A guest post from my 13 (!) year old cousin:
What's going through the mind of a champion (and Kobe when he drops more than 30 points)
What every underdog envisions in the tourney
So as I'm watching the second round games of the tourney and realizing how boring of a tournament this may turn out to be (and how so far, 37 out of my 48 picks have been correct), when something hit me: this year's amateur ballers striving to be the cream of the crop are going to be next year's NBA Draft picks - and the only true Cinderella this year is Arizona. But March Madness shouldn't be a time of "madness." In fact, I think it's just the opposite - until the Final Four anyway. It's when you spend your weekends watching over-hyped games - that either end with a conversial steal and dunk/lay-up by the best black guy in the game or that white guy who shoots 95.8% from the free throw line hitting 2 free throws in the "clutch" - while sipping down an ice tea, and checking your bracket every hour. While it may seem like an exciting display of basketball - much more interesting than the NBA - it's also a league of uncontrollable, extremely confused and usually lucky players and teams.
But what makes March Madness so special? TRADITION. March Madness was built on the success of UCLA, college basketball's Celtics, the amusement of watching the white guys at Duke who bust in the NBA, the coaches who just want to get their paycheck, the black guys from the Big East - oh and Dick Vitale hoarse throat. But most of all, it's the thrill of watching those with their backs to the wall beat those who owned the wall. It's about watching miraculous comebacks that you will never see in the NBA. The perfect example of this is Gonzaga against UCLA in '07 (I think it was in the Sweet 16). Down by about 16 or 18 points with 11 minutes to spare, UCLA was losing to Adam Morrison, who ends up seeing a picture of himself crying taped to his locker on his first day as a Laker (clever tricks by former-Bruins Ariza and Farmar). But Cedric Bozeman stole the ball, passed it up for a lay-up, and UCLA moved on. Even the greatest college player of all-time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar agreed to turning off his T.V. with three minutes left. It seemed hopeless. But in a classic defense vs. offense clash, Jordan Farmar and Afflalo led the Bruins to a victory. The ultimate comeback. A disciplined team against an offensive jugernaut. That's what basketball is all about.
Enough with the NCAA for now though. Believe it or not, the NBA season isn't over yet and there still is a heated MVP race between Kobe and Lebron, even though D Wade should make a run for it too. But as I was reflecting on the MVP candidates, I couldn't help but associate them with Shakespearean characters. Lebron James is the Julius Caesar of the NBA. Most call him "the king" and has hypnotized his "witnesses" in droves (ex. a regular two-handed lay-up, with no fancy tricks at all, get Lebron ay least top 3 finish on Sports Center). But Kobe, being the noble person he is, is Brutus. Well-respected and will go on to murder the king, but does it for the good of his republic (a.k.a. the Lakers) and not out of jealousy. D Wade is Marc Antony, often seen with and a close friend of Caesar, is not the most powerful in the kingdom but does find a way to deceive those around him in the end. And while we're making these strange comparison, Chris Paul is Octavius. Currently young and inexperienced but is a good work-in-progress and heir to the throne. Paul Pierce is Cassius, jealous of those above him and talks crap about them whenever he gets a chance. Verdict: Lebron will most likely win MVP, and when he does, you can bet Cleveland fans will start complaining about why he wasn't also awarded the Defensive Player of the Year honors (which KB24 should be a candidate for).
RECOGNITION from one of my heroes in sportswriting:
We're kind of on hold for the moment, since I"m trying to vacation and sort out some other stuff while sticking with my paid engagements. But some advice, from the FD perspective: It seems like there's like three different stories packed in here. I like your take on the Kobe/Bron/Wade axis, especially because it includes Paul. But I'd do it as several character studies that, while framed in terms of Shakespeaer, offer the characters as points of reference or comparisons, not X=Y.
I also think there's something to be said for the tradition/madness binary in the NCAA tournament, but doesn't the "tradition and excellence" part only sink in during the later rounds? The first week(end) is entirely nuts, and no one knows what's going on, and shit can seem largely random.
(ED NOTE: HOLLLARRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!)
Brief Music Alert: check out MSTRKRFT's new album, First of God. (I'll try to review that album on another post).
The Black Eyed Peas are back -yup, that group with the black people and Fergie have reunited. If you've been to an NBA game, you've probably heard "Let's Get It Started" - and thought nothing of it. But the 808s in their latest single, Boom Boom Pow, make for a unique song, to say the least. Will.i.am's creativity and clarity along with Taboo's articulation are probably the greatest elements of the song. But the producer probably slacked off a little bit, allowing tens of seconds to pretty much be a bass pattern with vocals. But Fergie, amazingly enough, contributes that crucial swagger necessary to get airplay.
Justice vs. Ratatat (Bearbot Mash-up) -A dope blend of We Are Your Friends and Seventeen Years
Intergalactic vs. DJ Khaled- If you miss the class of the Beastie Boys, and are looking for a good techno vibe - rap combo - you should download this track.