I would like to dedicate last weekend's tremendous college basketball games to Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O'Neal, LeBron James, Kuwame Brown, and all the other NBA players who skipped school to go straight to the pros.
I completely understand financial hardships and all the motivation to turn pro early, but after watching the games last weekend it just seems like no amount of money can compensate for missing the Tournament. My only hope is your respective teams are having Tournament parties and you feel left out. Hell, even Stephan Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway and Carmelo Anthony went to college for one year! Here's hoping that the final three games are all better than the previous 4!
Speaking of which, here are some thoughts on what has already been a magnificent tournament:
- Seems to me, the big loser in this year's Final Four is Kansas coach, Bill Self. Here's a guy who recruited all the players on top-ranked Illinois, and then jumped ship to coach Kansas. Now he has the pleasure of watching his former team, led by the very Gump-like Bruce Weber, battle it out in the Final Four. In fact, he probably watched every minute of the Illinois games, since a very bad Bucknell team sent him packing in the first round. Illinois looks so good, and has such heart, it doesn't make any sense that a coach would leave that program.
- While we're on the subject, I'm still going with Illinois. Even though they obviously have the least-experienced coach, and everyone is in love again with T to the Izzo, I had them on my otherwise decimated bracket, so there's no reason to jump ship now. That comeback against Arizona now displaces the heartbreak of Pete Eisenreich and Santa Clara for Wildcat fans.
- Here, I'll go first, "To the Big Ten Conference... I apologize." See how easy that was? I will say this about the Big 10: I formed my opinion of you being a weak conference after watching Illinois go to Wisconsin and to Michigan State and blow out those teams. I thus concluded that Illinois was the only good Big 10 team. Therefore, if they blew those teams out (one who made it to the Final Four, the other to the Elite Eight), does that mean Illinois has been underrated, having carried around the "they play in a weak conference" stigma?
- Before the ACC Tournament, I was (like many) prepared to pick Wake Forest to go deep. The only reason I didn't was because superstar point guard, Chris Paul, gave NC State's Julius Hodge a shot to the scroat. So I'm glad to see they didn't make it far.
- Are there any photos circulating around of Duke players after they lost? I'd kill for an image of a dejected Shelden Williams, J.J. Redick, or Billy Packer.
- Seems like this is a good year for Michigan basketball, first the Pistons win, now Michigan State makes it to the Final Four, and the Michigan State women's team is a win over Stanford away from making the Final Four themselves. Too bad Michigan's basketball team couldn't contribute.
My new Hero in the NBA is Laker point guard, Chucky Atkins. Yesterday, after being asked what the team needs to do from a management perspective to pull them out of their current slump he said, "I ain't the GM of this team, Kobe's the GM of this team. Ask Kobe. You've been watching this [stuff] all year. You've been watching it and I've been playing it."
This is great for two reasons. First, because he called Kobe out, basically saying 'this is the team you wanted, take some responsibility.' Secondly, everyone who's locked horns with Kobe in the past has been promptly shown the door, so if he's lucky he won't have to play for a sinking ship anymore.
As much as I've hated the Lakers, going back to the Bird/Magic Era, my heart goes out to their fans. It's clear now, if Kobe and Shaq could have gotten along they just might have won another 3 (more?) championships, possibly surpassing the Laker accomplishments of the 80's. It's tragic a team that good had to split up due to egos (on all sides). Look on the bright side, though, Celtics fans all sit and wonder how good the 80's team would have been if Len Bias didn't go all Tony Montana after the draft. At least you get to watch Shaq still play.
Today, TK said he favorite player on The White Shadow was Coolidge. Coolidge? -What about Salami?!
Maybe it was because he was sitting next to Mark McGwire, but Damn! does he look good there! I'm sure we all made the joke already, but Rafie had to be clear he was talking about steroids when he testified he has never taken performance enhancing drugs. Otherwise, he'd immediately get slapped with a perjury charge.