By Tim Keown
Page 2

Take nothing away from Florida's national championship. Fine game plan executed to precision. The Gators, however, are going to have to forgive America for not falling in love with them. After watching their brief -- but still too long -- performance in victory, you've got to wonder if it's too much to ask for just a little class.

Joakim Noah
AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt
Joakim Noah was definitely animated after the win.

From Taurean Green's hip-shaking dance in the face of UCLA in the final seconds to Joakim Noah's facial contortions and trash talking, a little bit was enough.

Watching on television, it seems to me they didn't seem much interested in graciousness. They're young, they're emotional, they're competitive, sure, but don't you want to leave everybody with a positive impression?

Remember when UCLA beat Gonzaga in the final seconds, and Adam Morrison stood on the court and cried before the clock ran out, and then collapsed in a heap of despair afterward?

That, for me, was the moment of this tournament, and not because of Morrison. UCLA's Arron Afflalo walked over and helped Morrison up, and afterward he said Morrison is a great player who should be ashamed of nothing.

Afflalo is the same guy who had a terrible game Monday night, but for me he was the star of the tournament.

It's a good thing none of the UCLA players collapsed in a heap Monday night. Somebody might have stepped on them.

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Other than being completely incorrect, it's a foolproof theory: With Barry Bonds being hammered publicly -- the book, etc. -- in a way that Mark McGwire never was, it's become fashionable to opine that McGwire's more media-friendly personality earned him a pass.

But, in reality: Calling McGwire more media friendly than Bonds is like saying Kevin Garnett is short because he's not as tall as Yao Ming.

I'm not really sure, but after watching nearly three hours of basketball Monday night, I think I gleaned this much: Billy Packer does not believe UCLA can come back from a double-digit deficit in the final 10 minutes by trading baskets.

It's just one game and all, but sheesh: The A's play to one of their only full houses of the year, and Barry Zito gives up seven to the Yankees in the first inning and a third.

And the beauty of it is: That was just the beginning.

This is not to say the man was correct with his short-lived Operation Shutdown, but this much has to be said: Whether it's self-fulfilling or not, Alfonso Soriano is one horrendous left fielder.

And they say the media's always negative: An Associated Press story on Soriano's day in left field praised his defense, going so far as to say he caught four fly balls "seamlessly."

This must be what they mean by having an eye for the game: Two questions: (1) How does a guy catch four baseballs -- each with four seams -- seamlessly? and; (2) How close to Soriano would the reporter have to be to see that he caught them without touching the seams?

Well, Victor Conte did get out of prison the other day: Someone in the San Diego stands threw a syringe at Bonds after he grounded out in the ninth inning Monday night.

Worth rooting for: Jimmy Rollins.

I've been reading for weeks about how improved the Dodgers are going to be this year, but there's one thing lacking: A valid reason.

Drawing a parallel, until it hurts: The Associated Press' early story on the title game noted, "The 6-foot-11 son of tennis star Yannick Noah dunked, swatted shots and dominated the game, much as his dad did during his run to the French Open title in 1983."

After his sterling game plan against UCLA, there are some who believe he should write the school a check: LSU coach John Brady, who made it clear he isn't interested in pitting one school against another, also made it clear he believes he deserves cash compensation for taking his team to the Final Four.

You almost could see every high school coach in America sitting at home slowing down the TiVo with a legal pad in their laps: Florida's inbound plays under its own basket are exquisite.

Because, frankly, you might not be able to learn those inbound plays and study the less important stuff at the same time: It appears the major of choice among the "student-athletes" at the University of Florida is Leisure Management.

The main objective of the curriculum? To teach the students to relax, but also teach enough about business to put the students in a position to someday run a yoga salon.

And finally, America hasn't been this disinterested in a retirement story since Roger Clemens: The daily updates on the employment status of … well … Roger Clemens, need to end.

Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Page 2 here.


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