Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 18:10:21 EST
From: Brad Grissom <BGRISSOM@UKCC.UKY.EDU>
Subject: Brad Grissom / interviewed by Neal Traven
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

NT: How does it feel to be camp follower to an arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou basketball dynasty?

BG: Cmon, Neal, that's a loaded question.

NT: Why is it a loaded question?

BG: I don't know, "loaded question" seemed like a good comeback.

NT: Answer the question, please.

BG: First off, look at the last 30 years of college hoops. Which is already taking us back to ancient history. UK has been in 6 Final Fours in that era:

1966 - UK ignored the civil-rights revolution and loses the title game

1975 - Great team, uses up everything against Indiana, cannot beat the untouchable Wooden in his last game (now *there*'s a dynasty)

1978 - Champions, but everyone outside the state remembers them as grim mercenaries who karate-chopped their way to the top

1983 - Against Georgetown, UK shoots 13% in the second half. Yep, God sure is on our side

1993 - Overtime loss to Michigan; Pitino restores credibility to a reviled and punished program

1996 - (presumptive) second title...

NT: You wish.

BG: Let me finish. If this is a dynasty, uneasy lies the crown and so forth. There are no dynasties, only a perennial crowd of pretenders in modern TV-driven college basketball. Indiana (3 crowns), and the twofers--Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Louisville--and then the rest you always see there (some with a title, some without). The composition changes over time; I doubt UNLV and Houston will ever be contenders again, but Cincinnati seems to be back after a long absence. It would be healthy for the game to have some middle seeds break out of the pack and challenge every other tournament or so. Somebody like Drexel or Texas Tech.

NT: Pardon me for saying so, Brad, but this fascination with trophy accumulation seems to me to cry out for therapy.

BG: Yeah, I know, I've been reading the official NCAA Final Four program, and it gets to you after a while. Besides, would it break Roger Angell's heart if the Red Sox won the World Series?

NT: What about the pious arrogance part?

BG: Because WAVE-TV used to preempt Saturday Night Live? Please, Neal, there are sentient beings reading this interview.

NT: The stubborn refusal to play U of L for so long?

BG: Misguided bureacratic inertia. Who has dominated the series since they reinstated it?

NT: I'm asking the questions here, by the way.

BG: Sorry, I forgot my place.

NT: Let's move on to the games themselves...

BG: You're not going to ask about Kentucky fans?

NT: Mindless clods, for the most part.

BG: But the sense of community, the spirit that unites the Commonwealth in a single purpose...

NT: Bullshit.

BG: Please. Call it pablum if you will, but remember that pablum is nutritious.

NT: Gack. Who writes your lines?

BG: A nifty program I bought out at Best Buy.

NT: Did you really paint your toenails blue after last night's game?

BG: Only the left index finger so far. Do you know how hard blue nail polish is to find?

NT: Did you doubt that UK would win when UMass pulled within three late?

BG: No, really I didn't. Times past, I might have wilted at that point-- so many disappointments, Neal--but last night I just said, "Take it to 'em, baby!" And they did.

NT: So you were confident the whole way through?

BG: I had a sinking feeling during the Road to the Final Four pregame. You know, the segment about Camby's collapse, wheeling his unconscious body into Mass General, then the freeze frames of the little dead boy that Camby befriended, the suffering father, the soap-opera music, Calipari telling the team, "No matter what happens, we've WON." This was not fair. We have to play against lupus too?

NT: TV did similar stuff when Pitino's infant son died.

BG: You're right. I cried during that one too.

NT: Do you have any other complaints about CBS's coverage?

BG: Other than the clueless Raveling and the witless Buckner, no. Top-dollar stuff. Hey, you wanna hear my Russell Walters imitation?

         Identify this chicken.
         That's a white brooder-broiler.
         What is it bred for?
         To lay good aigs.

NT: Needs some work, Brad.

BG: Well, he's got a perfect north Mississippi accent. I hope Natalie tuned in early enough to catch that part.

NT: Speaking of Natalie, what do you think of her surprising run to the Final Four?

BG: Hasn't she been a hoot? Like she said to herself, OK, I'll play this stupid basketball game for a while, but then she really got into it, man. I believe she was really pissed when she heard that the regalia makers had no plans to print MSU championship t-shirts.

NT: A sound business decision, especially with just-in-time delivery contingencies in place. But I can't believe Natalie turned off the TV when the Dawgs were still within striking distance.

BG: Hah! I don't believe for a minute she turned off the TV.

NT: What happened to State?

BG: You want impartial analysis of the floor play, ask Marty. I'm here to comment on the sociocultural aspects of the event.

NT: And what are those aspects?

BG: The myth of the $5000 ticket for one. I coulda put you on the floor underneath the Kentucky basket for $400, easy. Even this market is going to dry up as the digital revolution progresses.

NT: What on earth are you talking about?

BG: The future, man. We must stop building these domed stadia, and find alternative uses for the ones we have. Crossword puzzle conventions maybe.

NT: Have you ever been to a Final Four?

BG: Sure. 1982, New Orleans. It sucked bigtime. I watched the Monday final in a bar.

NT: Are you afraid of Syracuse?

BG: "Face your fears. Live your dreams."

NT: Is that original with you?

BG: Nah, it's in the program. Page 173. See? Neat design, huh?

NT: Are you afraid of Paul Barfoot?

BG: Hey, man, I love Br Paul. He's a regular kind of guy, and unconventional too, know what I mean? Librarian, loves his work, curates Margaret Bourke-White photographs, takes care of his family. But he doesn't drive, runs off to Siberia every so often to sing and dance or something. Very laconic poster. Seems to have a life away from the list. Catches up on Monday mornings with selective pithy remarks. Paul and me, we go back a long ways. He was one of the first people on this list to send me backchannel mail. I didn't know he cared about basketball until here lately. But I don't have a Sagarin or RPI on him.

NT: Laying it on a bit thick, aren't you?

BG: Got to cushion a potential fall, Neal.

NT: Call the game, big guy.

BG: Wildcats 76 Orangepeople 68. Write it down.

NT: I will. Say, one last question. You ever play the game?

BG: Neal, I had the purest shot. Used to practice for hours down at the gym. But I couldn't dribble, and I couldn't shoot under pressure.

NT: Ain't life grand?

BG: You betcha, champ.