An open letter to NBA nerds at the start of the NCAA Tournament


College basketball's annual spectacle begins Thursday. Paul Flannery asks NBA heads to handle it with care.

Dear fellow NBA heads,

I know, right? It's that time of the year again. Time when college basketball takes over and pushes all of our hot takes about who will wind up with the third seed in the Eastern Conference off the main page, relegating us to the sports gutter along with spring training baseball.

I feel you. College hoops are slow, the 3-point line is too short and that stupid 35-second shot clock is ridiculous. The coaches get too much airtime, way too many timeouts and they still can't draw up a halfway decent last-second set. Personally, I'd love to see Rick Carlisle coach a team with sixth-seed talent for one year so we could put this myth about the superiority of college coaching to rest once and for all.

Not only that, but suddenly everyone is an expert about who can play in the league next year. Every time a 6'1 guard who can't create a shot makes a three or an undersized big man grabs a board people want to know if he's a lottery pick. Spoiler alert: No.

Plus, it's not even that great a year for NBA talent. The best teams are driven by upperclassmen (read: scrappy, undersized and limited) and without Kentucky it will be grim this year. It will be earnest. It will be smug. It will be Nantzian.

All that said, here's my appeal during the NCAA Tournament: Don't be an NBA snob.

There's no need. We all know that the pro game is vastly superior and that everything that happened on Wednesday, from the batshit insane Cavs-Heat game to the Grizzlies manic overtime win over OKC, was better than anything we'll see over the next few days.

But college fans don't care and you're not going to convert any of them anyway. They'll come at you with their idealistic notions about how the games mean more or are more exciting than a random NBA Tuesday. That's fine. People like what they like. That's why we have League Pass.

Be happy with your life choices and secure in your convictions. We can congratulate each other on our enlightened views about phony amateurism and exploited labor, but honestly, I'd rather hear about your busted bracket than your moral superiority. On second thought, no one cares about your bracket either.

We've got half of April, all of May and most of June to revel in the subtle genius of 1-2 pick and rolls and defensive rotations, so give the college bros their three weeks. Besides, there are worse things than having all-day-long basketball dominate the sports agenda.

You've got two choices here. You can spend the tournament preaching to your own Twitter choir or you can embrace the dark side of the madness and root like hell against Cinderella or for Coach K to spontaneously combust in a seething torrent of anger against some overmatched referee from the Ohio Valley Conference. Maybe Digger's hi-liter will explode. It's all good. Just check the snobbery at the door.

Yours in Popovichology,


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