At first, there was no basketball. Then, suddenly: there was. It was cold in Springfield, Ohio, and the all the town’s boys were stuck in the gym. A man named James Naismith said to the boys, “Let’s go outside and stick our dicks in the snow,” because he was from Canada. The boys, Americans all, demurred. Naismith came up with a game for them to play in the gym, and he called it European Handball. The boys said, “Were you not reading the part about us being American? Get that weirdo bullshit out of here.”
“I have another idea,” said Naismith.
And thus basketball was born, or at least a primitive form of it in which there was no dribbling and you got a point for pegging an Irishman in the head with the ball. Over the years, the rules were refined and shorts were invented. One day, a guy showed up with a sweatband wrapped around his giant afro, and the game achieved a new paradigm. Today, basketball is the second-most popular sport in the world (after soccer), and this is possibly due to its duality: you can watch it or you can play it. You need a ton of people and equipment and room to play baseball, let alone tennis or golf or speed-skating, but you can play hoops anywhere. The sport is also amenable to wagering: there’s a billion permutations to bet on in every game, and then you can combinate the permutations and get yourself flat-busted in no time at all.
Next weekend, we will see the Final Four. Having been 64 teams, now only 4 remain; they shall battle, and the winning team shall be permitted to breed. This strengthens the genome.
But for whom should the conscientious Enthusiast root? (This is, of course, assuming that you didn’t attend any of the colleges. After all, alma mater is Latin for “institution whose tee-shirts I wear to bed.” If you went to one of the Final Four schools, you are exempt from this.) Which of the four teams is the most Grateful Dead?
We examine the question:
Kansas The Dead played the state of Kansas nine times, and four of those shows were in 1979: two in February and two in December. Does that seem like the best use of time, hitting Kansas City with double-barrels? Couldn’t they have gone when it was warmer? Kansas in February is so cold that it fired its Secretary of State by tweet.
Not only did the Dead play Kansas City (the city), but the Dead played Kansas City (the non-city). Bobby sang the Lieber/Stoller composition twice in concert, once on 10/28/85 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Was the other performance of Kansas City in Kansas City, you ask? Are you new here? Of fucking course they didn’t play it in Kansas City. They played it in Worcester, Mass. Of fucking course they did.
However, the college is in Manhattan, which is over a hundred miles from Kansas City (regardless of the fact that a hundred miles isn’t all that far in Kansas) and so Kansas is eliminated from contention.
Villanova The Dead played in Philly a shitload, but never at the suburban school known for basketball and its world-class motel management program. It is a Catholic institution, and several Grateful Deads were/are Catholic. Beyond that, I got nothing.
Also: they’re the Wildcats. If you’re not going to try, I’m not going to care, Villanova. Put some effort into your mascot.
Michigan Twice in ’71–two superb shows from December–and once in ’67, the Dead played the town of Ann Arbor; in ’79 and ’89, though, they played the Crisler Arena on campus. Unlike Villanova, the U of Michigan is not a Catholic school, and in fact contains many Hebrews. Similarly, Dead audiences contained many Hebrews. I’m gonna bet that Michigan had a rather healthy Deadhead frat. Also in Michigan’s favor: they are playing basketball and not football, and therefore no Gruden is involved.
Looking good for the Wolverines so far.
Loyola Listen, we all know the previous 600 words have been utter horseshit, and you don’t have a soul if you’re not rooting for Loyola.
- Cinderella story.
- They are from Chicago, and Barack Obama is from Chicago, and everyone misses Barack Obama but I don’t think he misses us.
- It is a Jesuit university, and Jesuits are Catholicism’s version of warrior-poets.
- Karla DeVito went there!
- You know Karla DeVito, even though you don’t know it.
- This is her:
- Karla fucking DeVito!
- (She’s lip-syncing. Ellen Foley sang the part on the record, but still: Karla fucking DeVito!)
- “Loyola” also sounds like a noise a very fancy gambler would make as he threw a pair of dice.
- “Here we go, here we go, LOYOLA!”
- Maybe it’s just me.
- Oh, and Sister Jean.
- I don’t wanna hear any cynical bullshit about Sister Jean.
- She’s all right.
And, finally, the Dead’s connection to the school: on 11/17/78, in the afternoon, the Dead (most of ’em, anyway) played an acoustic set in something called the Rambler Room, which was just a provincial name for the Student Union. Billed as the Bob Weir Band, they performed eight or nine tunes real loose-like. It looked like this:
As is customary, there are nothing but questions. This clearly wasn’t planned–Phil’s playing a borrowed Fender Precision and half the band is absent–and the band had no overt ties to the college. In addition, they literally never did this. What the fuck is wrong with you, Grateful Dead?
Disregarding the mysteries, we must award a thousand bonus points to Loyola for the uniquity of the occasion. Also: Sister Jean.
We are rooting for Loyola, Enthusiasts.