Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
4/01/2006 10:54:00 AM
Stars And Stars
INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2005 Final Four turned out to be a star-studded event: His Airness was there to watch his alma mater win the title, looking on from a luxury box at Edward Jones Dome. Bill Murray, an Illinois guy, was in the stands, as were Jay-Z and Beyonce. John Edwards came to St. Louis to support his employer, UNC. And most of the attendees at last year's Friday-night CBS party were looking for some excuse to start a conversation with Vince Vaughn (but didn't actually do it).
The 2006 Final Four, on the other hand, may not be sexy enough to draw a crowd of celebs. Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman mentioned college hoops in his acceptance speech -- thanking his mom in part because "she stayed up with me and watched the NCAA Final Four" -- this year, but the only movie industry figure I've seen thus far (I think, from a distance) is Spike Lee, who was in the stands watching Florida practice on Friday at the RCA Dome.
In a weekend where basketball takes center stage, the biggest non-participant celebs may actually be Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Duke's J.J. Redick. Both are here in Indy to accept various player of the year awards, and the duo split the U.S. Basketball Writers' Association honor on Friday. I make the "celebs" comment based on observations from Thursday night's Intersport party (that's the organization that runs the college 3-point and slam dunk contest), which was held at a restaurant/club called Lulu's.
The contest participants -- well-known guys like West Virginia's Kevin Pittsnogle, Marquette's Steve Novak, Michigan State's Maurice Ager and Illinois' Dee Brown -- were able to mingle amongst the crowd, but when Redick and Morrison, the dual SI cover boys, walked in, you could see heads turning all over the club. And while Redick may be winning more hardware -- including today's AP Player Of The Year award -- people treated Morrison like more of a rock star, giving him those awkward, star-stalking stares and stopping him to pose for all kinds of cell-phone pictures. I sent a one-word text message to SI's Grant Wahl, who authored the cover story on the two stars, and wasn't at the club yet: "RedMo." (If you've read the story, you'll get that. TomKat. Brangelina. RedMo.) I think it expedited his arrival.