Plea to Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky: Please Win More Hoops Championships
I hope Carolina wins the NCAA men’s basketball championship again next year. Or, if not them, Duke. Or if not them, Kentucky.
It’s really cool when just a few teams get to have all the Final Four hotel after-parties after winning championships with wives, parents, brothers, sisters, team managers, and their other fans.
They deserve it. All the glory should go to them. If they’re the best and prove it on the court, they deserve the parties. If they recruit the best players, and those players perform the best and win the championships, so be it.
They deserve the parties.
The problem with this, though, is that so many other people are not enjoying the glorious parties. It’s usually just a few schools.
Twenty years from now, what will be more memorable, Carolina winning the basketball title this year or N.C. State shocking Houston in 1983 in the final game at the buzzer? What was a more interesting game for the ages, Villanova beating Carolina last year on a buzzer-beater or Carolina winning it all this year in a dull game?
When the same teams keep winning championships, sports become less interesting. This year I didn’t even watch the final game and I’m a big hoops fan. Of course, I wanted Gonzaga because it would have been a more interesting story. But while that would have been compelling, it would not have been as frustrating as watching Carolina win it all again – their sixth national title in men’s basketball.
I have nothing against their coach, Roy Williams, nor their players. From a theatrical standpoint, however, a Carolina title doesn’t move my spirit and capture my interest. I think many people – besides Carolina fans – feel the same way.
A Gonzaga win would have been on the year’s great sports stories. Some small and remote school in the far Northwest finally emerged to bring glory to the institution for the first time ever. That’s compelling.
That’s cool. That’s why people tune into sports.
Carolina winning it all is commonplace. It doesn’t move peoples’ souls.
The problem with this tournament is that it’s more than likely going to be the same schools winning the national title pretty much for the next several years. Expect Duke, Kentucky, and Carolina to get one or two more over this time period. Maybe Louisville will snatch another. But where’s the intrigue in that?
You could argue that when UCLA won seven national titles in men’s hoops in the 1960s and 70s it was the epitome of monotonous and uninteresting. But somehow that seemed different, more fascinating.
I think it was because of their coach, John Wooden, was so unusual in his approach. He didn’t believe in scouting other teams, believing that if he prepared his team as well as he could and they executed to their highest level they could not be beaten.
The Wizard of Westwood talked about life values with his players and that winning was not all there was to life. Most notably, the first thing he taught his players was how to put on their socks. Teaching them the right way to do things was the lesson he wanted to still.
Wooden’s UCLA Bruins were as cool as their light blue jerseys with gold trim. They were the kids from arguably this country’s coolest state, California. Wooden was just an ordinary looking man with an extraordinary way of coaching a basketball team.
The coaches of Duke, Carolina, and Kentucky are each very good in their own ways. But they don’t intrigue us the way John Wooden did. His championship teams were marvels, true teams with players who stayed in school for four years. Today’s championship teams are just a bunch of talented guys playing basketball well.
And there’s one other thing. UCLA played in the Pac 10 – more than 2,300 miles from where I grew up. They were not a nuisance in my daily life. I didn’t know anyone growing up who went to school there.
But Duke and Carolina are a different story. On any given day I might run into one of them.
All the parties they’ve enjoyed after winning championships must have been fun for them. But I wasn’t invited and really don’t know what such a party would be liked.
I went to Wake Forest. We have never won a national title. We probably will never experience one of those parties that Duke and Carolina fans enjoy every few years.
But they will again and again.
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