Today is the anniversary of the last time the Michigan State Spartan men’s basketball team captured the NCAA championship. Tom Izzo was the coach back then also with a team led by rising stars and eventual NBA players Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson and Jason Richardson.
That year the Spartans had their eye on the prize since they were so close in 1999, losing to Duke in the National Semifinals. The way the brackets were set up it seemed like the two schools would be on a collision course during the Final Four again. But then Florida entered the picture and upset Duke in the Regional Semifinals and played inspired ball that lead them to the National Championship game. But even if they wouldn’t get their revenge on the Blue Devils the Spartans could beat the team that took them out.
For that Championship game many of the Michigan State players laced up Reebok Questions. Although they wore other models and colorways during the season, the green-toed version was the choice for many during the most important game of their lives. Mateen Cleaves led the Spartans as he did most of the year and, just as they did during most of the tournament, they came out strong taking it to the Gators. They won by double digits like every game in the tournament even with Cleaves suffering an ankle injury in the second half. But he came back and was there to help the Spartans celebrate winning the championship.
He was already one of the most popular players in the school’s history but he was almost brought to Magic Johnson status by winning the big one. Sadly this would be the peak of Cleave’s career as he dealt with personal problems and off-court issues during his time in the NBA. But no one could deny that Cleaves was the man in 2000 and really during his entire time in college.
It was also great timing for Reebok as that was their last season sponsoring the Spartans. Nike became the official apparel partner of the college and still are to this day. As the current Michigan State team is vying for another championship this year, Reebok is enjoying stealing a bit of the spotlight during the Final Four. Reebok is acknowledging that special 2000 team as the “Michigan State” Question has been made for the masses and is for sale today at Reebok Classic retailers. 15 years ago Michigan State and Reebok won the men’s NCAA Championship and looked good doing it.