Another reason why I love the NCAA Men’s hoop tourney: It’s how my very best ‘brush with fame’ story came to be.

Spring of 1983. I was sitting on a mostly deserted press row as a newbie sportswriter, covering a Western Regional doubleheader in Corvallis, Oregon. As I watched underdog Princeton tangle with Oklahoma State, I noticed a guy take the empty seat next to me. I did a double-take — it was the the coach of the winning team in the first game! His motley team had just survived a two point win over heavy underdog Pepperdine and he looked completely wiped out. Without so much as an introduction, he started a running commentary to me like I was his best friend. 

For the next three hours he jabbered nonstop in his rich Queens, New York accent, teaching me more about basketball that I had accumulated in my previous 23 years of life.

Three weeks later, he coached his team to the biggest upset in college basketball history, taking down the vaunted Phi Slamma Jamma Houston Cougars. I’ll never forget my private coaching clinic from the irrepressible Jim Valvano.

(Why do I hear the late Paul Harvey’s voice intoning: “and now you know…. the rest of the story”.. Good DAY!)

Here we go — introducing your John Edwards Regional Bracket. (If you’re wondering what in the hell this is all about, go here.)  This is the best of…. They’re the top…

Well, let’s just say we’ve selected males in the sports, political and business arena. Past and present. Dead or alive. Real or imaginery. Guys who would produce….fascinating….gestational surrogate offspring.

I’ll introduce them in order of their first round pairings. At the top of the bracket, our number one seed:

(1) Wilt Chamberlain vs. (16) Figure Skater Johnny Weir. The Big Dipper vs. Feathers and Fur. Experience most definately in Wilt’s favor. He claims to have slept with 20,000 women.

Weir? Uh, considerably less.

(2) Hugh Hefner vs. (15) The Burger King. With the Girls Next Door serving as cheerleaders, the edge goes to Hef although I still expect a Whopper of a game out of the King.

(3) Lance Armstrong vs. (14) Kobayashi (Hot Dog Eating Champion). It’s a great matchup.

A guy who crams a huge quantity of unnatural substances into his body for the sole purpose of winning championships versus a guy who loves him some hot dogs.

(4) Tiger Woods, pre-Thanksgiving 2009 edition vs. (13)  Attila the Hun. Epic contest here! A guy who conquers all, pillages and plunder women against…..uh, same kind of guy.

(5) Dick Cheney vs. (12) Montgomery Burns. Whoa. Another mirror image first round matchup! Prince of darkness X 2.

(6) Al Gore vs. (11) David Beckham. Gore thought he had the top seed but lost out on a recount. (rim shot). Beckham gets in for his foreign passport and as eyecandy for the female readers of this blog.

(7) Roy Hobbs (the hero in the move, The Natural) vs. (10) Donald Trump. 

The Natural vs. The Donald. Feel good against feel bad. 

(8) Mike Tyson vs. (9) Darth Vader. Good thing Vader wears a helmet; no risk of losing an ear.

So there’s half of your Men’s bracket. The Selection Commitee had a tough time narrowing this field down. Think of the luminaries who didn’t make it in? Barry Bonds. Bill Clinton. Terrell Owens.

The Vatican.

Tomorrow, we’ll go across the bracket to the Women’s side. We’ll preview the female actresses and singers who are nominated in our Field of 64. Otherwise known as the Paris Hilton Regional Bracket.

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