Month: April 2015

NBA Play-off Reflections

BLOOD BATH IN BOSTON

The newfangled Cavs dispatched the upstart Celtics 4-0. The first three games of the series observed a somewhat similar pattern with the Cavs possessing too much talent to lose, and the Celtics too much Brad Stevens and general resilience to get blown out. It was harmless entertainment.

On Sunday, all hell broke loose. In the middle of the first quarter, a loose ball made it’s way to the sideline with Kevin Love and Kelly Olynyk in pedestrian pursuit. Love held a mildly advantageous position, and Olynyk countered with an arm bar. Love’s should separated from its socket, and he ran immediately to the locker room with the Cav’s training staff closely behind.

The rest of this particular incident is open to interpretation. I do not think Olynyk intentionally injured Love, but he exercised reckless judgment in bringing about the injury. The arm bar is not uncommon under the basket, but this far from the basket with large, and awkward big men moving at speed it was a bad decision resulting in a worse result. Love will likely miss two weeks at the very least, and this could very well be enough of a burden to tip a series against the Cavs.

Later in the game, Kendrick Perkins was inserted for non-basketball purposes. 37 seconds later, he set a screen on Jae Crowder 40 feet from the basket, and in doing so raised his arms and knocked Crowder to the floor inciting a brief brouhaha. The Cavs were firmly in command of the game and the series. It was a malicious and pointless play from a malicious, pointless, and at this point, incompetent player. Fuck PERK!

The final act of blood was crafted by the Jackass known as JR Smith. Crowder aggressively rushed into the back of Smith during a rebounding situation, again with the Cavs in command of the game and series, and Smith back handed him in the face causing Crowder to take an incredibly awkward and injurious fall. Smith was ejected for stupidity as much as anything, and the episode fits nicely into the narrative of his bullshit-intensive career.

As a final note, David Stern pursued an initiative to have players arrive at the arena looking somewhat professional. I would encourage Adam Silver to pursue a similar initiative with regard to the appearance of Anderson Varajao, who’s bizarro mustache and pseudo-afro are patently offensive to any standards of professionalism outside those of being an extra during a Scarface club scene.

Cavs prevailed, but at significant cost.

WASHINGTON WIZARDRY

For the second year in a row, the Wizards have breezed through the first round behind John Wall and an impressive starting five. Again though it is tough to assess the significance of this accomplishment. Last year, Washington started well against a fading Pacers team, but crumbled under the crucible of genuine play-off pressure.

This year, they toppled a fading Drakes team, and are poised to face the winner of the Atlanta/Brooklyn series. The Wizards played unevenly throughout the second half of the season, but Paul Pierce makes this a dangerous team this time of year. He has already fired shots at the Nets, and critically-acclaimed Atlanta does not have much of a pedigree, and is struggling with the dreadful Nets. Things have lined up nicely.

JASON KIDD IS PRETTY DAMN COOL

The Bulls will win this series. They are better than the Bucks and this is a fact of life.

Jimmy Butler has been fantastic as a two-way terror, and really looks like a guy that you would love to have on your team. Derrick Rose has played his best basketball of the season (excepting of course the final 3 seconds of game four). I am saddened that Joakim Noah is not healthy enough to provide us with his particular brand of basketball.

On the other side, the Greek Freak has struggled. He is lost offensively and is not playing in the moment. MCW has struggled in much the same way. Game four was saved by a veteran bench unit, and the timely genius of Jason Kidd.

Kidd has long been one of my favorite players, and possesses a unique instinct for the game of basketball. I remember reading a profile many years ago that noted Kidd’s propensity to answer questions before they are asked, and complete sentences for other people. It spoke to a man, who does not just live in the moment, but lives a moment before the moment, and that was evident on the closing seconds as Kidd called a timeout immediately upon Derrick Rose turning the ball over preserving 1.3 seconds for a game-winning side out of bounds play.

While there is some question as to how much of the x’s and o’s Kidd is responsible for, the play was genius and perfectly executed causing me to scream out loud and leap out of my seat.

ATLANTA V. BROOKLYN (GOOD v. EVIL)

This series has been an abomination. The Hawks have been a joy to watch all season, and the Nets, an eyesore on par with a prison camp photo book. If good were truly good, the Hawks would whip the ball around the court and bludgeon Brooklyn with ball movement and shooting. We would celebrate Atlanta and do our best to forget Brooklyn even made the play-offs.

But good is not always good, and the Nets trail 2-1 after three uncomfortably competitive games that have raised questions about the Hawks ability to reach the conference finals, let alone the actual finals, while simultaneously doing nothing to improve the heroine house depression scale of the Nets.

RONDO’S LAST RIDE

The Rockets lead 3-1. Rajon Rondo has been essentially cut mid-series by the Mavs, and Dwight Howard has added to his odd resume the persona of “Play-off Dwight”, a player capable of turning back his personal odometer three or four seasons during the first round of the play-offs.

Last nights, Mavs win was really a back-handed reach around on the whole Rondo deal. Pre-Rondo, Dallas was a fun offensive machine with optional defense, and that’s exactly what they returned to in game four. It is not enough to win the title, and probably not even the series, but it makes Dallas a likeable play-off entrant that somehow feels as though they might only be a player or two away from genuine contention. Post-Rondo, they were an unpleasant, underachieving mass of dysfunction incapable of winning this series or even drawing out the inherently unlikeable qualities of the Rockets (which is no small accomplishment).

Here’s to the Mavs recapturing their flawed essence, and making the Rockets life miserable.

GOLDEN STATE

Anthony Davis was very good in his play-off debut. He confirmed his bonafides as a future MVP, but it was equally apparent that Monty Williams and much of the present Pelicans roster should not be along for the ride. Williams was overmatched at every turn, and team had no identity. Davis varied skill set asks legitimate questions as to what type of team should be built around him for maximum impact, but his career will ultimately be defined by the organizations ability to do so.

The Warriors cruised through three of the four games, but the fourth game is undoubtedly the most important. The Warriors trailed by 20 in the fourth quarter, and Curry was having a tough shooting night. It would have been no problem to have conceded the game, and won the series in five, but Golden State has been special, even historic all year, and this was the latest example. They did not concede. They kept playing, got some stops, hit some shots, and got it close. The Pelicans froze.

All accomplishment begins in the mind with the simple thought….”I believe I can”. That simple thought unlocks the powers of possibility and creativity. The Warriors believed they could, and they found a way to do it.

GRINDHOUSE RULES

The Grizz are the embodiment of play-off basketball. They are tough-minded and quirky enough to thrive in the cauldron of late Spring. The Blazers are a battered chick that can’t find a shelter fast enough.

On a personal note, it was great to see Nick Calathes play so well in game three. I have been watching Calathes play basketball since he was in middle school. He is a resourceful, team-oriented player, who has endured a trying and circuitous route to NBA success.

SPURS/CLIPPERS

This is a series too good for the first round. The Clippers are an immensely talented, but mentally fickle team, while the defending champions are a battle-hardened amorphouse machine showing signs of age. The series is tied 2-2, and it sickens me to think either one of these teams will not be playing next week. Nothing can change that fact so it is best that we do our best to enjoy the remaining 2-3 games of the series as these diametrically opposed teams fight to stave off ignominious elimination.

Final thought, Austin Rivers has become a much-maligned punchline throughout the league and social media. I have watched him play since middle school as well, and was thrilled for him to play such a prominent role in the Clippers game four win. I recognize that his game has significant holes, and that he has struggled to find a meaningful role in the league. It is improbable that he will fully realize the career of a lottery pick, or of being the best 7th grader in the country so many years ago, but I have listened to the things people said to him in high school and during AAU, I have observed the respect he affords those he speaks with, me included, and I have watched him on the floor by himself at Rollins getting shots up, working on his craft. He has never hid from a challenge on the court or created a problem for himself off the court, and for those things he has and will fully realize my respect.

Craig Pickering’s Humorous Take on SPEED

This is lifted from Craigpickering.com, and I loved it so much I had to share it unedited beyond my intro.

“I used to be a very highly-strung professional athlete. I took myself and my sport pretty seriously. I once spent 10 minutes arguing furiously with an official at the side of a track because he told me my blocks hadn’t slipped (they had). Once in a fit of rage at being stuck in traffic, I actually bit my steering wheel. I’m a much better person these days; years of pressure management techniques from sports psychologists have calmed me down. I practice mindfulness, meditate, and do yoga. If someone cuts me up on the road, I breathe deeply and carry on. I am, as my girlfriend would say, zen.

However, last night something awoke the beast within me. Something which caused me to use language that would make Malcolm Tucker blush. It was, of course, this article from the Mirror.

“The Arsenal Player OFFICIALLY Faster Than Bolt” (emphasis mine) the headline exclaimed. I mean, Jesus Christ. I understand that journalists and editors are under time pressure, and often have to write about things they might not fully understand. It’s a hard life, I’m sure. I’m here to help.

The article goes on to explain that Hector Bellerin, the young Arsenal right-back, had recently broken Arsenals 40m sprint record, clocking a time of 4.42 second. It then states that, during his World Record run, Usain Bolt “only” clocked 4.64 seconds to 40m. Therefore, and I quote, “halfway down the track, Bellerin could have been a good few metres in front”. Want another quote? “… there it is in black and white – over 40 metres, Arsenal’s right back would win.”

First of all, let’s examine the logical fallacy of this headline/story. Is it likely that a young footballer, who has to practise a wide range of skills, including actually kicking a football, as well as tactical and other fitness demands, could be faster than someone whose job it is to just focus on covering distances of 200m or less in as short a time as possible? That someone with almost perfect genetics, who spends 6 days per week honing his unbelievable talent, would be beaten over 40m by someone who does a bit of sprint training? That the fastest person by almost a country mile to ever walk this planet is not as good at HIS job as a Spanish under-21 international footballer?

Clearly, it’s stupid.

Then lets examine the facts of the case. “Arsenal Player OFFICIALLY Faster Than Bolt” (again, emphasis mine). Presumably this is IAAF ratified then? There was a wind gauge? Electronic blocks were used to measure reaction time? The IAAF have sent someone to measure the track? There was an official starter, with gun and electronic timing. Has anyone seen the photo finish to ensure it was accurate?

Of course, one thing that people writing these articles always forget is that, in a 100m race, there is a reaction time component. The gun fires, which starts the clock. The athletes then have to react to the sound of the gun. This can take anywhere between 0.1 and 0.2 seconds, but is usually in the region of 0.15 seconds. In his World Record run, Bolt’s reaction time was 0.164 seconds. Let’s add this on to Bellerin’s time of 4.42, and we get 4.58. Still faster than Bolt, but much less so.

Then let’s consider the starting method. I have no idea how Bellerin was timed, but I would wager it is one of two ways:

  • Hand timed
  • Timing Gates.

If it’s the former, then that is an incredibly inaccurate way to measure sprint speed. Over 100m, it can be as inaccurate as 0.5 seconds, and it is routine to add on 0.24s to any hand-timed performance to convert to electronic timing. If timing gates were used, then did Bellerin have a rolling start? This doesn’t have to be over much distance at all – even a slight backwards lean would give him more forward momentum than Bolt is allowed from the starting blocks, and would skew the time significantly in his favour.

Let’s assume that electronic timing gates were used, and Bellerin went from a standing start. In a sprint race, a photo finish is used to calculate the finish time. The point at which the athletes chest crosses the finish line is where the time is taken from. Using electronic timing gates, once a laser beam is broken, BY ANY PART OF THE BODY, then the time stops. So, for example, an arm could be outstretched to break the beam, which would give a quicker time.

“But Bolt’s a slow starter” I hear you exclaim. In his World Record run, Bolt was winning the World Championships by 0.04s at 40m. At 60m, he clocked what I’m pretty sure is the fastest 60m time ever recorded. So don’t start that with me.

Hopefully you can see that there are some significant problems within this article, and the many others like it. I’m sure Bellerin is fast, but to say he is officially faster than Bolt, whose job it is to be incredibly fast, is, quite frankly, a pot of crap. Please, when reading/writing/editing articles like this, think logically. And if you use the word official, make sure it is official.”

Hood Legend Juan Bernal Enjoys His 6th Final Four

Six Final Fours down, but this one was special in many different ways.  At this point, I’m no longer a newbie and a giddy little ranger when it comes to going to the Final Four, I am familiar with many situations and have seen and heard just about everything that goes on.  This 2015 Final Four also marked more changes in many more ways than one.  I was there for new reasons (to hand out cards for scouting service and upcoming pro basketball expo) and found that this was the first time I actually hadn’t run into as many people I was expecting to run into because of the evolution of technology.  Either way, my 2nd go around in Indianapolis for a Final Four weekend bought many new sets of experiences.

Thursday:

Was just glad to make it to Indianapolis.  Allegiant’s pilots had planned to go on strike so there was no telling what was going to happen.  Fortunately, the flight went without a hitch, even though I mentioned to my mom and dad if Allegiant’s pilot decided to pull a Berlin or a 9/11 that it had been real (I only say this half exaggeratingly, jokingly, whatever you want to call it; more on this later).  Anyways, I get to the lobby of the Crown Plaza hotel by the airport in Indianapolis after running into a few people at the airport, and see that there are THREE high major Division I head coaches that are staying at my hotel.  In Indy, which was the most organized and logistically convenient Final Four I have ever been to, it kind of struck me as odd because all of the big swinging dicks were supposed to be downtown in the mix, and the airport hotels were reserved for GA’s, high school and JUCO coaches and the rest of the other schmucks.  Anyway, I spend three hours getting work accomplished, which is something I am very proud of before the crew of people I am staying with.  This year it consisted of only my high school coach and his assistant coach, which is a record low number of people.  My first final four, we went 9 to a room in the Radisson across the street.  Here I am in 2015 getting an own king bed to myself with the only price I have to pay for it is making sure I do some legwork on tickets and research (more on this later).  The crew leaves to go downtown and I stay behind the hotel and watch the first 3 games of the High school national tournament, which featured Montverde, Huntington Prep, Findlay Prep, Ely and Oak Hill Academy, as well as three other teams.  After some exercise, and a nap (marathon, not a sprint), I finally head downtown around 7:30 PM.  I spend the rest of the night watching the games at OTB (which is the famed horse-racing joint most of the people I make a habit of hanging down at the Final Four frequent while in Indy, working a couple of hotel lobbies and socializing.  As Thursday night turns into Friday morning, I end up driving the extended crew (a mixture of college assistants, college head coaches and high school coaches) back to the hotel, which included a $97 tab at WhiteCastle (which I consumed exactly $0 of.  When being the only sober person, if you’re giving the option of uncontrollable hunger for 24 hours or Whitecastle, don’t choose the latter.  You’ll regret it), pissing into the street off the third floor of parking garages and leaving the van like it was a fraternity house.

Friday:

Friday morning, my HS coach and I made our way down to the convention, where I spent about five hours.  Took a picture with the legendary Bill Walton, ran into some old friends, made some new contacts and watched Ed Cooley speak about the Providence transition offense.  Overall, it was a good experience.  It’s really the reason to come out here, and it’s good to show your face.  Because everyone texts now (even the old coaches, the importance of face to face interaction isn’t what it used to be, and there are a lot of people I don’t even see or realize are in town because of it) and working a lobby isn’t what it used to be either.  In 2010 and 2011, you would see EVERYONE in the lobby.  I can count the number of people I ran into in the lobby on one hand this year that I actually knew.  Everyone else I ran into was on the street or in unintentional places.  After the convention, I head back to the hotel and pound another nap while the extended crew was courtside at the Pacers game.  Nap turned out to be much needed.  After downtown, I head to the Hyatt lobby, talk to a few people, go get something to eat and then head over to Broad Ripple, about 15 minutes from downtown, where the crew ends up at a restaurant.  I drive the van, and everyone in that extended crew, which has a couple of changes and additions.  A portion of that extended crew, which includes 2 gazilionaires, a high school coach, 2 HS assistant coaches and a college assistant all head to Rick’s Cabaret for awhile.  I’m not a fan of titty bars because 1. It was Good Friday and 2.  They’re the biggest dry-sucking tease.  When you wake up the morning after, what benefit did the strip club give you? You got some titties in your face? Well they win, they got $1000 of your money.  Case closed.

The night only gets one of the gazillionaires gets bounced early from the establishment and proceeds to make his way to the car.  He has no idea where he is staying, so I immediately had to go into problem solving mode during the Taco Bell drive thru.  After he orders 1000 tacos (The Taco Bell attendant and I settled on 17 as a good number), I go thru his phone and figure out the address.  After 45 minutes, I basically pull him out of the car and he forces his way to the door.  17 seconds later after decompressing from that last two hours of craziness, I hear a gunshot headed in my direction…….

Fortunately it wasn’t a gunshot.  It was the gazillionaire breaking a window to get into where he was staying.  I pull off like I’m the perpetrator of the drive by and head back to Rick’s.  Half of the remaining crew gets picked up, and the other 2 head back to where they are staying with a couple of the entertainers from the establishment, where I heard they crashed in a room full of broken glass.  In the meantime, I ended up at a completely different hotel and was so exhausted at 4:30 AM that I ended up crashing there.  Two of the crew members were so hung over from a combination of debauchery, Whitecastle and titties, that they couldn’t even leave the hotel room the next day.

Saturday:

I wake up around 10 and head back to the hotel.  You couldn’t beat the first two nights from an entertainment perspective.  It included more debauchery that would have made girls looking to give blowjobs on Spring Break jealous (for first-time readers, there goes my mandatory blowjob reference).  After getting back to the hotel, I had one job, get rid of tickets.  For fear of having some of my comrades losing their NABC licenses, I won’t disclose any further details on how tickets were sold.  All I will say is that it was an adventure, but if you could pull of what I did, there’s a place for you in the Street Mafia.  I’ll call the actual transaction paying rent.  I head downtown about an hour before the semifinals begin after getting some food.  I headed down there with only one of the crew members.  Everyone else from the crew was so hungover from the debauchery that most of them didn’t leave their hotel rooms/hostels for the remainder of the day.  If that’s not your PSA to not indulge yourself in too much alcohol (or stay away completely) or to stay away from Whitecastle or any other fast food joints after 1 AM, you’re asking a part of yourself to risk early death.  After paying rent, I head over to OTB again and watch the rest of the first game (side note: A part of me is doing something right, because they asked me for ID almost everywhere I went in Indiana.  I usually mean mug and give people the “Bitch do I look underage face, and that normally suffices, but that wasn’t the case this time, or any time in Indiana) After OTB, I head back to the hotel for the 2nd game and reconvene with the crew for part of the game, and then meet another crew consisting of young college assistant coaches and watch the Kentucky game.  After watching Wisconsin pull the shocker, we head back downtown for the Saturday night activities.  While leaving, since the hotel I was staying at was the UK “fan hotel,” I saw the exodus beginning from the UK fans.  Downtown was an adventure.  We hit some different bars, saw more than a few happy Wisconsin fans, spent 30 minutes in an incompetent Steak and Shake drive thru and called it a night around 4 AM.

Sunday:

10 AM on Easter Sunday came early, and for the first time the whole trip I got into a semblance of a routine.  I felt really bad about not being with my mom and dad and going to church, but this post wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t been in Indy. After a workout, and after watching most of the crew leave, it was just Matt Hixenbaugh and I.  We head downtown, go to Kilroy’s where I indulge in Indiana’s greatest breadsticks (Thanks Trip, that was the only meal I ate all day, and it was soooooo good.), and sweet tea (gave it up for Lent).  After doing some walking around Indy, I head to the Hyatt and lobby it up for awhile.  At 5:30 I meet Hagerty assistant, friend of the blog and greatest Kentucky fan alive, Wes Below.  His cousin, him and I go to the Pacers vs. Miami game which features the return of Paul George.  I have always liked Paul George since his days at Fresno State, and is one of my 5 favorite non Pedro’s Posse players in the league (For the record Rondo, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Marc Gasol, Lillard) and was excited, yet scared about his return.  With about 5 minutes left, Paul checks in, and it’s like he never left.  He hits his first shot, an off balance runner against the shot clock and scores 6 more points in the first half.  He comes back in the 2nd half and finished the game with 13 points.  The Pacers ran away with a 112-85 win over a Miami team that was playing its second game in less than 24 hours.  They never made much of an effort in the 2nd half, and you couldn’t tell they were fighting for their playoff lives.  Wade played well, but showed fatigue for much of the 2nd half, and you could tell they clearly missed Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh.  I don’t expect Miami to put up much of a fight in the playoffs (Wade will lead them to 1, maybe 2 wins against Atlanta if they make it there, but they just can’t score it consistently and don’t have much of an interior offensive threat) I would like to see this Indiana team make it to the 8th spot and see if they could challenge Atlanta.  After the game, we head to a bar for about an hour, where things quickly get out of control with drinks (theme of this trip).  After the bar, I head back to the hotel, where I spend the rest of the night in peace for the first time this trip.

Monday:

Championship Monday is one of those proverbial calm before the storm type of days.  After working out and switching hotels, I meet Tom Klusman, the Roliins head coach at Subway along with former Rollins player Caleb Springer.  We talk about the state of the program, and then walk around the streets of Indianapolis.  I break off at about 4 PM and head to the Fan Fest, which is a family event where people participate in all sorts of activities.  It’s like the NCAA version of a theme park for the Final Four, and it’s just fun to walk around, people watch and maybe get an autograph or 2.  At about 6 PM, I walk around Indy to solicit a ticket for the game, since everyone I know sold their tickets.  Tickets are going for around $400, which isn’t surprising given the number of Wisconsin fans in the streets.  Indianapolis might as well have been Madison south for the day, as it was literally covered in a sea of red.  After parting to the mall, I go eat and then run into 2 UCF GA’s who have tickets to the game, and mentioned that someone else is trying to sell their Flash Ticket.  I immediately agree to but it for what turned out to be the best deal in Indianapolis and I chill at the Hyatt before heading to the stadium for the game.  I get to Lucas Oil at about 9:05 PM, 13 minutes before tip-off and settle into my seat.  It is about 80-20 Wisconsin fans, and I have really good seats in back of the basket, just over the stanchion where you have a clear view of all the action.  The game turned out to be one of those games you will remember you were at in 60 years, as Duke took their first national title in five years with a 68-63 over Wisconsin.  The Duke celebration was witnessed by about 20% of the stadium, and I stick around to watch One Shining Moment, which is the greatest 3 minute video compilation in the World.  I also was happy for Jacksonville’s Grayson Allen, who was the MVP of the game, as he represented Florida well.  Another interesting part came in the 2nd media timeout of the 2nd half, where the Hall of Fame class of 2015 was introduced.  Kentucky coach John Calipari was hastily booed in embarrassing fashion.  I’m not a big Calipari fan, I think he is a great salesman, a very average coach who can only succeed in college, but I respect what he has done for the game of basketball.  There is a saying that says “Don’t hate the player, hate the game,” and the Calipari situation to me is just an example of that.  I’m not a fan of the 1 and Done rule from college to the NBA, but at least he is transparent and uses the system for what it is.  I am a huge fan of Bo Ryan, I think he is a great coach and does the most with the least every year, but his comments about “renting a player” rubbed me the wrong way, because college basketball is “renting a player,” whether it’s for one year, two years or four.  It’s cyclical and nature and I just thought it was a salty way to go about losing what turned out to be an epic national championship game.

Tuesday:

Flight was delayed for three hours, and got back to Orlando around 5 PM.  Overall, Indianapolis was a solid experience.  I have learned to never take these experiences for granted.  Every year from now on will likely be a repeat experience of what I have already experienced.  Next year it will be Houston, and 2019 it will be in Indianapolis again.  In between will be new and exciting experiences, 2017 in Phoenix and 2018 in San Antonio.  Looking forward to it, and hope you enjoyed this Final Four blog version of debauchery and analysis.

Final (Four) Thoughts

ONE AND DONE

I fundamentally disagree with the concept of one and done.  Players should be allowed to enter the league directly from high school.  It is an artificial contrivance of the league and the NCAA that forces players to spend a year on a college campus playing basketball for free.  The NBA game is fundamentally different than the college game, and given the time constraints on practice time does not always provide the best training to succeed as a professional.

Players will develop and shine like KG, Kobe and Lebron, and players will fail like Lenny Cooke and Korleone Young.  This is unavoidable, and is not appreciably impacted by attending college.  Several players who could be regarded as flops in basketball terms, like Jonathon Bender and Dasagna Diop, stayed in the league for several years and earned far more money than I have practicing law over the last 19 years.

If the NBA is concerned about players, contracts for straight from high school and/or early college entrants could include monies held in trust for the cost of a college education thus protecting the scholarship they are foregoing to play professionally.

If the NBA is concerned about it’s misjudgment of talent, it can help protect itself through the development of the D-League, and salary cap exceptions for players that are either not on or partially on the NBA roster during the course of the season.

That said, the current rules provide for one and done in college basketball, and unless you have the authority or fortitude to change the rule….stop bitching about it.  John Calipari was the first to embrace the rule and recruit NBA-ready players with the full understanding that they would play for the Wildcats for one year before moving on to the professional ranks.  With the candor of that understanding, Coach Cal has been able to build a program where there is strong evidence that the one and done players have had a positive and meaningful experience during there one season in Lexington, and continued to enjoy a relationship with the institution.

Duke won the title last night with two or three one and done players, and it was a joy to watch.  The team, like Coach Cal’s Kentucky, played unselfishly and together throughout their run.  Coach K spoke glowingly of the team, and his conscious decision to target and invest deeply in the lives of these players that would only wear Blue for a single season.  The authenticity of the relationship and joy of the experience was evident on the podium.

Value is qualitative, not quantitative.  Life is defined not by daily breathing, but by the moments that take our breath away.  With honesty toward each other one and done players and teams can build relationships and memories that will serve everyone involved, and should not be dismissed as rented players, corruption personified or any other negative bullshit.

BO RYAN

I genuinely enjoyed this Wisconsin team.  They were very talented, played loose and competitively with an inspiring espirit de corps.  I would not have been disappointed if they won the title, and given my long history of hatred toward all things Big 10 and midwestern, this was no small accomplishment.  I agree that they were on the wrong side of several bad calls during the final, but I found Bo Ryan’s post-game demeanor unsavory.

Ryan made vague reference to the game being played a particular way, lashed out against rented players, and rattled off statistics attesting to the quality of his team.  He certainly said several other things in praise of his praise-worthy team, and with which I have no qualm, but it was bizarre and bitter.

Sports is about winning.  We, as bystanders, will not worry ourselves with the legacy of 38-1 Kentucky or runner up Wisconsin a year or even six months from now.  We, as bystanders, move on with Duke as our champion until next March.  Ryan would have been better served praising his team, reveling in the journey that took them to Monday night and reflecting on the moments of time they shared on that journey that we, as bystanders, never got more than a glimpse because it is the unseen moments of coach and team that will endure with the Badgers through time.

KENTUCKY

In the final five minutes of a game they led by four points, their offense floundered and they got beat.  They lost to an excellent opponent that returned largely intact from losing to the Cats at the same juncture of the tournament last year, and badly wanted revenge.  History will not reward this team for their season.  It just doesn’t work that way.

It does not mean their is anything wrong with Kentucky or the way they go about building teams.  College basketball featured three, and with the inclusion of Arizona, four exceptional teams capable of beating each other on any given night.  It is not time to overreact.  When the teams are so balanced, games turn on the margins and details, and sometimes simple luck.

MICHIGAN STATE

The Spartans did themselves proud in reaching the Final Four, but were badly outclassed in Indianapolis.  Sometimes the best you can do is to squeeze everything you can from yourselves and accept the result.