Maui Invitational turns 30 years old

There have been other, more recent, changes: In 2011, the tournament expanded to 12 teams, adding opening and regional round games. Odom spearheaded the transition, which kept the original holiday tournament from falling prey to a glut of early-season events that offered less travel and more attractive financial propositions, in the form of hosted "preliminary" round games.

Lahaina has changed too: The event brings roughly 4,500 people, and an estimated $8 million a year to the island. The Civic Center has seen at least $1 million in renovations, from a new floor to new scoreboards to, in 2003, good, old-fashioned air conditioning.

Meanwhile, plenty of other tournaments have copied the Maui formula, and are getting better at it all the time. In recent years, even as the Maui field has remained loaded, events such as the Battle 4 Atlantis have put together excellent fields on the promise of similar benefits -- Thanksgiving in paradise -- without all 5,000 miles of travel to go along with it.

"People seem to wonder all the time ... are you going to be able to keep this thing going?" Odom said. "The way I see it, there are enough teams for everybody."

Meanwhile, 30 years on, a few things have stayed the same. The venue still seats 2,400 fans for each game. Thanks to that size, the atmosphere -- which is probably best described as "high school gym on steroids" -- stands in stark contrast to many of the events that have followed in its wake, where cavernous gyms are quiet no matter how good the basketball is on the floor.

And, of course, there is the most notable constant: Chaminade, which has hosted, and participated in, every field since 1984.

"Seeing the Chaminade kids every year, knowing that's where this thing originates," Randolph said. "That's pretty special."


The 2012 Maui Invitational was probably Randolph's favorite.

Randolph, who spent 20 years as a juvenile outreach counselor in Honolulu, made it to a handful of tournaments over the years. Usually, his work schedule prevented it. But in 2012, he was invited back in an official capacity, when tournament organizers honored the 1982 upset with a reunion ceremony.

That's how Randolph, after three decades of mutual radio silence with Sampson, found himself on the sideline, watching Butler guard Rotnei Clarke sink Marquette with a last-second 3, in deep conversation with the man against whom his legend was sealed.

"Ralph and I were sitting courtside near scouts and coaches, and we had just seen [Clarke's shot]," Randolph said. "It was the first time we'd talked in 31 years, the first time since we played. We finally got to reconnect as home boys, like we were back in high school. We were chatting about life -- about how things change."

The next game on the docket was Chaminade-Texas. Randolph and Sampson joked.

"We were just like, hey, what are the chances," Randolph said, laughing.

Then, for the next two hours, the two men most responsible for the creation of the Maui Invitational -- the gifted Goliath carrying a tragically short NBA career on his shoulders; the old rival whose high school coach put a broom in the air to prepare him for his foe -- sat side by side and watched.

The Silverswords upset the Longhorns 86-73.

"That gave me goose bumps," Randolph said.

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