Don't hate the players or the game…..or the NCAA bracket | Wizards Blog Truth About

Don’t hate the players or the game…..or the NCAA bracket

Updated: March 25, 2008

I must apologize to the good folks at We Rite Goode. I’ve neglected their work, which is written very well. How could I oversight inclusion in my Google Reader? Well, it happened.

After doing a google search for LeDell Eackles, thanks to this post from Mr. Irrelevant, I re-stumbled across this We Rite Goode post about our buddy LeDell, which sparked so many childhood memories of LaBradford Smith [dunking on the UCLA Bruins], Pervis Ellison [whudda thunk?, a highlight reel dedicated to Pervis….in a Bullets uniform], and Michael Adams. I could go on and on like grandpa on scotch; I’ll unlock my Bullets vault one day. By the way, it’s not like I never went to WR Goode, I just didn’t digest in my daily dose, thus missing some good shit (for lack of a better word). Point being, I’m back.

[Coincidently, it seems that Jake from Bullets Forever saw the same Ledell Eackles post from Mr. Irrelevant, googled LeDell to see what would return, and came up with a different LeDell Eackles-themed We Rite Goode post, It’s French for ‘the dell’ – also well worth the read]

So, in catching up with WRG, I thoroughly enjoyed this more recent post, Root of the problem: New website, same old complaints which spoke of this article on [I Don’t Do Brackets, and Here’s Why. by Martin Johson]. Thus inspired to do so, I began composing a comment on WRG which became obnoxiously long before I knew it…..obviously down the path towards a blog post of my own.

In order for the below to make sense, you gotta go read the two non-LeDell Eackles articles above.

One Sad NCAA Tournament Bracket - truthaboutit.netWhy hate me?

Plain and simply, Martin Johnson never makes a lucid argument as to why he doesn’t “do” brackets.

The NCAA tournament is about players, regardless of skill or background, playing their hearts out because, pardon the cliché, there is no tomorrow….. literally. Most of these guys will, indeed, move on, never again to play the sport they love at a competitive level such as the NCAA tournament. Johnson may not be blaming the kids (yes, I’m 27 and calling college basketball players “kids”), but he sure is insulting them with denotations of desperation. How can one blur the lines between being desperate and having the desire to perform in the spirit of competition?

I, my friends, fill out brackets for that. For the the excitement, the intensity of basketball players putting all they have, all they’ve been taught, on the line. Ok, aaaaand for a chance to win money, clearly. But unless you’re dropping Charles Barkley-like loot on gambling when you are clearly not the Chuckster, filling out a bracket amounts to harmless fun. That is, assuming you are not a faceless corporation which gets uptight with the annual “man hours lost to NCAA tournament” article. U.S. businesses should embrace an event such as the NCAA tournament as the rest of the Mother Earth does for the World Cup (and actually, more and more firms such as my current place of “regular” employment are showing the tourney games on a conference room television).

Filling out a bracket for the Big Dance has become as American as voting…..perhaps, and sadly, more American than voting. But give me a candidate who pushes for the first NCAA Thursday and Friday off as a national holiday and I will give them my ear. Such a holiday would allow college students to avoid missing classes as well. I have severely digressed.

So, if not the kids, who is Martin Johnson blaming for the deteriorating state of college basketball? Johnson evidently hates the “system” and expresses fogey sentimentalism over fundamentals, or lack thereof. Quite novel of Johnson to point out the obvious. With the undeniable decline of the United States in the international basketball arena, Johnson is a day late and and an intelligent argument short on his tirade.

In other words, tell us something we don’t know about the landscape of American basketball. You don’t think because of the prevailing Olympic/international basketball competition crisis that the basketball thought-leadership in this country is not on notice? They are. For a while now, it’s been self-evident that the ever flattening world is “catching up” in more ways than basketball. I’m am confident that the awareness has been and will continue to lead to positive steps in the right direction, at least on the hardwood.

Which leads to Johnson’s “best days are gone…not coming back” fatalism – Drama Queen Please. Give the 1-year NBA rule some time, it will have a progressive effect on the top programs and the recently increasing DI college basketball parity will get a trickle down dose of Reaganomics. Not to mention that NBA Commissioner David Stern aims to further increase the age limit….and I think he will in time. An additional year seems ideal.

You know, I wouldn’t even blame Martin Johnson that much if he called himself a basketball fan, yet was neutral in regard to the NCAA tournament. No, he is so disgusted that the Big Dance makes the hair on his neck stand.

The usual diminishing fundamentals argument derives at the top with the NBA. But perhaps seeking a fresh perspective with shock-value, Johnson is using the annual NCAA tournament bracket frenzy as a scapegoat for his inability to hit the quality story dartboard while blindfolded. Only a fool with a black heart (now I’m being dramatic) would go after those poor “unpaid” college players. (I shouldn’t have to tell you why unpaid is in quotes….I’m sure alumni cash cows filter down to mid-majors as well.) Have I digressed again?

In any case, I didn’t intend to make my defense of filling out NCAA brackets an attack on Martin Johnson. But it was his remarks which put me on the defensive in the first place. Seems that if the situation is not ideal, then Johnson lacks enjoyment flexibility. Mid-life crisis? That had to have been ages ago for the 48 years-young Marty. With his “confusion” over match-ups, I’d say he’s a couple early bird spec
ials away from needing bifocals.

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.