We took in the National Championship game in Dallas, while hanging our hat at the Bud Light Hotel, and we are infinitely wiser for it. Here are the nuggets that we're coming home with.
1) Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright are champs. And UConn is a special team. In a sloppy game, UConn took the momentum out of the gate, and never relinquished the lead to the Wildcats. Napier and Boatwright had 34 points and an inconsequential ankle injury between them. The Huskies also went 10-for-10 from the line while Kentucky missed nine of their foul shots. The team that made less mistakes won, and UConn was that team.
2) Shabazz also got the last laugh. He literally demanded the attention of the arena before slamming the NCAA for their ban of the “Hungry Huskies” from last year's tournament. If someone else is going to be writing a good portion of your story, at least make sure you can write the ending.
3)College sports aren't going anywhere. Between rampant violations of (admittedly stupid) rules, the policing of the Galactic Empire, and the long overdue paying of players still miles away, the passion of the NCAA fans was nevertheless in full voice in the most-attended Final Four weekend ever.
4) Wisconsin shows up. Even after they were bounced by Kentucky's miracle three-pointer, the fans showed up in droves to the title game. Sure, they likely had tickets before their team's premature exit, but there was not one Gator fan to be seen in AT&T Stadium. Besides the alligator étouffée that the Huskies fans were eating in the parking lot, at least.
5)AT&T stadium is a salute to insanity. If there is not a golden statue of Jerry Jones somewhere in that stadium, it's in the works. The upper decks sit at a jetliner's cruising altitude and the famously enormous screen just made your prized flat-screen pee itself. In one hallway there is a six-foot portrait of a sculptor rendering Michael Irvin's head while Irvin sits for it. It's a humbling experience to be inside the stadium, and it's even more dwarfing when you realize that it was only built so Jones could have an awesome place to watch his “stories.”
6)Your bracket is busted. Only 0.2% of people picked UConn to win the title. There's a 99.8% chance that you weren't one of them.
7) Bud Light bought a hotel. Well, at least for the weekend. The brand sent out their “Mini Hoops Challenge” to bars all across the country, which held tournaments and sent the winners on an all-expense-paid trip to the Bud Light Hotel in Dallas, where they were treated to a concert, a watch party, and 16,000 Bud Lights. That's right, 16,000 Bud Lights were on the property, and based on what we saw, we'd have to guess there were about 27 or 28 left on Tuesday morning.
8) The Bud Light Hotel is the most fascinating cross-section of America. When the only criteria of getting in is being in a bar and being good at a ping-pong ball game, the scope of person you end up with is awe-inspiring. From twins who wore matching white suits and homemade Bud Light cowboys hats to a middle-aged Asian gentleman who liked nothing more than to cut a rug (for hours), this is what America really is and man, is it hard to look away.
9)The gym is scarcely used at the Bud Light Hotel. Seriously, if you need some alone time, just head on down to the free weights area.
10)John Calipari lost. And it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Photos by Richard W. Rodriguez / MCT / Landov