Up until February 12th, 2008, the Republic of Texas was one of only four states in the U.S.A. where it was illegal to buy obscene devices. I mention this only because I'm having a blast here at the Final Four in San Antonio and I find it odd that a state which values liberty and pleasure so much would ban toys "primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." As far as I can tell, this place is all about having fun and banning plastic phalluses seems antithetical to such pleasurable aims. You start with sex toys and what's next? Dancing? Basketball?
Let's hope not.
The Tar Heels show off during their open practice.
It's like a big party here in San Antonio and I'm not even talking about the River Walk or the Alamo, the city's every day attractions. I'm talking about the events surrounding The Event. The Final Four games aren't until tomorrow afternoon, but pretty much anyone who's going to the games has already arrived and it seems like everyone's brought their party shoes - you know the ones I'm talking about, they're comfy and got sole.
Cyrus and I roll out of bed this morning and are floored by the day's options. Should we head on over to Hoops City and check out the basketball promos? Should we hit up a few hotel lobbies for some celebrity interviews? (I caught a glimpse of The Roots drummer, ?uestlove, sucking on a coffee at the Marriot.) Or should we ride Dave Scott's coattails and head on over to the Alamodome for the team practice sessions. We're not accustomed to so many choices so early in the morning. I mean, normally it's coffee or water, shampoo or soap, change of clothes or keep rocking the same shirt you've been wearing for a week.
After a lengthy debate, Cyrus and I decide to follow the wise ways of Mr. Scott. We stumble over to the Alamodome, where we arrive just in time to see the end of the Memphis practice. I use the term "practice" in the loosest of ways. This was more of a dunk contest than a practice and if basketball were only about hops, the Tigers would be National Champions.
Where you going, Mr. Beasley?
Despite the festive atmosphere of the arena, most of the talk on press row during the Memphis practice session is of the more sober variety. During the Kansas practice, reserve guard Rodrick Stewart slipped on a wet spot while going up for a dunk and fractured his right kneecap. No one thinks it will have too much of an effect on Kansas' chances against UNC, but the sad part is that Stewart's a senior who spent the last minutes of his college basketball career rolling around on the floor of the Alamodome with a broken bone. That's no bueno, muy no bueno.
After Memphis leaves the court, it's the Tar Heel's who emerge from the locker room. As compared to the Memphis practice session, the Tar Heels' is considerably more tame, at least until the last few minutes, when Roy Williams gives his players permission to put on an impromptu dunk clinic. Even tiny Ty Lawson gets in on the act, albeit unsuccessfully.
Oddly enough, the two teams I see practice today are my picks to make it to the Finals on Monday, and not just because I'm watching them warm-up. If Memphis plays as well as it did against Texas, the Tigers are unstoppable. Just watching them practice, every player looks cool, calm, collected and athletic. If you had no prior knowledge, it'd be tough to distinguish the starters from the reserves. Everyone on the team is that physically gifted. UNC has talent, too, but the Tar Heels didn't put their raw skill on display like Memphis did. Watching UNC practice, I got the sense that this is a team on a mission. The way the Tar Heels ran drills conveyed less pomp and more of a quite determination.
It's a beautiful day at the Alamodome.
After UNC's practice session, the party continues for Cyrus and me. We head back to locker room D, located in the bowls of the Alamodome, to hang out with one of the teams participating in The DiGiorno College All-Star Game. All of a sudden, I'm sitting there with DeMarcus Nelson and Jonathan Wallace and Shane Foster and Josh Duncan as they lace up their shoes. It's almost like I'm about to play in the college all-star game. Then, in walks Coach Oliver Purnell and Cyrus and I are treated to a quick pep-talk by the coach. Remember three things, Coach Purnell said. We must play to win, communicate and enjoy the experience.
As the players stream out of the locker room, I'm thinking: Damn right you've got to enjoy the experience. And this brings us back to the Texas obscenity statute and the Texas prohibition of the sale of "obscene devices." Coach Purnell just told me to enjoy the experience, but how can anyone really enjoy the ride if they've got the Man so far up in their business that they can't even exercise their right to buy an erotic instrument? Fortunately for Texans and freedom lovers everywhere, the Texas obscenity statute was overturned in February. So let the party begin.
Cyrus and I are going to do our part to celebrate the death of this silly statute. We're heading over to the CBS party tonight dressed like - yup, you got it - a couple of dildos.