I remember the first time College Basketball caught my attention. It was 1979, when Larry Bird took on Ervin 'Magic' Johnson in the College Basketball finals.
I was in the 3rd grade and had just begun playing basketball myself. We had a principal at our small, rural school in New Bloomfield, Missouri that thought we would benefit from some sort of organized basketball at an early age. So, he put it all together.
I liked playing and was better at defense than offense. I learned that I could block shots. After all, I had read a book about Bill Russell that I checked out from the Book Mobile. Ha. Does anyone remember those?
As we filed out of the bus after a tournament on a Saturday, Mr. Sales, the Principal that drove us to the games, matter-of-factly said "There's going to be a great game on, you should watch Larry Bird play".
He was right. From then on, I followed the player known as "Larry Legend".
In my opinion, there will never be sports that can equal the great match-ups of the 80's NBA (Ali's epic title fights being the only possible exception). Bird-n-Magic saved the NBA and made it must see TV.
I'll tell you more about my own basketball playing days another time, but, the point is, I'm a big fan. I love the game. It's so fluid and athletic. Basketball IQ matters. Grit, toughness and desire, as Bird would show us all, matters as much as anything. I think that basketball, more than any other sport, has moments of sheer greatness. If you are OK with Eminem's explicit lyrics and some low-rez video, here is a great Larry Bird highlight mix.
I digress. Ha.
College Basketball. It's still got it. The tournament is one of the greatest sporting events each year. 48 games in four days. The Buzzer Beaters. Cinderellas. Pandemonium reigns as the little guy takes his best shot.
There's just one problem. Fans like to play along and the brackets do not live up to the greatness of the tournament.
I've been playing a better game with friends and family for the last 25 years. It's called 13 Unbracketed.
A while back it dawned on me that this is a game that everyone could play if I developed the idea. I'm a creative in advertising, so it wasn't a stretch to put together a team that could bring this to life. A few years later and here we are. I'm a believer and a champion of this game.
As Mr. Sales once tipped me off, I'll do the same for you. There's going to be a great game being played this March. It's called 13 Unbracketed. You should play it.
Let me know if I'm right.