March 29, 2007

Fear and loathing in Hotlanta

If you love balding men who wear golf shirts and do basketball for a living, you gotta get down here fast. Seriously, it's like they've started their own colony in the downtown Atlanta Marriott lobby. If I didn't know better I would've thought pleated pants were back in style.

Pretty soon you won't have Matt and Jake to kick around anymore.

The entire who's-who list of college basketball lifers have shown up in Atlanta for the Final Four. Head and assistant coaches at every level, from D-I to JUCO, are all here glad handing and back slapping. Announcers from networks not broadcasting the games are here getting their fix of insider chit-chat. College seniors, here to participate in various all-star challenges, are clogging the Quizno's lines.

Women, you ask? Not so much. The next one I see will be there first.


As we approach the end of the road trip, our hoops saturation level is intensifying. We can't shake free. On our flight from Louisville this morning were a bunch of McDonald's All-Americans. We watched with amusement as they unsuccessfully pleaded with attendants for exit rows. Our hotel is an MC Escher-esque monstrosity with double-back walkways and stairwells that wind endlessly like snail shells stacked atop one another. I keep hoping to look up and see Hunter Thompson peering over the balcony, comparing Billy Donovan's twister routine (one foot in Gainesville, one foot in Lexington, one arm in Miami) to Daniel Ellsberg's decision to release of the Pentagon Papers.

In actuality it’s probably better that the good doctor isn’t here. It's hard enough rolling with this scene while playing it straight. Trying to deal here after two tabs of acid, a whack of peyote, and a horse tranquilizer to the neck is probably scarier than any low-rate Vegas casino.

This is the Escher-esque view up from our room at the Marriot.

At this very moment in the lobby, Illinois' coach Bruce Weber and Pittsburgh's Jaime Dixon are at the center of their own cliques, fifteen feet apart. Dixon's going with the full Pitt practice jumpsuit, while Weber, much shorter in person than you'd imagine, has a nice vacation look going: conservative Hawaiian shirt and, if I remember correctly, a pair of classy olive shorts.

On my hunt for a decent diner I had Bo Ryan (Wisco) and Seth Greenberg (Vir Tech) sightings. Earlier in the day we spotted the Big O, Oscar Robertson, one of the 10 greatest players of all time, strolling through the Hyatt lobby unrecognized, except by us. Dickie V's here, of course, though at this point, I'm almost more surprised when I peel back the shower curtain and he's not there.

After ninety-something games in less than three months, you’d think we were basketball-ed out. But all this power schmoozing makes me drowsy. Can someone do me a favor and wake me when the games begin? Or the girls get here?

Whichever comes first.

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Posted by Matt Waxman at 11:21 PM | Comment