Syracuse concedes defeat in rivalry

Fearing embarrassment in forthcoming conference matchups with the mighty Georgetown Hoyas, the pathetic Syracuse Orange will flee the Big East like petrified children.

“We’ve been mulling this move for a long time, and we think it’s best for our program,” Athletic Director Daryl Gross probably said. “The truth is, the rigors of Big East play and Georgetown’s ever-looming presence made this decision easy for us.”

Syracuse’s departure clears the way for the remaining basketball-only teams in the Big East to form a new, way better conference unsullied by the ever-filthy, perpetually overrated, and utterly detestable Orange.

“I suppose this renders our conference’s future uncertain,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III could have said. “But at least I never have to set foot in that godforsaken hellhole again in my life.”

“I’m a big stupid jerk,” added Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, presumably. “Look at my jerk face! Waaaah! Waaaah!”


“Every pro player… has probably played with a gay person”

I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play… Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person … I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all.

Charles Barkley.

It’s either bad on me or bad on society at large that I’ve seen Barkley’s unfortunate mugshot about 100 times yet never before heard or seen this quote. Here’s a reason to like the man beyond his noted Taco Bell advocacy and remarkable rebounding skills. (Though it’s patently turrible that we still feel the need to laud people for taking stances that should be obvious.)

Click through and read all of Will Leitch’s piece.

The cult of Yao

For nearly a decade, China has been enthralled by the cult of Yao spun by Communist Party propagandists and corporate sponsors: the winner, the gentle giant, the favorite son. His image was ubiquitous here, and the public basked in his glow even as other Chinese players in the N.B.A. sputtered.

Yet his retirement is forcing many Chinese to acknowledge that their country has relied on Yao alone for victory and national pride, ignoring shortcomings in the state sports system that leave China facing a future bereft of N.B.A. and Olympic basketball glory.

Dan Levin, N.Y. Times.

I’ve probably mentioned here before that I spent a month in China in the summer of 2007 for grad school. Yao’s image was plastered everywhere, especially in his native Shanghai. One of the first Chinese guys I met asked me to “detail the extent of Yao’s genius and its influence on America.” I spotted basketball hoops inside the Forbidden City and at the base of the Great Wall at Badaling.

I should note now that I am a terrible basketball player by U.S. suburban kid standards. I’m a decent passer with a strong lower body and a good sense of physics so I’m vaguely useful grabbing rebounds, but I can’t hit a shot from outside 10 feet and I tend to dribble the ball off my feet. I never played any organized basketball at any level, and in pickup games I’m usually among the worst or the very worst player on the court.

But I played a few times with some dudes in Shanghai and felt like Allen Iverson. It was a small sample of both opponents and games, but it seemed like there was a certain baseline level of play and basketball coordination that came with growing up in the U.S. and playing regularly against better competition that made me a better player. Some of these kids clearly played pretty often. They all had better jumpshots than I did and several of them were better athletes, but even my rudimentary crossover dribbles beguiled them.

Again, it could just be that I happened upon one particularly terrible group of college-aged Chinese basketball players. But it stands to reason that if these guys grew up — according to Levin’s article — with no instruction at all, they’d hit a ceiling of sorts.

I’ll leave the sweeping discussions of Chinese economics to people who have studied them at greater lengths than I have, but in 2007, China was pretty clearly enduring frenzied change. I saw a shirtless man standing on a pile of rubble in the shadow of the Jin Mao Tower, holding a naked baby, talking on a cell phone, selling crabs out of a bucket. I don’t want to overstep my bounds as a sports and sandwich blogger, but I tend to figure once the pace of change settles a bit, that nation will come to things like youth basketball, and we’ll eventually see a huge influx of Chinese athletes in professional sports.

Real men drive Hyundais

Turns out Ron Artest is a Hyundai driver. Via Jalopnik:

Artest got the car as a gift from George Lopez, apparently.

Obviously the Lakers details are ridiculous, but I’ll say this: The Hyundai Genesis is pretty awesome. I sat in one and played with the gadgets while I was in the dealership waiting on the paperwork for my own Hyundai, which, believe it or not, is significantly less flashy than Ron Artest’s Hyundai.

Also, here is an excerpt from Ron Artest’s Wikipedia page:

In a December 2009 Sporting News interview, Artest admitted that he had led a “wild” lifestyle as a young player, and that he drank Hennessy cognac in the locker room at halftime when he was playing for the Chicago Bulls at the beginning of his NBA career.[40] During his rookie season in Chicago, he was criticized for applying for a job at Circuit City in order to get an employee discount.[41][42] He once attended a practice with the Indiana Pacers in a bath robe.[43] He was suspended for two games in the early 2004–05 season by Pacers coach Rick Carlisle after he allegedly asked for a month off because he was tired from promoting an R&B album for the group Allure on his production label.[41] Artest had also been suspended for three games in 2003 for destroying a television camera at Madison Square Garden, and for four games for a confrontation with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley in 2003.

Most Big East teams make the NCAA Tournament

A record 11 Big East teams were chosen to compete in the 68-team tournament, including regular-season winner Pittsburgh as the No. 1 seed in the Southeast.

UConn, which completed an unprecedented run through the Big East tournament Saturday by winning its fifth game in five days, gained the conference’s automatic bid.

Ten teams were chosen among the 37 at-large selections: Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John’s, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova.

The previous record was eight, set by the Big East in 2008.

Adam Zagoria,

There’s probably going to be a lot of college hoops talk everywhere in the next week, and I suppose the Big East earning 11 bids provides as good a segue as I’m going to find to explain my rooting and bracket-completing interests every March.

First off: I pick Georgetown to win in every bracket I fill out every year (at least now that they reliably make the Tournament; no thanks to you, Craig Esherick). I know that this is not necessarily the smart way to bet, . But I also know that your method, whatever it is, is also not necessarily the smart way to bet, and mine offers me the slim chance of ultimate awesomeness in reward. I don’t want to ever even imagine a situation in which Georgetown reaches the finals but I stand to win money if they lose.

And none of this “one bracket with my team, one ‘real’ bracket,” nonsense either. That’s for sissies. This is the only time all year I go all in for my alma mater. I will mention the $50 I will inevitably lose when next someone calls asking for an alumni donation.

The second most important thing is that Syracuse loses. I’m not dumb enough to pick them to lose that early in the tournament because Jim Boeheim and his stupid face are too good for that, but I’ll write them off somewhere around the Sweet 16. Again, don’t want to invite a scenario wherein I stand to benefit from the Orange winning.

After that, I root for Big East supremacy above all. I won’t bet this way, but I’m pulling for an Elite 8 with seven Big East squads. (There is no Big East team in one half of the West regional.)

So we’ll say, I don’t know, Georgetown over UConn in the finals? Book it.