Monthly Archives: December 2017

Why The Final Four Is The Best Sports

I am a Final Four junkie. I have been for the last twelve years in a row and wouldn’t miss it for anything. I am going to tell you why and why you should go.

I go with the same three guys every year. We have a routine and that adds to the enjoyment….we know the program. It is like a Special Forces unit. We don’t need to plan…we know immediately what we are all about.

One of the guys on our trip is the most successful basketball coach in Tennessee, Coach T. (He has state championship rings that make Super Bowl rings look small to prove my claim). This is our source of basketball knowledge and where things are happening during the week. This is important information when one attends the Final Four.

Another is J. D. He appreciates the fine wine, the good steaks, and big cigars which are an important part of the trip (My sister in Portland asks every year what we do on our trip and I answer “we drink whiskey, tell lies, and smoke cigars” to which she replies every year “Why do you leave town to do that?”) In addition to being a good guy, J. D. knows the words to every oldie ever recorded.

And then there’s Sheldon. If you know anybody named “Sheldon”, then you know what I am talking about here. Guys named Sheldon are ticked off when they are born because of their name. As a result, they bitch about everything. Sheldon makes the married guys appreciate their wives (because the wives don’t bitch as much as he does) and the unmarried guys get a dose of what they’re missing by not being married. Sheldon starts complaining at the airport when we leave and doesn’t stop until we get back. We wouldn’t dream of the trip without him.

Armed with that bit of background, let’s go directly to why the Final Four is THE sporting event of the year and why you should plan to go.

First of all, the Final Four people have got it right. They pick the best cities for the event….lots of hotel rooms, big venue for the game (I didn’t say GOOD…I said BIG…more on this later), and good food. They get the best cities and well they should. This year’s site is Atlanta, which rests my case. The place becomes a giant sports party for almost a full week. And this is because…

There are four teams involved with loads of fans. This separates this event from the others…Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, name it…they involve two teams. The Final Four has FOUR teams, all equipped with crazy fans and supporters, and they are everywhere. Bars, restaurants, malls, everywhere are fans with team logos and caps. You can simply walk into a bar or restaurant and yell one of the team’s names and bingo; immediate bonding. The whole city is a buzz all week (this is always true with the exception of when the Final Four was in New York a few years ago…that place wouldn’t buzz if Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein squared off in a death match at Madison Square Garden).

The place is crawling with basketball celebrities. You should be aware that the National Association of Basketball Coaches has their annual convention during the Final Four. This is high school AND college coaches, so all the big names are hanging out there during the week. They’re eating out, swapping resumes, telling lies, and you can see them all week. There is an observable food chain that has the mid-college coaches sucking up to the major college athletic directors hoping to get hired. The major college coaches are brown nosing the more successful college Athletic Directors looking to move up. Feeding at the bottom of the pond are the high school coaches who are dreaming of being hired by any of them. Coach T. gets us into the hangouts where they are hanging out and it’s cool to be there. The spot of the week is the central hotel of the coaches’ convention. This is where the action is all week. It is also a “must go to” spot during the week because:

You can get tickets. As I mentioned before, the venues for the Final Four are big. This means you can get tickets! You don’t have to have them before you go to the Final Four city. Simply head for the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) main hotel and hang out in the lobby. You’ll be surrounded by people selling and buying tickets (tip here…if you are buying, wait as close to tip-off on Saturday as you can. That’s when costs go down. Don’t buy early in the week. If you are selling, sell early during the week. Know the city laws regarding scalping before you begin this exercise).

Also, be aware that unless you are willing to pay mega bucks for tickets, your seats will suck! You’ll get in, but your seats will be bad.

If you register for the lottery and you are drawn to buy tickets, you seats will be so bad that they will tell you on the ticket that these seats are in “distant viewing” sections. This means “they suck”.

These are amateur players and fans. As a sports fan, I have been fortunate to have attended scores of professional games. Major league and minor league baseball, NBA games, NFL, NHL; I’ve been to all of them.

The Final Four doesn’t have the “oily” feel of some professional sports and its players.

For example, some of the NBA All Star events attended by the pros were described as decadent. You get a Super Bowl participant disappearing for the weekend of the game. At World Series time, some players are so juiced they can barely fit their heads into their batting helmets.

You won’t hear of or see players and their entourages acting stupid at the Final Four. You will see young, clean, well behaved young men and their coaches acting proudly and as a team. They’re kids alright, and they do kid things, but on the whole, you won’t see any trouble from this bunch.

There are three games during the weekend. Count’em…THREE! Where else do you go for national championships and get to watch so much action in such a small amount of time.

There are great stories about coaches and athletes. With four teams and over 50 players, great human interest stories are found which add to the fun. The local newspaper (along with all the national press and television) covers the Final Four during the week like nothing else. You’ll find yourself pulling for an underdog or maybe a player or two who has a neat story behind him.

The cities show their best sides. Due to the number of teams involved, in addition to the coaches who come to their convention, I would guess that the Final Four draws more fans than any other sporting event. The host city knows this.

Everywhere you go, signs are displayed welcoming you to the city. Beginning at the airport, you see signs on billboards, city streets, shops, bars, restaurants, name it. The cities know this is a profitable week and they welcome the fans wholeheartedly.

Coach T., J. D., Sheldon and I pack our duds and golf clubs and head to the host city Wednesday of Final Four week. We find a sports bar Wednesday night and begin the week visiting with other Final Four attendees and watching sports news for Final Four information. Coach T. heads to a few coaches conference events Thursday before we tee off at a local golf course which has been selected during the year. Sheldon bitches about the greens fees and course itself.

That night, after a fun round of golf, we head to a local chop house which has been selected based on the size of the steaks served and the cigar friendliness of the bar. Our selections through the years have included Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Manny’s Steak House, Shula’s, Bern’s, St. Elmos, and more of the best steak houses in the country. In Atlanta, we’ll be at McKendricks, Ruth’s Chris, and New York Prime.

Friday is a direct clone of Thursday, with the addition of an afternoon visit to the sports distribution shops where we stock up on Final Four stuff to bring home to friends and family. This is what Sheldon lives for and as far as we can tell is the only part of the trip he likes. After whining for the whole week, he takes back home a couple of hundred bucks worth of junk to give out and tell everybody how much fun he had.

Saturday is game day. After a couple of pounds of beef, various appetizers, assorted cocktails and wines, three or four cigars apiece, and a lot of lies and related tomfoolery, we four amigos are moving slow on Saturday. This is perfect time for the games. J. D. and I are less talkative than usual, Coach T. needs a basketball fix, and nobody wants to be around Sheldon; perfect timing for the games.

The “must do” on Saturday is to head for the coaches convention central hotel. This is where it all happens. You’ll see coaches you recognize from television along with all the scalpers, buying and selling tickets reminiscent of the scenes of Wall Street traders you see on TV.

You’ll notice as you look at the tickets offered by the scalpers that there are tickets for all three games in the pack (two on Saturday and the final game on Monday night). For those of us who leave to come back on Sunday (Coach T. has to get back to school), those Monday night games have real value when the teams that make the final game have last minute fans who want to come to the final game. These fans have friends already there that are saying “get me a ticket and I’ll come”, which means you can sell the bad seats that you bought for Saturday to another stooge for Monday.

Of course, any effective Special Forces unit has a “Plan B” and so do we. Assuming that no acceptable tickets are found for the games, we will have a highly recommended local sports bar mapped out and ready for takeover in an emergency (maybe my sister was right).

Then walk into ANY restaurant or bar Saturday after the games and that will be what is discussed…the games. All you need do is sit down and start talking to someone about the events of the games. This is more of what separates the Final Four from any other event. For those whose week is winding down, like us, there is reflection on the great time that we have had. For others, such as fans of the teams in the final game, the week is just beginning.

Your Best Sports Collection

Autographed sports items are a multi-million dollar industry and sports items having the Michael Jordon autograph are even popular with the basketball fans. Though it is not hard to get sports items autographed by him but it is not also readily available.

The reason behind the popularity of Michael Jordon’s autographed sports items is that he is a ‘living legend’ in basketball and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in the year 2009. This honor made the market for signed items by him all the more popular among sports enthusiasts. You would get various items signed by him in the online stores but before buying them, make sure that what you are buying is a real item and not a fake.

Some of the items having Michael Jordon’s autograph on them, and the popular ones among the sports enthusiasts are the autographed basketball, autographed jersey, photographs.

If you want to make your collection an elite one then you must go for a Michael Jordon autographed basketball. You would get Wilson basketball signed by him from the online stores and this is truly a wonderful item to be on your collection.

Another excellent collection to have in your list is the red jersey with the #23 on it signed by him. #23 is synonymous with Michael Jordon’s career and a jersey with this number is recognizable world wide as his signature jersey. Having one such jersey in your collection would increase the value of your collection.

A photograph of his in his famous “Jumpman” logo is another excellent collection to have. This is a historical moment in basketball and the framed photograph of Michael Jordon in this flying pose is the best moment of his life. Therefore, as a sports enthusiast this photograph with his signature should be a part of your basketball memorabilia collection.