Greg Gumble: Welcome to March Madness, on CBS. This is your host, Greg Gumble, bringing you the latest, along with a panel of experts, on the exciting story of this tournament, a story that has a 16 seed trying to win a title. They want to call this a Cinderella story, but they will have to rewrite that fairy tale if this team wins out.
Greg Gumble: We have with us today, Shaka Smart, the youthful and thoughtful VCU coach, who just joined our network. We also have with us, for this special presentation, two more voices. We have Bob Knight, a long-time winning coach who is not afraid to stick to what works for him, as evidenced by his frequent opposition to change and the way he bites back. We also have Charles Barkley, a big man of the game who is unafraid of trying something new, as evidenced by such things as his strange predictions and his weight loss program. Clearly, neither of these men are shy about stating their opinions.
Greg Gumble: Let’s start with you, Shaka. We are talking today about No-One College, a team from a school whose student body is only 5% of the largest school in the tournament. Were it not for a change to the NCAA by-laws, which was initiated on behalf of really small schools by the Massachusetts and Vermont delegations, a school this small would not even have the right to play. As you know, they have surprised everyone by making it to the final four, an unprecedented feat, but do you really think this 16 seed has any chance to hang in there any longer, much less win the final game?
Shaka Smart: Well Greg, this team certainly has the right to be playing for the same title as everyone else. Just because they part their hair differently than the other teams, it doesn’t mean they aren’t committed. In fact, except for a few preferences, this team is no different from any other team. They dribble. They pass. They make shots. And they work hard along the way. And yet, while my heart is with them, I am not sure this tournament is ready to accept No-One as a fellow competitor, much less a winner.
Greg Gumble: Thanks Shaka. Let’s now turn to Bob Knight. Your thoughts?
Bob Knight: Look Greg, the name No-One fits this team, because that is what and who they are, nothing and noone. This game is about tradition. There is nothing traditional about this team, in my opinion. With all due respect to Shaka, I think that how they part their hair does make a difference. Hell, their hair is too damn long anyway. And where did they get those ridiculous uniforms. It is too much “in your face” for my taste. Mark my words. This team will be sent back to where they came from and I hope they stay there.
Charles Barkely: Knight, you are a real pill. When was the last time you thought about trying or accepting something new. I bet you eat prunes for breakfast and still only have three channels on your TV. You probably haven’t tried the internet yet, for fear you might catch something if you do. Grow up man and meet a changing world.
Bob Knight: You’re one to talk, Charles. This is not just about letting No-One compete, which never should have happened to begin with. It is about letting them take over the game. They don’t just want to win a title. They want everyone to play like they do. It’s a damn sin, if you ask me.
Greg Gumble: [Looking uncomfortable] Gentlemen, gentlemen, let’s try to look at this civilly. Shaka, your thoughts?
Shaka Smart: Well, Greg, I don’t believe that No-One creates a threat to the traditional way that teams have played the game. Teams can still play the game the way they want to play it, and they certainly will have success doing so. Just because there is another team like No-One participating in the tournament and doing things differently doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be like them in order to accept them.
Bob Knight: Look, let me be clear, the fundamentals of this game have not changed for over a hundred years. These people want to change those fundamentals for everyone. It’s not right.
Charles Barkley: Here’s what’s wrong, Bob. It’s the fact we are even having this silly conversation. No-One has earned the right to be here. They pay their fees to the governing body just like everyone else, and they contribute their many talents to the game. You can’t just treat them like a junior varsity team.
Greg Gumble: [Laughing] Well, it’s time for our break, but before we go, I want to thank the panel for their interesting perspectives and remind you, the audience, that you have a voice in this conversation as well. Whether No-One wins or loses the title game in this tournament will not stop the debate. I have a feeling that No-One will keep on trying until people in this game begin to accept rather than be afraid of their way of playing this great game. After all, the game belongs to all of us.
Post script: With all the seriousness in this debate, I needed to lighten things up a bit. In case anyone thinks the quotes in this post are real, and I doubt you do, they are not. It is an attempt at parody, with the hope of making a few points along the way. Further, my apologies to Bob Knight and Charles Barkley. I have no idea how they would vote on Amendment One if given the chance. For all I know, Bob Knight would equate the supporters of Amendment One with the NCAA and tell them to go fly a kite, but with a bit more color in his words. I hope Charles is the way I portray him. I see Shaka Smart as representing the concerned realist in this discussion, a person who has the heart for the underdog but a concern about his or her chance for success on May 8th.