April 02, 2007

In the mouth of a Gator

Does anyone know how to get confetti out of a keyboard? Seriously, that's the problem I'm facing as I type this after Florida's 84-75 win over Ohio State. And when you think about it, isn't that the perfect metaphor for this whole crazy/beautiful trip?

We’re in Atlanta, of course. And after the final buzzer sounded, we were at center court, jumping up and down like lottery winners, with the repeat champ Gators.

That look in Noah's eye says back-to-back, baby.

Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon infamously crashed the Red Sox World Series celebration at Busch Stadium in 2005. On Monday night, Jake and I were Drew and Jimmy, (albeit with worse hair). I gotta admit, if I were one of the UF fans pinned behind the ropes by the Romonowski-esque security force, like Sox nation with the rom com duo, I'd have been pissed at us, too. In our defense, we kind of deserved to be in the middle of the mayhem.

For dessert Tuesday night we'll take in the women's final in Cleveland, but for all intents and purposes, this was the big finale of the Odyssey. We sat at midcourt, three rows back, close enough to hear the psht-psht of cheerleaders’ pom-poms brushing together and watched Greg Oden's Sisyphean effort to keep the Buckeyes in the game. Every time he'd swat the rock, it would be deflected into Gators’ hands only to swish back through the net.


It may not have been the best end to what was not the best tournament in the history of college basketball, but we're not complaining. You think you’re into fantasy sports? This trip was the definition of fantasy sports.

Even the big man's got to stretch it out.

In the history of college basketball, no two wise guy journos have had this experience. Right now I'm wearing a bright white, XXL Back-to-Back National Champs tee scored from a generous Florida team manager. I'm stinky with Joakim Noah's sweat after he shook out his mane like a wet dog. Asked how it felt to go out as a champ, senior forward Chris Richard replied, "It feels great. We did a great job and had a lot of fun doing it." He took the words out of our mouths.

My only regret: That, as the rainbow streamers fell from the rafters, I didn't have the cajones to grab a Gator Dazzler and plant one on her like a WWII soldier returning from the war. Next year? Probably not.

The USMC put on one hell of a halftime show.

“Once in a lifetime” has been our cliched response to inquirers asking how the trip was unfolding. And it was. But we mean that in two ways: It was a unique opportunity, the ultimate dream for hoops junkies like ourselves; but also about all a body could handle. Our trip was a combination of the book On the Road and the movie “Supersize Me.” I’ve aged two years in the last three months.

Tomorrow Jake will be your dutiful scribe. For me, this is the end. So, this is your captain signing off. Hope you enjoyed the ride. I certainly did.

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Posted by Matt Waxman at 11:03 PM | Comment