It’s A Bracket.
Beware the ides of March! It’s a kind of madness. With everyone seemingly thinking that the sports world revolves around the LeBron James decisions of the NBA, most forget the most storied season in the classic college calendar. Most…that is! There are 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, but there are hundreds of more towns and alumnus in the United States of America all seeded and after the coveted crown of the NCAA.
This is where legends are born and legacies are started, on these hollowed hardwood courts of different dynamics and patriotic floor to floor logos. From UCF’s beautiful blacktop court design to all the creative, court canvas imagery you seen on ESPN’s nightly tour through campuses. Still, it’s more than the grand design or trumpet proud instrumentation of the dear and devoted, painted up fans at the side of this court. Although that’s where it all starts singing. It’s more than the pay to play debate or the bracketology of bragging rights and betting bluffs.
This is the true, purity of the game in it’s greatest essence. More than money…something that carries much more meaning in any currency. Before the big-leagues and the big checks this is the ticket. Before growing up to the quote, on quote “real life”.
These are the glory days of a community of education and the first group of friends that decide to come together as a team. They say that school days are the best days of your life and when it comes to these college years March is by far the best month for this sport. To get any realer or purer in this game, you’d have to take it back to the playgrounds of the streets…and UCF have already done that for you.
Who will take the court crown for their Caesar and who will end up betrayed by the Basketball God’s like Brutus? Like a Shakespeare story this worlds stage will have all the players gunning for the top position. Balls will roll and nets will be cut, but after all is said and done who will be holding the scissors? Anyone whose been through the triumph and tears of this great game know there as many upsets as celebrations to the tune of Freddie Mercury’ singing ‘We Are The Champions’ with Queen.
Who will be king in this terrific tournament? Man of the moment, Jabari Parker will have to wait for the draft for his biggest stage in basketball now the madness of this month have outed Duke after the went round for round with Mercer who showed them and the legendary Coach K no mercy. They “shocked the world” as the storied Kentucky Wildcats have vowed to do, clawing away at Kansas and making their NBA Rupp Arena alumni of Rajon Rondo, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Eric Beldsoe, John Wall, Derek Anderson, Walter McCarty, Tony Delk and many drafts more proud.
Take a drive through the miles and miles of beautiful country in Kentucky and you can see the U.K. logos in every car, household or general store window…and as for the apparel it outfits everyone in a place that’s powerful enough to have an NBA franchise but proud enough to know that Basketball begins, breathers and balls out with the ‘cats of Big Blue Nation. Unless your in Muhammad Ali’s home of Louisville, you can see what the mountain banners think of this.
This, however is the kind of beautiful rivalry and competitive spirit that makes this tournament and incarnation of basketball that influential and inspirational. All played out in television and uniformed up to the nines it all looks as professional as the biggest stage…and as a matter of fact it is exactly that. The big budget of the NBA may be the blockbuster, but the NCAA is like the indie hit that’s worthy of the real awards. Sure you don’t see the names of players on the back of some jerseys but unlike some other job or extra-class there’s more credit here.
They are more than just a number and you best believe the family of fans gathered around the television set for the biggest night of the week know who they are and welcome them into their household like their second name belonged to them. Some of these guys will graduate to the star statuses of the NBA, some will not. Some may bust, others may break out in a different way. Some may stay true to their community, whilst others may look for greener pastures.
Some may have to work graveyard shifts on the full-time and others may join the factory assembly line to make end meat. Still, in this moment they are all together as one for the one thing that will live forever in the memories of their life’s moment like their framed jersey, whether there’s is raised to the rafters, or lowered to the bargain basement. Whether they meet Larry O’Brien or Larry the cable guy little separates these one for all young men right now. They could be making a million or a dime in the next decade or dozen but what happens over the next few days will remain the best and most influential moments of their lives and careers.
It’s just that legendary. It’s beyond the hype or adverts. You don’t even need to see them to feel just how important this era is in this game and what this time every year does for this beautiful game of basketball that exists all over the world in many forms but does not ‘live’ quite like this. This is Basketballs Superbowl, the real playoffs show here that between class and campus is where amazing truly happens. Tourists could go to New York and Los Angeles for their big game NBA experience, but travel across any town in the right time and you’ll see the history of hoops dribbled through the city from slapped on t-shirts to ingrained pride and love.
The stadiums are just as epic, the formidable facilities have to be for the worlds greatest stage. Take a look from your hotel balcony in Nashville and you may see more than the city that Cash and the country of Dolly Parton built. Vanderbilt’s facility shows the Commodores play here for more than just 9 to 5 too like Lionel Richie’s roots.
Across football, baseball and the rims that make the holy trinity of American sports complete universities unite around the games they play and the contests that make them champion. It’s a pure psychology down to a science that brings math and history students together. It’s box-score making moments that keep families invested in colleges even years after their grand-kids have graduated. You could say it’s more than a game even if it is the round-ball that brings them here. It’s the hometown hero that wear the name of their place of basketball birth across their chest with bumping, and jersey tugging pride, without carrying their own on their back.
That’s where their teammates, town and legion of fans belong. This is why the legendary likes of Kobe Bryant have missed out on more than just the final years of their careers. This is why college logos are seen fashioned all around the world on peoples caps and sweats even if they don’t attend or understand. It’s more than just a look it’s a stronger vision than the NBA of Vitale shouting proud vitality. From the Big Ten’s to the Pac’s and the All-Americans to the Wooden awards this is what its all about. This is their moment…and yours too. It’s purely crazy! You don’t have to beware of the ides of March, you just have to see them. March Madness is the NCAA…and the NCAA is Basketball.