Category Archives: Basketball

Expand the Tournament Field? Now That Would Be Madness.

For the local pee-wee level soccer league, there are no winners and losers.  Literally.

Every Saturday morning, the neighborhood youth soccer association near my corner of Southern California plays to a stalemate:  The league mandates that every game played during the two month-long season will result in a tie.

The belief is that the kids will learn that the object of competition is not whether you win or lose, as long as you participate.

Such programs aim to protect children from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

This year’s Academy Awards expanded the Best Picture field from five to ten movies to promote the inclusion of films that narrowly missed the cut.

The decision was meant to pacify the annual complaint that the Academy had once again failed to properly acknowledge deserving candidates for the award, causing bitter disappointment and feelings of resentment.

Further, the move would protect filmmakers from the threat of hurt feelings and cultivate self-esteem.

The NCAA, it seems, has sympathized with the above logic.

The governing body that runs the yearly Men’s Basketball Tournament is looking to increase the number of teams allowed to compete for the National Championship.

At press time, the tournament allows 64 teams to vie for the most coveted trophy in College Basketball.  The committee is considering expanding the field to 96 teams.

The NCAA believes that this would allow more teams the opportunity to participate for the National Title, thus creating a tournament of unparalleled democracy.  Said one NCAA staffer, more kids would be offered the privilege of  experiencing the excitement of the yearly tournament.

The theory is that the expanded tournament field would protect collegiate players from the threat of hurt feelings and would cultivate self-esteem.

Ninety.  Six.  Teams.

The possible revision to the NCAA Tournament is a continuation of a disturbing trend in our culture.  We are cultivating a softer, more tolerant breed of individual that is spoiled, and filled with a false sense of privilege.

The author of this blog hates to type these words, but he shall:  We are becoming a bunch of over-indulged pussies.

If the NCAA has their way — and they will — we can look forward to such scintillating match-ups as number 1 seed Kansas potentially locking horns with number 96 seed Canisius.

Canisius, you ask?  Exactly.

We will wait with sweet anticipation as perennial power house North Carolina collides with the barely qualifying Coastal Carolina (student population 8,000).

A Chihuahua would have better fortune against a Pit Bull.

The proprietors of this blog would like to submit another opinion.  Let’s view this for what it really is — corporate greed at its highest level.

Don’t believe the NCAA rhetoric of the spirit of competition and the selfless act of expanding opportunities to marginal basketball programs.

Here’s how it went down:

A bean-counter at the NCAA corporate offices made a fancy spreadsheet with bushels of  hyperlinks, graphs and colorful pie charts.  These graphics told the story of how much advertising revenue the NCAA tournament games generated.  The bean-counter made an easy sale to these profit chasers — if some is good, more must be better.

“Think of how much more money we could make,” the spindly accountant whined to his bosses.  Since stodgy old executives love colorful graphs, pie charts, and revenue the idea of 96 teams took root.

Regrettably, the fancy pie chart failed to consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes.  Or worse yet, the fancy pie chart did consider the blatant exploitation of the student athletes and the executives still moved forward with their decision.

This revision to the tournament  would cheapen the quality of an already near-perfect product.  Rather than giving hand-outs to teams on the bubble, here’s a radical suggestion to those NIT-bound teams:  Perform better during the regular season!

Let’s recap:

1. Winning vs. Losing

Edge: Push

2. 64 teams vs. 96 teams

Edge: Colorful pie charts

3. Student athletes vs. stodgy NCAA executive

Edge: Bean-counters

In summary, any attempt to expand the NCAA basketball tournament field should be met with strong opposition.  A group of 96 teams cheapens the quality of the event and reduces its value.

A Maserati wouldn’t be a Maserati if everyone owned one, now would it?

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In Fish We Trust

With a decisive conclusion to an NBA season where The Finals showcased an overwhelmed Orlando team fall to a historic Los Angeles franchise, Kobe Bryant can finally lay to rest the claims that he can’t win it all without the aid of Shaquille O’Neal or any other player.

Or can he?

True, Bryant is celebrating his fourth championship; his first without O’Neal patrolling the post area. But now there is another teammate of Bryant’s that can boast what O’Neal has rapped and twittered about. Beneath the Kobe/ Shaq Rivalry veneer is a shiny new truth: Kobe Bryant has never won an NBA title without Derek Fisher.

Let’s explore the facts.

Both Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have played thirteen years in the NBA. The back court tandem combined to win the championship three years in a row from 2000- 2002.

Fisher tested the free agent market after the 2003- 2004 season, landing in Golden State. Later, as a member of the Utah Jazz, Fisher reached the Western Conference Finals in 2006- 2007.

During the same length of time, Bryant remained with the Lakers and led his team to successive early round playoff exits and a draft lottery pick at the end of the 2004- 2005 campaign.

Fisher accepted a salary cut and returned to Los Angeles in 2007, where the Lakers returned to the NBA Finals in consecutive years, winning it all just a few days ago.

To be fair, no one individual can win an NBA championship by themselves. In the realm of sports, the right cocktail of player abilities and temperament is the requirement to hoist a golden trophy over your head.

For Kobe Bryant, the main ingredient happens to be Derek Fisher.

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