Playoff Patter

Putting The Cats' Victory Into Finer Focus.
By Tom Danehy 

AH, THE NBA playoffs: four rounds of nail-biting tension contested over a leisurely two-month period. It's not as much fun as the NCAA Tournament, but then again, it's not intended to be.

Danehy Whereas the NCAA gives each team only one shot at each opponent, the NBA allows the teams to pound on each other in best-of-five and best-of-seven formats from now until about the time the Druids march into Stonehenge to mark the summer solstice.

It may not match the NCAA for spontaneity and the chance for a glorious upset, but it usually provides for a fairer champion and gives the NBA more...well, money.

Any real basketball fan is going to prefer the NCAA format. Every game is vital, every possession is crucial, every team has a chance to advance to the next round. (Does anybody really think the Clippers are going to beat Utah in a best-of-five?)

The Arizona Wildcats used the NCAA format to its advantage this year, reversing a decade-long trend of having it used against them. They marched to the NCAA title with a squad of underclassmen and would be prohibitive favorites to repeat as champions next year were it not for that pesky one-and-done format, which effectively puts every team in the long-odds-against category.

Yeah, but everybody loves a winner, don't they? Tucson has shown that over the past few weeks, as witnessed by the sellout crowd at the Lame For A Game, the football-sized crowd at the welcome-home celebration, and the crowd that followed Mike Bibby into the bathroom the other night at the Olive Garden.

There are a few things which have come into focus since the Cats won the championship that wonderful March night. (It was wonderful because they won, and even more so because it was after Easter, so I got to eat Popeye's chicken while watching them win.)

Among them:

• If there's a camera anywhere on the grounds when the Wildcats visit the White House, bet money that Josh Pastner manages to get between it and President Clinton. I've never seen anything like it in my life. The dude is attracted to a live camera like a pimp to a shoe store.

He's a nice kid, though. When I asked him about it the other night, he smiled and said, "Hey, the cameras find me!" (That may be true. Lord knows, when the game's going on, they always know where to look for him.)

• Some people should never wear T-shirts. Tucson's economy got a decided boost when the Cats won the title, what with all the instant memorabilia on sale at (as Tommy Lee Jones would say) "every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse" in southern Arizona.

Maybe that's what GTEC should do: Go out and attract national championship teams to Tucson. It'll give the community an economic boost and it's a clean industry, except for what happened on Fourth Avenue, and we all know that Fourth Avenue...never mind.

Still, while it's great to show your support for the Cats, it prompts a corollary to something Martin Lawrence said during one of his lucid moments: "If you're weighin' more than 250, stay the f--- out of Spandex!"

Actually, the corollary has nothing to do with weight, unless you're Anna Nicole Smith looking for publicity. (Hey Anna Nicole, if you want your picture taken, go stand near Josh Pastner.)

The ugly truth is that some people should never wear T-shirts, and it really has nothing to do with weight. Lots of heavy people look just fine in T-shirts (at least that's what I keep telling myself). It's those other people, the ones who look like they've never worn a T-shirt in their lives.

Fife Symington should never wear a T-shirt. Neither should Guy Atchley, Patty Weiss, nor George Miller. Dan Eckstrom could wear one, but not Steve Leal. Mike Boyd should wear one over his head. Remember that painful-to-look-at shot of Bob Dole "relaxing" in Florida during the campaign. Poor guy managed to find and wear the only T-shirt in America with nothing written on it.

I see people all over town wearing T-shirts and looking very uncomfortable doing so. Take them off, wash them, fold them, and put them in the back of the drawer so you can go on with your lives. We'll all feel better about it.

• Miles Simon might win Tournament MVP again, but he ain't never winning a dance contest. Miles, I love you, but I swear I thought you were having a seizure on national TV.

• Looking back at the tournament, I'm convinced the Cats were the best team, not just the champions. All that talk about Kansas being able to win nine out of 10 games against the Cats (but losing that one time) is nonsense. Arizona matched up well against everybody. I think they would have beaten any of their opponents in a multiple-game series.

All it took was for A.J. Bramlett to emerge as a force and the entire team to play smart (except for the last two minutes of regulation in each game). And they did it while their leading scorer was suffering through a slump. This was a powerful team.

Gee, I was supposed to talk about the NBA playoffs, but I ran out of room. That's okay, I'll do it next week. By then we should be half way through the first round, with only 50 or 60 more games to go. TW

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