March Madness Needs Its One True King

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If you ain’t tuning into “March Madness” this week, congratulations for not buying the hype.

Because unless you filled out a bracket with some cash involved, there really isn’t a reason to pay attention to a sport that jumped the shark during the Clinton administration. Network executives and the carnival barkers who shill the sport would disagree, until they lose television rights. After which they do what basically ninety eight percent of the population does; they ignore it. Don’t ask the student population because they only pay attention to college basketball if it A) Is attached to post-game drinking or B) Means they can ditch the books for a night.

If you were a fan of Game of Thrones, think of it this way. The zenith of the game was like the first six seasons of the show, but if you kept watching, you stayed too long.

Back when the sport was Rome, the names on the marquee meant everything. Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton were UCLA. Magic was Michigan State, Patrick Ewing was Georgetown, Jordan was UNC and Grant Hill was Duke. And then a kid from Lower Merion decided to jump right to the NBA, where he would become a star five minutes later. And while Kobe Bryant wasn’t the first high school kid to do it, his move set the tone for what was to come. Years later, LeBron James followed suit and if you don’t think the college game would be way more relevant today if he’d gone to Ohio State, then you ain’t been paying attention.

This ushered in the “One and Done” scenario, which was a ham handed effort by the NCAA to place age limits on players who wished to forego college and go straight to the NBA. Problem was, the best players used the gap year of college ball to polish up their brand for the next level with no designs on sticking around. And so now college programs are identifiable by their coaches, most of whom behave like used car salesmen . . for stolen cars.

Listen, it’s nice to think that amateurism would make for a nice change of pace, but if you take the stars out of a game . . any game, the appeal suffers. Ask the Cleveland Cavaliers about that. Or last year’s Patriots, or next year’s Saints. The fact that I can’t name a single college basketball player is a huge problem for a sport that professes to be about student athletes but is really a minor league system for the next level.

Which is why Imma be rooting for Gonzaga to win it all. The Bulldogs are 26-0 coming in to the tournament, and with six more W’s they’ll become the first team since Indiana to complete an undefeated season. If you’re scoring at home, that’s forty five years worth of nope to such hope.

If they lose, it won’t be an “upset” in spite of what the network shills would tell you. There are no real upsets in a sport made up of kids playing sudden death games, after all. But if Gonzaga makes it to the finals, I’ll actually tune into a college basketball game. It won’t bring relevancy to a sport that lost itself to progress, but it sure as hell will have people paying attention to something other than their money or their office bracket. And wouldn’t it be sweet irony for a sport that’s gotten suplexed by scandal and sneaker impresarios and player agents, to find perfection in an age when you can’t tell the players without Alexa?

Even Dick Vitale couldn’t screw that one up.

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “March Madness Needs Its One True King

  1. Suplexed by scandal is a definite term. I remember the massive excitement with everyone the best plays and the best players back in the day. It was super fun to watch. I remember chatting about this. I wa never a fan of them skipping college for various reasons. And I definitely think if these high school kids would have gone to any one of these schools it would have definitely changed the game, viewership, and The Madness, let alone give them a good education . But I tell you when this dude John Stockton busted out of Gonzaga and Gonzaga started being the “Cinderella” team because no one knew who they were I was like whoa. They had small schools break onto the scene before. Having an underdog is always a good thing with powerhouses like ACC, SEC, PAC-10 (before it was PAC-12). You may not be able to name names but you got the feeling of Gonzaga. Me? I don’t know I might pick up a game or two but I hear the virus knocked some teams out of the bracket before they even laced up their shoes. Different opponents this year and the fact that Pitino made it to the dance was interesting…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t forget Patrick Ewing winning the whatever conference title game it is called now. I think the Big East is gone, I dunno.

      But yeah, growing up in Queens in the eighties was pretty cool, what with St Johns being a really good squad with Mullins and Walter Berry. We’d see those dudes from time to time, it was great.

      As for Pitino in the dance again? I did not know that! I thought he had been booted out.

      One of these years a true Cinderella will actually win the whole thing. The closest we’ve come was when Butler almost knocked off Duke.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ewing!! My man. Hoyas and then Knicks. I think he got a chance to hang with slick Pat 🙂 dude just as I wrote that comment the next day I heard Pitino was fired and then the next day or maybe the same, not sure, was hired by New Mexico. Crazyyyyyyyyy.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the video of the 2Cellos, I am a big fan. I used to play sports when I was a child and I loved it. Until all the drama and hype got involved. Now sports all seems to be hyperbole. I am not a fan.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would love to see college sports pay their players. Not a fortune, or even a small fortune, but enough to provide some incentive for kids to stay in college, get their degree, and then move on to the professionals. I know, I know. That’s a pipe dream. The players who are going straight to the pros or who are in the “one and done” crowd wouldn’t even sniff at the kind of “salary” I’m talking about. But, I think that, in exchange for that pay, the players would have to commit to staying until they graduate.

    The quality of the game, oddly enough at both the college and NBA levels, has suffered over the last 20 years because of how this has all come about. Both levels desperately need to find a way to keep more kids in college for more years so that (a) the college game isn’t destroyed and players have more time to develop their skills; and (b) the NBA has players who are more fully formed — both as players and as human beings.

    This is all one of the biggest reasons why I barely watch college basketball anymore and my level of paying attention to the NBA is almost as bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so true, the one has affected the other. Time was, a kid was in with both feet for the four year hitch. And yes, he became a more well rounded player and most of the time, person, as a result of this. The one and done accomplished absolutely nothing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. B,

    You mean March Madness is not about shopping? Well hell and call me shocked! 😉

    All jokes aside. I think it’s a tragedy that kids be allowed to forego their education to play ball. It’s wrong on every single level. It’s great to get a scholarship because you have potential but that has to be only if you do your college. Crazy idea, I know.

    I absolutely love the 2 Cellos. Not to mention that they are not hard on the eyes as well as being ridiculously talented!

    As always, you get to the nitty gritty of these situations and share your sharp wit and insights in a delightful manner.

    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      You would be much better off just going shopping, MUCH better off. The games . . I can’t, I just can’t. I don’t know a single player!

      The problem with Kobe and LeBron skipping was that it kind of opened the floodgates. While those two were ready to take the leap from a talent perspective, they also had the brains to make dough in the event of an injury. Lots of kids jump without a safety net.

      I hadn’t noticed, 😉 But this rendition of GOT, it’s perfect.

      Delightful eh? Yeah, that’s me . . people come up to me ALL the time telling me how delightful I am. 😉

      B

      Liked by 1 person

      • Not so good on my wallet but hey…

        That’s the problem with precedents. It changes the fine order of things. And let’s face it, the Kobes and LeBrons are not the norm.

        No? Well, lemme tell you… 😉

        Hey. Long as one finds you so…

        Like

        • The problem with the Kobe and LBJ example is that every young athlete believes they are going to be that, that they are going to have that same success. And so the fine line of encouraging them also has to take into account some reality.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The problem is that the one and done was akin to finishing school for NBA prospects. There was no intent to lie about what the kids were there for. I mean, without a minor league system, college ball is the default.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Weirdly, it’s made me do an about face as to who I dig as far as coaches are concerned. It used to be that I liked Coach K of Duke because it was an academic school that somehow was able to win titles as well. Most of his guys went for four years too. And I used to dislike John Calipari who really looks the part of a used car salesman, and flaunts it.

            Now? Coach K is part of the one and done process he once railed on about. And that’s fine, excepting that he was so preachy once upon a time that it’s hard to take him seriously now.

            Coach Cal? He’s always been consistent. His kids are there to prep for the next level and he wants them to succeed financially. He ain’t lying about what he is.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I was reading your part about Coach K and was thinking that’s how it should be and then you dragged the needle across the record and brought me up short.
            Damn. Just like the preachers who are holier than thou…

            Like you said, not that it’s right, but at least Coach C is honest

            Liked by 1 person

          • Don’t get me wrong, Coach K is an all timer who has done so much good for the sport and his kids. It’s just, chill with the proclamations seeing as how they usually come back to bite.

            Coach Cal ain’t a liar, I’ll give him that.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I hear ya. Just sucks to, maybe not negate, but diminish, what he has done by joining on the bandwagon now. Especially after such proclamations.

            Ya gotta.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the 2 cellos. Interesting how my interest in March Madness has waned. Not that I’ve lost interest, it’s more like keeping one eye on it. Love catching the last minute of a game with the underdog ahead. But what the heck – hoping for Gonzaga, too.

    BTW – over 12,000 players in the transfer portal this year. That’s over 4 per team. Bearcats have lost 6 to the portal – and given graduation, they currently have a roster of 4. Time for a Bushwacker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welp, if you tune in for the final minute of a college basketball game, it lasts almost as long as the first thirty nine minutes, what with all the timeouts and commercial breaks.

      But yeah, Gonzaga or bust. Georgetown wouldn’t be a bad fallback either, but what are the chances?

      Yeah really!

      Like

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