Final Four Commentary

MARCH 28, 2016


Now that we are getting closer and closer to having a final winner, there are some things that I don't think any of us wants to see:

It would be great if opponents didn't taunt or make fun of each other. It would be nice if those in charge were completely honest and not the least bit hypocritical. It's probably too much to hope for, but I think we all deserve watching opponents who check their egos at the door. And I really don't want to see the crowd going crazy, actually putting some people in physical danger.

So how do we avoid seeing all these things this year? It's easy.

Just stop watching the Presidential campaign, and turn your attention to the Final Four. Let the games begin!


MARCH 30, 2016


I'm trying just to focus on the games and ignore the Presidential Campaign, but politics is invading every facet of our lives, even the sacred Final Four. Rumor has it that Hillary Clinton has leaked all of the candidates' feelings about the Final Four through her private server. Not surprisingly, Ted Cruz has picked North Carolina. Ted is against the government getting involved in people's business, except, as with North Carolina, when it comes to telling people which bathroom they should use. Bernie Sanders has the radical position that the NCAA is rigged in favor of the largest and richest schools. He refuses to choose a winner, but dreams of a revolution in which the financial winner and eventual champion is a school like Herbert's Wide Shoes and Horticultural College. Hillary is picking Pennsylvania's Villanova, New York's Syracuse, and Oklahoma, since she claims to be a resident of all three states. Trump is boycotting the Final Four, claiming that the NCAA has always treated him horribly by never inviting Trump University to the tournament. As for the women's tournament, Trump doesn't approve of women playing intercollegiate sports, but says he will watch the Women's Final Four, because "those girls look really cute in their little uniforms." A capacity crowd is expected for the Final Four, and John Kasich says that out of the 70,000 people who will be there, he'll be the only grownup in the room.


MARCH 31, 2016


Like many sports fans I spent too many hours after the terrorists struck last week, watching TV and guiltily switching back and forth from Brussels to basketball. And then those two worlds magically came together. Suddenly, I heard a reporter mention that Hall of Fame basketball star Dikembe Mutombo was one of the people at the Brussels airport when the tragedy occurred. The reporter said that Mutombo was not injured. He had been on his way back to the United States after one of his many humanitarian trips to his beloved homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That's what Mutombo is known for off the court-- not drugs, not domestic violence, not the outrageous demands of a celebrity. Some athletes are proud of the mansions that they build. Mutombo is proud of the hospital that he built.

When he was a player, Mutombo was known for – among other things – as a great defensive player who blocked the shots of opponents and then playfully wagged his finger at them for even trying to make a basket. He is also known for a deep yet lighthearted voice. After the reporter said that he was all right, Mutombo's voice came on the air. However, it was not the familiar, deep, laughing voice that sports fans know. This voice was holding back tears as it described the horror and his terror. This giant of a man, haltingly describing what happened, made that attack seem more real and more devastating than any of the news reports had.

 In a later interview, Mutombo talked of running out of the terminal with the panicked crowd. Then, two American men came up to him and said they would take him to safety. Mutomobo said that they walked for "a couple of miles," and then they drove to a place where survivors of the blast could call home, eat, and sleep. In the morning, they drove him all the way to Amsterdam to fly home to the U.S.

Mutombo described those Americans as "angels," and expressed amazement that they would be so helpful to someone they didn't know. There must be thousands of people who have been amazed that Mutombo would be so kind to people he hasn't known. It was a fine bit of karma.

He said that terrorism would not stop him from continuing with his important work. But he wasn't embarrassed to admit that he might be fearful and would definitely be watchful in the future. He mentioned in the interview that he does some work for the NBA as a Global Ambassador. What a perfect title for that man with the deep voice, wagging finger, and big heart.


MARCH 31, 2016

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to Houston for the games. Watch for me on TV.  I'll be the one in the blue sweater.