, the Big Island. It moved to War Memorial Gym in Wailuku in 1985; it expanded from four to eight teams a year later. In 1987, Chaminade picked out Lahaina Civic Center as its venue -- and hosted Danny Manning and his Miracles from Kansas -- and it has remained in Lahaina since.

In 1990, Chaminade president Dr. Kent Keith approached Chicago-based public relations firm KemperLesnik -- which already had operated the Women's Kemper Open, the first live sporting event ever televised in Hawaii -- and proposed the firm take over the operations for the tournament. In 2001, EA Sports became the title sponsor.

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