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[Basketball] No contest


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I was reading CNN, yes about time, and I saw this. I liked the jump he was performing so I thought this news may be appreciatted by a few people. :)

You may have been too busy checking out the NCAA tournament brackets and mapping out your office-pool strategy (tip: 12th-seed Manhattan over 5th-seed Florida. Trust us on this one) to notice a news item from Sunday's NBA action, and league commissioner David Stern no doubt hopes that was the case. If you missed it, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers refused to play Sunday against the Detroit Pistons because coach Chris Ford didn't include him in the starting lineup.

That development would be interesting all by itself, but it becomes particularly noteworthy because of its timing, coming as it does just as college basketball is about to begin the most compelling competition in all of sports -- yes, that can be debated, but one Hot Button at a time, please -- the men's NCAA tourney. There could be no more telling juxtaposition of events than to have a petulant NBA millionaire throw a fit of ego on the very day that hundreds of college players, from mighty Kentucky to little Liberty, are preparing to throw their heart and soul into a series of games for which they will not be paid a cent. (All right, maybe a few of them are getting a buck or two under the table, but let's drop the cynicism for a moment, shall we?)

Every year at this time, the NCAA Tournament puts the NBA to shame. In fact, if Stern were smart, he would shut the league down while March Madness was going on, because the pros suffer so much by comparison. While the college kids dive on the floor, jump over scorers' tables and treat every possession as if their scholarships depended on it, NBA players walk through another pick-and-roll in another of a seemingly endless series of meaningless regular-season games, looking hopelessly bored with the entire exercise. The college game may be losing its most gifted players to the pros prematurely, but the one thing the NBA can't siphon off from the schools is the passion and selflessness with which the best college teams play.

We have the Iverson incident to thank for bringing it all clearly into focus. In The Answer's defense, he had missed a few games with an injury and felt that he shouldn't lose his starting spot because of it. But Ford merely wanted to limit his minutes because of his recent inactivity. Iverson obviously would have been back in the starting lineup within a game or two, but instead of going along with his coach's plan, he took off his uniform before game time, changed back into his street clothes and left his teammates on their own.

Compare Iverson's refusal to be a substitute to the story out of Stanford a couple of weeks ago, when center Rob Little, a junior, went to coach Mike Montgomery and offered to give up his starting spot to senior teammate Joe Kirchofer for Kirchofer's final home game. Kirchofer, not knowing of Little's offer, went to Montgomery and said he didn't need to be rewarded with a start if it wasn't in the best interests of the team. Which attitude do you find more admirable, Iverson's or Little's/Kirchofer's?

Granted, the tournament isn't all innocence and purity. There is a boatload of money at stake for the schools, not to mention boosters who have to be appeased with victories if coaches want to keep their jobs. There are also players whose tournament motivation is as much to improve their standing in the eyes of pro scouts as it is to win one for dear old State U. It's also not completely fair to compare the college game's postseason to the NBA's regular season. But tune in a tournament game, any tournament game, in the next three weeks and watch some baby-faced kid box out as if the fate of the world depended on it, then switch to a pro game and watch some multi-millionaire pout because he's gone three possessions without touching the ball. Some of those collegians will eventually play at "the next level," as they refer to the NBA. But in some ways, they're playing at the highest level right now.

Source: CNN

Couch Potato?

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