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The Final Four run 19 years in the making

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A program was built out of nothing, and a new golden standard was set.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional-Gonzaga vs Xavier Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Gonzaga Bulldogs burst onto the collective scene of the basketball world in 1999, there has been some magic brewing in Spokane. But constantly, over and over again, the magic always stopped short of where it needed to.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, the owners of a 19 years and running NCAA Tournament streak, had never made the Final Four, despite a few opportunities. But the thing is, those opportunities are hard to fight and hard to win.

For all of the Gonzaga greats from years before: Ronny Turiaf, Blake Stepp, Dan Dickau, Kyle Bankhead, Richie Frahm, Matt Santagelo, Matt Bouldin, Winston Brooks, Kyle Bankhead, Cory Violette, Zach Gourde, Richard Fox, and Casey Calvary, this year is for you.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have been the top team in the nation for much of the year. And yet, the hatred for the squad rained down from the cloudy storm of the Internet like absolute hellfire this season. Never has a team been so overrated, never has a team not deserved the hype. Never this and never that.

For all of the Gonzaga greats from years before: Austin Daye, Big Rob Sacre, David Pendagraft, Ira Brown, Steven Gray, J.P. Batista, Adam Morrison, Sean Mallon, Derek Raivio, Tony Skinner, Erroll Knight, this year is for you.

The Zags hit the No. 1 seed. The Zags were the most overrated No. 1 seed in the history of No. 1 seeds. The Zags took down South Dakota State, held off a furious Northwestern rally, and engaged in criminal activities against West Virginia. The NCAA Tournament had been a long slog so far, and it wasn’t until tonight that it all came together, unfortunately, at the expense of Xavier. The Zags finally punched their ticket.

For all of the Gonzaga greats from years before: Sam Dower, Demetri Goodson, Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, Josh Heytfelt, David Stockton, Mike Hart, Micah Downs, Kyle Dranginis, this year is for you.

The important thing to note is that a lot has to happen to make the Final Four. A lot has to go right. The Gonzaga Bulldogs program would not be where it was if not for all of those teams who came, tried their hardest, and fell short. Every player past and present is just as much a member of this Gonzaga Bulldogs squad and just as much of a key instrument of success for this squad.

For all of the Gonzaga greats from years before: Eric McClellan, Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., Jeremy Pargo, Blake Stepp, Jeremy Eaton, Quinton Hall, this year is for you.

I honestly never thought the day would come that I would type Gonzaga is going to the Final Four. Nineteen years is a long time to emotionally prepare for such an undertaking, and yet, when the moment comes, all of the planning goes out the window. Sports will do that to us. Gonzaga will do that to us.

This year’s squad has been one of the best in the nation. They have worked tirelessly to show they are one of the best in the nation. They have had the backs of some of the best fans in the nation, with some of the best alums in the nation. But as we celebrate the Gonzaga team of today, let’s take a second to remember the Gonzaga teams of the past as well. They deserve to be celebrated as well, because without them, we never make it this far.

For all the Gonzaga greats now: Nigel Williams-Goss, Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, Killian Tillie, Przemek Karnowski, Rui Hachimura, Johnathan Williams, Jordan Mathews, Zach Collins, Rem Bakamus, Bryan Alberts, Jeremy Jones, Ryan Edwards, Dustin Triano, Zach Norvell, Jack Beach, Jacob Larsen, this year is yours. Take it and don’t ever stop running with it.

Once a Zag, always a Zag.