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Thursday, March 28, 2002
Updated: March 29, 12:20 PM ET
NBA vs. NCAA is men against boys

By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

Yo. Road Dog here, blowing up the spot for R-Dub. Today we are going there, back to How the NBA is More Watchable than college hoops. Judging from e-mails R-Dub got for his over-light satire on the subject -- not to mention so-called colleague Dan Shanoff's "rebuttal" -- I say, why be satisfied with a flesh wound?

Steve Logan
Oi, would you want Steve Logan at point guard at the Olympics?
Let's fold in some of what the Page 2 readers e-mailed in to Dub, expressing mostly opposing views, if not many laughs. Dub said, "Dog, it's like having an opposing view of Movies vs. TV. The deal is, one feeds the other. It's all, like, one unmade bed."

I said, "Whatever. Stand back, Dub. I'll handle this business."

And so, without further ado, here are Road Dog's 29 Mostly Non-Satiric Reasons that NBA Hoop Is More Watchable for a True Hoop Fan than NCAA Hoop.

1. NBA has most awesome high level of play; NCAA has decent, occasionally good play
I watch hoop -- I watch everything -- for the spectacle and entertainment value of it. Using baseball to compare, I can get a base hit. But I can't hit a ball 500 feet.

2. NBA has the Olympics; NCAA has March Madness
If we don't send NBA players, the Slavs run us out of Athens. Kirilenko, Medvedenko Peja ... college ball, nice as it is, doesn't translate to world stage. Even Aussies would be wiping away pre-meal drool, saying, "Oi! Steve Logan at point for lunch!"

3. NCAA has Dan Dickau; NBA has Dan Dickau's girlfriend, a dancer with the Portland Trail Blazers, which means, ultimately, that the NBA also has Dan Dickau
Dan Dickau
Dan Dickau's cute and telegenic, but he's keeping an eye on the NBA ... and his girlfriend.
So Dan Dickau really is a player ...

4. NBA regular season is tedious; NCAA regular season is, too
The NCAA tournament itself is pretty much genius. It's a great 10-day, six-win event. Just don't sell me the NIT, the preseason NIT, various "Classics," or those Hawaiian vacations and Alaskan shootouts. Those are school field trips. Fun to be on, sure, but watching them is for the people in that business. The regular season conference schedules are for the student body. Even coaches don't like conference tournaments anymore, unless they can make a run and slip a sixth-place team into the only thing that really matters, the NCAA tournament itself, which even Dog zones in on.

5. NCAA has Drew Gooden and Caron Butler being snide 22-year-olds, thinking they're all that and a bag of chips for busting up 19-year-olds a half foot shorter than they are; NBA has Kenyon Martin for hack-in reality check as Gooden and Butler come waltzing by
Gooden at least has expressed the opinion that he thinks he plays harder than NBA players. Depends on what you mean by "hard."

6. NCAA has cute telegenic guys; NBA has cut tough guys
If Gooden thinks OU pounds the boards, wait until he gets a load of Ben Wallace. That grad assistant position with Roy Williams never looked so good. Yeah, ladies think Ray Allen and Rick Fox are "hotties." All that gets Ray Allen is dissed by his own coach. Rick Fox gets the dirty work cleaning up behind Shaq & Kobe. Both got movies out of it, though, and Rick Fox also got Vanessa Williams. Cute this.

7. NBA has "I love this game"; NCAA has "When can I turn pro?"
Which to me is a logical question for any minor leaguer.

8. NCAA has Gary Williams sweating quarts; NBA has Shaq sweating gallons, while Phil Jackson stays cool, and dates the boss' daughter, a former pinup girl, by the way
Can you draw a better hand than Phil Jackson has in one lifetime? Talk about Zen Mastery. Phil needs to be followed around, just in case some of that good fortune rubs off. Seems like luck is the residue of being around Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, Jerry Buss' offspring. Tiger Woods is Joe Dirt compared to this guy. I know I'm not ever getting out of the cab, if I ever see him driving it. I want some of what he's selling.

9. NCAA has flopping in the lane, trying to draw a charge, like that's a true skill or something; NBA gives you one flop, max, then the next flop you make will likely be your last
Don't get in Shaq's, Mailman's or Tractor Traylor's way talking about drawing a charge. Hell, man, I like to got killed myself, 10-12 years ago, when I was out in Utah playing pickup with Mailman and some of his boys. They had a guard named Bobby Hansen. I picked his dribble once or twice, and he didn't dig it much, 'cause I never played NBA, just intramurals. I understood. But I was hooking up Mailman, so what could he do? I'll tell you what he could do. Whisper to Big Mike Brown, a 6-foot-9, 270-pound power forward. I wasn't paying attention. I should have been. So I picked his dribble again -- he left it out there for me to pick this time, thinking back on it -- and headed down for the layup on the other end.

That's when I heard Mailman yell, "Look ooouuuttt!"

Big Mike Brown hammered me from behind, right into the folded-up wooden retractable seats and what felt like the turnbuckles of the WWF. But I was real strong in those days. I was just strong enough to look at Mailman, when he asked, "You all right?" and say, "Imalright" Then I was just strong enough to inbound the ball to Mailman, who took it to the hole and we won the pickup game right then and there, which was lucky, because all the run and the dribble-picking and charge-taking had been taken out of me. Done.

Went back to my hotel. Next day found I couldn't get out of bed.

So I wouldn't advise flopping in the NBA; you can draw the charge by holding your position, but I'd advise against the Flop.

You wanna play musical chairs, then go play that.

Dennis Rodman was a master of the Flop.

You see where he is now, don't you?

10. NCAA has Chris Webber taking the Fab Five to the Final Four; NBA has Chris Webber taking a pay cut from his NCAA days
So maybe that's why C-Webb ducks Shaq all the time now. He never was accountable. He never felt he had to earn his keep. He got his on the sly, on the slick, just for showing up. That's what we taught him. Made him seem crooked, just a get-over artist, by taking money under the table, instead of over the table, as legit wage. Great system you got there, NCAA. Real great.

11. NCAA has the danger of games being bought by unscrupulous gamblers for a few lousy grand; buy an NBA game? With what? A space shuttle?
Not giving the players a stipend makes them vulnerable to taking money under the table. There are problems with paying any entertainers lots of money, but at least you can expect world-class performance. If not ... you can fire them. Unless you stupidly sign them to long-term contracts, and if you do, the fault is not in the stars so much as it's in a naïve general manager like you.

12. NCAA has national letter-of-intent day; NBA has how-in-Hades-could-those-idiots-take-another-Frederick-Weis draft day
Can't get mad if you're an Arizona grad and Lute doesn't sign the 6-foot-9 kid from Oakland Tech. But if the Knicks blow the draft (they're sure to) you can let 'em have it, and claim to be a better GM than Scotty Layden, and not really be all the way wrong.

13. NCAA has long con calling it "college" hoops; NBA has short con of acting like the overly long regular season -- and the "home-court advantage" it brings -- really matters
"College" description and having guys in jerseys with "KANSAS" on the front seeds the market pretty well; gives the game an air of being legit. In the NBA, they call it what it is, developmental league; bring hoop down to the South Carolina Low Country, Roanoke, Huntsville, Ala. Think Pitino's going down there?

14. NCAA has annual Yale-Dartmouth oncourt brawl; NBA has Charles Oakley, a one-man brawl
Just heard about the brawl, also known as the Ivy Jihad. Never actually saw one myself, but the word on the street is that the straight-laced, harrumph-harrumph, egg-headed Ivy Leaguers used to knuckle up every single year, right up until, well, far as I know, last season. If I'm wrong, somebody straighten me out on this. The NBA can drop Oakley on the Taliban, and wipe 'em out.

15. NCAA has the fantasy of youth being served; NBA has the reality of youth being put in its place by bitter grizzled veterans playing hardball
Which is like life as we live it, wherever we go to work every day. Which would be, like, art, and which would be, like, "Monsters, Inc."?

16. NCAA used to have Pete Carrill as Yoda @ Princeton; NBA now has Pete Carrill as Yoda @ Sacramento Kings
Think Russell Crowe can re-create that Beautiful Mind? Yeah, he played the hell out of Nash, but the real question is, could Russ Baby play Petey the Gnome? He wouldn't want to? Sour grapes.

***** ***** *****

After R-Dub's column on this subject earlier in the week, one reader wrote in and said the NBA stank because he heard a "low rumble in the background whenever Alley I. opened his mouth," and that rumble was the sound of "Charles Darwin rolling over in his grave." Charles Darwin? Who'd be play for? The Spurs, right? Didn't he play back with James Silas and George Gervin? Well, I don't know, man's got to be man enough to say when he don't know, but this guy also said the NBA was, like, an "example with what's wrong with this country." Yeah, what is wrong with this country? It's the most productive and powerful and strongest country in the history of the world; if Alley I. got something to do with that, so be it. Bet he could cross up this Charlie Darwin dude just like he crosses up everybody else, and I don't care what kind of D Charlie played on Iceman, or how much rolling over he's doing in his grave right now. Tell me, is he dead?

Well, so is the guy checking Alley I.

Compare this huckleberry to another e-mail that said R-Dub's piece on the NBA match-up with the NCAA "... had me rolling on the floor, hurling my breakfast, and laughing like a loon, all at the same time. And I love the NCAA tournament games.... Excellent work." Now that sounds like a guy who gets it.

Me, I ain't real big on no satire. I say, Speakie English.

***** ***** *****

17. NCAA has "Rock Chalk Jayhawk!"; NBA has rock-head Antoine launching 3s when he should be down low grinding on the boards
Another push, unless you're a Celtic fan. Then it's an issue.

18. NCAA has all out attention in March; NBA has all our celebrities' attention in May and June, when they need the photo ops and the face time on national TV to keep any bounce
Bet you see Rob Lowe at a Lakers playoff game. Bet.

R-Dub's compadre Shanoff got in some good zingers at R-Dub's NBA speculating, too. Myself, personally, I liked that stuff. Dan didn't take it personal, see. I know, I know, you didn't take it personal either. Right. However, getting back, Dan Shanoff said the NCAA has "college zone defenses (that) are a thing of beauty." So ...

19. NCAA has zone defenses that are a thing of beauty ... if you're into statues; NBA has zone defenses, but you dare not play one of them, because you'd be shot out of it like a T-shirt out of an air bazooka by halftime
I was really rooting for Oregon. Don't ask me why. Like to see that Frederick Jones boy falling out of the sky, even though I can't decide if in the NBA he's a 'tweener, or J.R. Rider with a brain and more character. Luke Jackson had a little game. Wanted to see that Red Ridnour handle in the open; they told me he was like Pistol Pete (that takes a while baking -- not yet, Red). But once I saw that Chris Christoffersen kid in the middle of the Oregon defense -- well, just don't take him anywhere near the LaBrea Tar Pits, because, like mastodons and mammoths, he might not make it out.

Also for Dan:

20. NCAA has the Stanford Tree; NBA has Tree Rollins holding a clipboard and draping himself over Jermaine O'Neal, because O'Neal's mad, because he never went to college, and people often mistake him for the other O'Neal
OK, that's a push.

21. NCAA has a vibrant coaching pipeline; NBA has the pros leading the pros
The NCAA does have a vibrant coaching pipeline, as Maestro Shanoff says. But it's often populated by guys who had a hard time evaluating talent and coaching men in the big league, and then went back to college ball where they belong. I give you Rick Pitino. I give you Leonard Hamilton. I give you John Calipari. And if he doesn't get rolling, I'm sure I'll be giving you Lon Kruger one day.

You may have never heard of Alvin Gentry, Rick Carlisle, Rudy T., Mike Fratello, Jim O'Brien, Flip Saunders. Your loss. They can coach. Whether or not they can recruit is another issue. Really, if you stop and think about it, Iceberg Slim was a great recruiter, too.

22. NCAA has Bobby Knight; NBA has ... well, NBA can't really match Bobby Knight ... oh, wait, NBA has Latrell Sprewell
Which brings us to ...

23. NCAA has fingerprints on Neil Reed's throat; NBA has fingerprints on P. J. Carlesimo's throat
P.J., a grown man when he got choked, at least got a network job, a buyout and scads of public sympathy. Reed, a 19-year-old kid when he got choked, got vilified for besmirching the character of the most beloved father figure since Robert Young in "Father Knows Best" ... or at least Robert Duvall in "The Great Santini."

24. NBA has David Stern; NCAA has Big Brother
Where does the buck stop in the NCAA? Does anybody know?

25. NBA has corporate sponsors buying tix for dry-wine-and-cheese-eating nonfans, pricing the everyday fan out of some arenas: NCAA has alumni greasing ballers up the wazoo, while kicking press off press row, selling their seats for a couple hun a pop
You say, "To-may-to." I say, "To-mah-to."

26. NCAA has Digger Phelps explaining things; NBA has Hubie Brown explaining things
Digger's emotional, Hubie's analytical.

27. NCAA also appeals to the antebellum faction out there among people who don't give a hoot about hoop otherwise; NBA appeals to people who love artful skill applied to hoop and don't particularly care why the Civil War was lost, and who don't bide their time watching the skies for black helicopters
This ain't "Red Dawn," chief. Some NBA players' families have been here longer than yours have. C'mon, admit it. You don't like the NBA just because you don't like the paint job, not the engine and chassis. You don't like seeing them coming into this country of wealth with their coily hair, trying to pass themselves off as decent Americans. You despise what you consider to be their little charade -- them and their whole frickin' families ...

... well, all I can say, Senator, is we're all a part of the same hypocrisy ...

... and in that vein ...

28. NBA has expensive game tickets; NCAA has an unpaid labor force
Forgive us if me and Brooklyn prefer the first one. It's a broke, ribs-showing, no-money, ex-slave thing, which you wouldn't understand.

29. NCAA has Maryland vs. Kansas and Oklahoma vs. Indiana matchups in the Final Four; NBA has George Karl vs. Doc Rivers and Lakers vs. Mavs/Kings/Blazers in the NBA playoffs
The difference is, the NCAA is five great days -- the first two rounds, Final Four Saturday -- and it's over. The NBA finds a way to milk a couple of months out of its playoffs. What, I'm in a rush here? What else am I doing? Writing R-Dub's column? And for free too. This is the last time. A man's got to eat around here.

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," with Spike Lee, "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."