The Iowa State men’s basketball team has really made a name for themselves over the years. Due to the team’s record-breaking comebacks, unexpected wins and overall great playing, “Hilton Magic” has become a nationally recognizable term for Iowa State’s hosted games at Hilton Coliseum. Hilton magic is something that you can’t fully understand until you experience it firsthand. Every game keeps you on your toes, and you never know what will happen next, it can be a bit like magic. If you’ve never been able to experience Hilton magic, here are a few examples of what makes Iowa State men's basketball above the rest.
The players have heart for more than just the game.
Players change from year to year, but something that never changes for the Cyclones is their heart. It is more than just a game to them, this is their life. These boys put their blood, sweat and tears into every game. The heart they have for not only the game, but their fans and their school is what Cyclone Nation is really about. The bond the players and fans have is unexplainable. The player's love Hilton Magic just as much as the rest of us, "You know Hilton Magic is going to happen, you just don’t know when," senior Jameel McKay stated after this year's comeback against their ultimate rival, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
Senior’s Abdel Nader, Jameel McKay and Georges Niang left the Crowd in tears after they played their last game on Hilton’s court. "You guys have been everything to me. I was afraid coming to the game today because I don’t want to leave this place. But as I got on the court and saw 14,000 of you guys, I realized I’m not leaving. I got a home forever in Ames and I thank you for that.” Georges Niang stated in-between-tears after his final minutes on the court.
It doesn’t end after college.
Past Iowa state players are part of the Cyclone family forever. No matter how long ago they graduated, or what they’re doing now, they always check in and keep tabs on the current team.
Former Iowa State player Dustin Hogue regularly stays in touch with the team, even when he’s all the way in Greece! The 2015 Iowa State grad now plays professionally in Europe.
After the tough fight against Oklahoma University in the Big 12 Tournament this year, Iowa State’s former player Melvin Ejim sent some words of encouragement to the team. Ejim graduated from Iowa State in 2014 and now plays for the Erie Bayhawks in the NBA development league in hopes to rejoin the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Chris Babb, former Iowa State player who played in the NBA and now plays professionally in Europe, stated that he misses playing for the Cyclones. Babb graduated from Iowa State in 2013 and now his younger brother, Nick Babb, plays for the Cyclones.
Not only the players are dedicated.
Iowa State students and fans take the term “Loyal sons forever true” from the fight song very seriously. Iowa State has a fan base that frequently ranks among the largest in the nation. For big games, student’s line up days before game day in hopes to get a front row seat for the magic. This year, for the Kansas University game, students set up their tents a week before the game, now that’s dedication. By the end of the week, there were over 100 tents surrounding Hilton, appropriately named “Tent City.” Students camp out through rain, shine and subfreezing temperatures. Not even a fire can stop them.
Iowa State students awoke in the middle of the night from the smell of fumes. A propane tank caught on fire, and a tent erupted into flames. There were no injuries, and no spots were lost in line.
The legacies left in Hilton Coliseum will be remembered forever.
Hilton Coliseum first opened its doors to seat more than 14,000 people in December of 1971. It was specifically built to hold in sound. The term "Hilton Magic" was first used in 1989, and still applies to this day. Many memorable people and games tie into the magic.
Johnny Orr may be one of the biggest legacies to ever be left in Hilton Coliseum. For 14 years, the crowd would roar with excitement after the announcer would say "Here's Johnny," Orr would respond with his signature fist pump...and usually a Cyclone win. His coaching doubled the crowds attendance from roughly 6,000 to 14,000. He is the career leader of wins with a record of 218. After Orr passed away in 2013, the city was at a loss for words. Orr was an extraordinary man who reshaped Iowa State men's basketball for the better. "He was my hero," Former Iowa State player and coach Fred Hoiberg stated.
One of the many memorable games at Hilton was during the 2014-2015 season when they made one of the most miraculous comebacks in Iowa State history. The Cyclones were trailing by 21 points to Oklahoma in the second half, after an unbelievable comeback, Iowa state beat Oklahoma 77-70 in Hilton Coliseum. The 21-point-comeback tied the largest comeback in Iowa State history.
So, yes, I do believe in Hilton Magic, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the talent and passion of the players and coaches.