Monday, April 5, 2010

What a Basketball Game Should Look Like

Whoa.  That game was amazing.

I was pulling for Butler, but it wasn't an easy decision.  I actually like Duke.  Coach K is a pretty classy guy, and his team reflects that.  Sure, it's a private school for rich kids, but so is Butler, so I can't really make a comparison there.  I hated Christian Laettner just like most of the rest of our solar system, but he's been gone for a long time, so maybe we should all get over it.

Hating Duke is not like hating the Yankees.  The Yankees (or more appropriately the "Bankees") win because they spend more money than anybody else can spend.  They get the best players in the world because they can out-bid anybody for contracts.  Duke doesn't have that luxury.  They pay Coach K a lot, but plenty of schools pay their coaches a lot.  Hate them because they're good?  Duke has been to the Final Four four times since 1999.  Michigan State has been there six times, and nobody hates the Spartans.

It's too bad everybody hates a team that is fundamentally sound, plays as a team, has less NBA prospects than the other elite teams, and graduates its players (at one of the best schools in the world).  It's too bad class gets confused with arrogance.  Yeah I guess they're a little arrogant, but you don't see nearly as much of the chest-pounding and dancing out of Duke that you see from just about everybody else.

But still, I was pulling for Butler.  This would have been one of the greatest sports stories ever.  Don't you love how the experts picked them to lose every game in the tournament?  Everybody said, "They won't beat Syracuse", even though they'd won every game since December.  I agreed with them, but after every game, these same experts talked about how they weren't surprised.  Same story tonight.  Not only did everybody think Butler would lose, they all thought Butler didn't have a chance.  Now after the game, they're all talking about how they knew this would be a close game.  Just once I'd like to hear one of the experts say, "I had no idea this team was that good".  Then I guess they wouldn't be experts.

But I'm a much bigger Butler fan after this game than I was before it.  When they lost one of the most heartbreaking finishes I've ever seen, none of the players fell down on the court and pouted.  Nothing is more irritating at the end of a basketball game than a team full of guys who collapse on the court and cover their faces.  Butler's players were probably more disappointed than most teams after a loss, but they didn't start crying, and they didn't fall down into sobbing convulsions.  They had to watch the celebrations, then shook hands with the Duke players.  I don't think I've ever seen a team lose with more class that Butler did.

I wish every team was like Duke or Butler.  I don't care about the superstars who go to college for a year just because the rule says you have to.  I watch the NBA to see those guys.  College basketball should be about guys who are going to college.  There shouldn't be a rule against guys going to the NBA right out of high school.  Ask LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire, and Kevin Garnett if that worked out for them.  Let them go straight there.  They can play, and you don't need a college education to play in the NBA.  You can go later.  You're an idiot if you have a chance to make $10 million a year and decide to go to college instead just because you want to have something to fall back on.

But tonight's game was what it's all about.  I hope we see a lot more of it.  Butler has almost everybody back next year from this team, so it looks like we could be in for a good show.  I'm just worried about all the people who will be die-hard Butler fans.  We've all seen it with the Red Sox, Steelers and Saints.  Be a fan, but admit it--you'd never heard of the Butler Bulldogs until they made it to the Final Four in 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment