Tuesday, April 5, 2005 Updated: April 6, 11:55 AM ET
Roy tackles his obstacle course
By Tim Keown Page 2
It was close for awhile; but now that North Carolina has won the NCAA title, we're all saved from the fashion craze of millions of middle-aged American men going to work in bright orange sports coats.
And thanks to Tar Heel coach Roy Williams, everyone in the media is going to have to work a little harder to spin the story toward its most obvious and clichéd angle What It Means To Be Coach.
"Hi! Remember me? I used to be Mike Tyson."
Williams, to his credit, sawed off every question intended to get him to discuss how much it means to him to finally win the big one. (If "Talk about how much this means to you" can be considered a question.) He talked about his players and their families and the program, and he talked about how the North Carolina seniors had won only eight games as freshmen. Then, and only then, he talked about himself.
Boring, maybe, but a nice touch. He understands that nobody in the business of playing or coaching basketball at that level should be crying or pontificating about overcoming obstacles.
Obstacles, say, like public perception. Like, for instance, the public perception of North Carolina as the team with the most talent in the country, and Illinois as the team with the clearest sense of the team concept.
Nothing that happened Monday night disputed either of those claims. North Carolina's players were the most talented on the floor, and Illinois' players were the most unselfish. Nothing wrong with that, but Williams and his players Raymond Felton most vocally made it an issue after the game.
It was perfect, of course: Players on teams that are considered to have interchangeable parts get ticked off because they don't get enough credit for their individual ability; players on teams that are constantly touted for having individual talents get ticked off because they don't get enough credit for being a team.
Truth has nothing to do with it.
This Week's List
• When the news hit, Jose Canseco went back to his laboratory to reassess his conservative estimate of steroid users in the big leagues: Alex Sanchez, testing positive.
• Call it a smokescreen and Sanchez a scapegoat, but consider this: The early returns on the steroid testing in the majors and minors, where former Giants and Braves soft-tosser Damian Moss is on the suspended list, are challenging everyone's perception of what a steroid user does and what he looks like.
• In other words: Obviously, steroids and HGH have been and will be used by sluggers and pitchers and bunters everywhere.
• However, that being said: During the appeal process, it's a good bet Sanchez will point to the numbers on his baseball card as the ultimate defense.
• Two questions regarding Alex Sanchez: 1) Will there be a push to place an asterisk next to his AL-leading 12 bunt hits? 2) How will this impact his chances to make the Hall of Fame?
• By the way: Are those 38 positive-testers in the minor leagues the dumbest, most reckless guys in the game?
• The paperback edition will be titled, "Marriage for Idiots," or maybe, "Why the Hell Should Anyone Care About Johnny Damon's Love Life?": Damon's new book, titled "Idiot" so it won't be confused with "The Idiot," details his philandering and rips his ex-wife soundly enough to cause her to spill her guts to the Boston Herald.
• When graphics run amok: Teams that beat the team they beat to win the pennant on Opening Day.
• Based on early returns: Randy Johnson can handle the pressures of New York.
• Granted, I'm working from a limited sample size, but still: The officiating in women's college basketball even at the highest levels is frighteningly bad.
• However, this doesn't mean Chuck Wagon and the Wheels should start holding their breath: Good to see Citizen Cope a longtime favorite in the limited soundtrack of my brain getting some run now that Pontiac is using his music to sell its cars.
• You have to figure that if nobody was arrested, they would have held a riot to celebrate: More than 60 people were arrested in East Lansing on Saturday night after Michigan State's Final Four loss, a figure the university's president called "considerable progress."
• Because if that's what's waiting for me out on the front lawn, I'm sticking with cereal: Anyone else a little freaked out by that whole "Wake Up With The King" advertising campaign by Burger King?
• The inaugural meltdown award for 2005 goes to: Carlos Zambrano, who apparently thinks umpire Dale Scott is the antichrist.
• The sad part is, all of us know they'll be a huge seller: Available this fall contact lenses bearing the logos of NFL teams.
• Interesting sight of the spring: Pudge Rodriguez, looking like half of his old self.
• And finally, since none of his players have been photographed in a hot tub with someone named "Richie the Fixer," it's probably nothing more than a case of weak vocal cords caused by a lot of screaming: If you close your eyes and listen closely, you can't tell the difference between Bruce Weber and Jerry Tarkanian.
Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.