By: Rob Botts
No, not that degree a person gets and then most likely brags about to his buddy to make himself just that much more insecure about his intelligence, achievement and overall placement on this planet. That kind of thinking makes me want to place them at the head of the line to one of those nice, comfy padded rooms where this type of nonsense being said isn’t all that different than someone explaining why they are Jimmy Hoffa’s spirit trapped inside of a hormone free chicken roaming the farm country side…Madness right?
Well, it is March and that’s when everybody who loves brackets or college basketball tournaments..or in this particular case, BOTH…goes crazy for their teams. This infectious disease isn’t recognized as such yet by the CDC but it clearly is contagious enough to affect all the ballers from the National Basketball Association turning the league into the Madness Basketball Association. Players in college become “winning at all cost” obsessed and play as if their actual breathing human lives depended on it. They play with ferocious abandon, no regard for innocent bystanders and take no prisoners effort. It is only that mindset by a united team with such infection flowing through their college basketball veins that would allow for such incredible upsets every single year.
You notice the difference in the NBA when the calendar reaches mid March don’t you? Of course you do. You secretly hope it’s contagious tentacles will reach out and grab you someday. That some day there won’t only be an “athletic only” strain of it. When the kids of education cities all across the nation start their madness, you can see the transition almost immediately from our hoop heroes in the pro ranks. Guys who would normally sluff off a teammate’s mid season defensive lapse that allows a back door lay-up, instead scream to said clueless teammate at the top of their competitive toned drenched throats “WAKE UP!!!” Dudes who would usually go up with a half hearted effort to grab a rebound and lazily take more time than usual to get an outlet pass to the waiting guard, instead would bend their knees and explode off the hardwood floor with the speed of a shuttle taking off into the darkness of outer, outer space and with the hunger of that Hyena that has waited oh so long for that carcass left by a bored and very full African Lion…
Coaches in the association love this time of year. This is when they can get the most out of their players and implement game plans and strategies straight out of the madness playbook. Plays that require the absolute maximum effort along with the belief that anything the coach draws up will 1000% work. No questions. No second guesses. The brick wall has no chance this time of year. Picket fence with the swing door hanging wide open for the game winning foul line jumper? Sure. Multiple screens and cross cuts during the half court sets with speed, precision and intensity. You got it. Cut to the corner then get that eye contact that will allow for a stop in direction to reverse field and meet the ball at the rim after it is perfectly placed there by the eye to eye initiating floor general’s lob pass. Absolutely. The trapping and suffocating, slap the floor until your hands bleed type of man to man defense where a coach can know that a basket for the opposing team just isn’t an option. You bet.
The madness works it’s way into the stands to the fans and media types alike. The fans cheer with such bluster and confidence that the entire arena shudders in anticipation of what just might happen next. The sideline reports ask deep, thoughtful, soul penetrating questions to the coach during their timeouts and breaks. They follow up and follow up until they get the answer they seek. The TV announcers calling the game are on top of every single unfolding play with “radio only” type of description. The actions described in ways that the late, great Chick Hearn himself would find engaging and fantastical. The arena, the players, the fans, the media, the ushers, the security, the hot dog dudes and anybody in the building have merged to become one large, heavy breathing, ultra competitive living organism who’s goal is just one thing..win. WIN!!!
Today is March 12th. You feel that scratchiness on the back of your neck? That achey feeling in your throat..That steam slowly rising off of your forehead…Those turning knots in your acid churning stomach? Don’t you dare call your local healthcare provider. You immediately pick up that remote and tune into the next athletic competition that comes across your TV screen, computer, tablet or phone and you let the madness wash over you in a roaring, sublime crushing wave….