The way it should be: March Madness winds up this week after a month of showcasing the best college-age basketball players in America.
The way it is: March Madness winds up this week after a month of showcasing about half of the best college-age players. The other half are holding down folding chairs in the NBA and trying to remember if they're in Cleveland or Memphis.
Guys like Kirk Haston, who would have been a senior at Indiana this season, and Zach Randolph, a would-be Michigan State sophomore, aren't getting more than six minutes a game in the NBA. Omar Cook, who would have been a sophomore at St. John's, is making $27,500 in the National Basketball Development League. "Missing Senior Night hurt," says Haston, who sits on the Charlotte Hornets' bench. "I wrote my speech my freshman year."
The way it should be: No. 1 seed DePaul, with seniors Quentin Richardson and Bobby Simmons, junior Steve Hunter and freshman Eddy Curry, is favored to win the NCAA title for coach Pat Kennedy.
The way it is: Kennedy resigned last month after DePaul went 9-19, mostly because those players are all in the NBA. "With those four guys," Kennedy says with a sigh, "we could've started the janitor at point guard and won the national title."
The way it should be: Basketball has never been healthier. College players roll out of the star-making machinery of March Madness, graduate and then move on to the glory of the NBA.
The way it is: Basketball has never been sorrier. The quality of play in college and the pros is lower than Mini-Me's knees. The underclassmen-riddled NCAA champions of today would get their tattoos rearranged by the senior-dominated teams of the past. The NBA is paying millions to babies in the hope that they grow up to be men. Many of the teenagers lose their confidence and bust like Yugos, leaving a void of real stars in the pros. Or do you think it's a good thing that Allen Iverson is about to win the scoring title with the lowest shooting percentage since 1948?
The way it should be: Freshman Kwame Brown leads Florida into the Final Four, a moment he has dreamed of since the sixth grade.
The way it is: Kwame Brown, the NBA's No. 1 draft choice last summer, traded that dream for a spot on the Washington Wizards' bench. As the NCAA tournament plays out, the 20-year-old Brown will be winding up a 13-day, seven-game road trip. "Man, I really miss my bed," he says. He sat in a hotel room and watched helplessly as the school he signed with, Florida, lost in the first round. "I think I was in Portland," he recalls. "Or was it LA.?" (Actually, it was Seattle.)
The way it should be: Fans thrilled to the moves of Duke All-America Kobe Bryant, Michigan star Kevin Garnett and Kentucky hero Tracy McGrady.