In case you missed it, Greenville hasn’t hosted a NCAA Tournament since 2002. While that might not seem like too long ago (it’s in the 2000’s right?), just know that someone born during March Madness in 2002 would be able to get a South Carolina Driver’s Permit this month. Feeling old? Us too.
Anyway, thanks to Nikki Haley and the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House, the NCAA tournaments are back in Greenville. Here’s a look back at life the last time the Madness came around.
Most popular songs: “In The End” by Linkin Park and “Ain’t it Funny” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule
Top Movie: Ice Age (in case you were wondering, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released later that year)
Top TV Shows: CSI, American Idol, Joe Millionaire, Friends and Survivor. Also something to take note of, Ozzy Osbourne put his family into the reality spotlight with The Osbournes on MTV, beginning a trend of other several other B-level Hollywood families to do the same. (Looking at you, Kardashians).
Popular Hollywood Couples: Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake. Jennifer Aniston & Brad Pitt, and the original “Newlyweds”, Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey.
Fashion trends: anything denim, camo print and/or cargo shorts.
Nokia released its 350i mobile phone, which was one of the first devices to include internet services and a color screen.
Comcast promised the public that it would stop recording the Web browsing activities of its 1 million high-speed Internet subscribers. Probably a good call.
Super Bowl XXXVI Champions: New England Patriots. The Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-17 for their very first Super Bowl Championship. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP.
NCAA College Football Champions: Miami Hurricanes. The Canes defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14 for their fifth (and most recent) National Championship.
NCAA Basketball Champions: Maryland. The Final Four included Maryland, Kansas, Indiana and Oklahoma.
Other random facts from 2002
Allergy-prone individuals everywhere rejoiced as Claritin (invented 1993) became available over the counter.
Bruce Willis purchased 12,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for American troops stationed throughout the Middle East.
Steven Spielberg finally finished college after a 33 year hiatus. He turned in Schindler’s List for his student film requirement.
Reminiscing about 2002 is all well and good, but what was different about Greenville in 2002? Here’s what might look different this time around to someone who attended the last tournament.
While visitors will have no shortage of basketball this weekend, they won’t be seeing any NBDL teams calling Greenville home. The Greenville Groove played two seasons at the Bi-Lo Center (now the Bon Secours Wellness Arena) from 2001 until 2003.
A new hockey team. Coincidentally, Greenville’s very first NHL team, The Greenville Grrrowl, won the Kelly Cup during the 2001-02 season.
A very different bridge. This time in 2002, Greenville had a four-lane, “perfectly good bridge” standing over the Reedy River, which was torn down later that year. In August, Mayor Knox White announced “In Full Bloom in 2003,” a $13 million initiative to transform the park into a public garden and oasis.
Woodruff Road had a mall, but no shopping center. The Greenville Mall sat next to Hollywood 20 Movie Theater’s current location. It eventually went out of business after years of competition with the Haywoood Mall in 2004. The Shops at Greenridge were built in 2005.
We have a different baseball team too. The Greenville Braves played at Greenville Municipal Stadium on Mauldin Road (located next to Connestee Park) from 1984 until 2004. Fluor Field of the West End opened in 2006 as a Red Sox affiliate.
Times have definitely changed for the better since the last NCAA Tournament. Here’s to all the (March) Madness to come.