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?
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
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'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
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."
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
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
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
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."