The Sweet 16 of Shame
Each March, the NCAA Tournament shines its spotlight on a group of men uniquely unfit for national media attention. There are the players, whose most notable achievement is having had high levels of human growth hormone in their bloodstream when they were 12; their coaches, former players who weren't sharp enough to make it as auto insurance salesmen; and don't forget about the pundits, whose résumés as failed coaches somehow qualify them to shout alliterated phrases on national television for an entire month.
So it's not surprising that the NCAA tournament is as notable for embarrassing blunders as it is for displays of heroics. What is surprising is the sheer number of ways the stars of the tournament manage to choke, overreact, under-perform and make general asses of themselves. Below, the 16 most cringe-inducing duke it out for supremacy.
Laettner's turn-around jumper is the most replayed tournament highlight of all time, making Hill's weepy reaction the most replayed instance of a man looking like a total bitch in tournament history.
An all-white Kentucky team, coached by hardcore racist Adolph Rupp, gets Jesse Owens-ed by Texas Western's all-black starting five, and dreamboat head coach Josh Lucas. (Yes, an all-white basketball team losing to a black team was shocking in 1966.)
NC State upsets Houston in the 1983 championship game, sending coach Jim Valvano on a magical sprint around the court, looking like a hysterical Iraqi mother mourning the loss of a child.
Georgetown's Fred Brown passes the ball directly to North Carolina's James Worthy in the closing seconds of the 1982 final. Brown went on to draw further ire by saying, "What can I say, black people all look the same to me."
The Orangemen become the first two seed to lose to a 15 seed, falling to Richmond in the first round. The Orangemen are inconsolable in the post-game locker room upon realizing just how completely fucked their brackets are.
In addition to sporting some of the ugliest blazers this side of Arvydas Sabonis, Keady always looked like he'd done his hair in the dark using a jar of Vaseline and a squeegee.
Moments after guiding Kansas to yet another tourney loss, Williams replies to Bonnie Bernstein's question about the UNC coaching job with an understated: "I could give a shit about Carolina." And then he went and accepted the job-we shit you not.
Arizona blows a 15-point lead with four minutes to play, sending Illinois to the 2005 Final Four. On the positive side, the Wildcats only blew a five-point lead with one minute to play.
Up Next: The Elite 8...
A year after beating Duke by 30 in the 1990 finals, the heavily favored and overly confident Runnin' Rebels lose to a couple of skinny white guys named Bobby Hurley and Christian Laetner, thrilling racists still reeling over Texas Western's 1966 win.
Dick Vitale. Billy Packer. Digger Phelps. A chimpanzee. Which one most often correctly predicts the tournament champion? (Note to Billy Packer: just because we used a chimp metaphor doesn't mean you should call Allen Iverson a tough little monkey again.)
Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas are upset in the 1985 championship game by a lightly regarded Villanova squad. Ewing later explained that he was simply practicing for a career of choking in the NBA playoffs.
Minutes into the 1995 regional final, Wallace elbows Kentucky's Andre Riddick, who responds by trying to choke him. Though attempted-murder seemed like a drastic over-reaction at the time, with twelve subsequent years of 'Sheed's whiny NBA career behind us, strangulation looks pretty prescient.
Up Next: The Final 4...
If you remember players being taller in the late '80s and early '90s, it's because they were-thanks to six inches of ridiculously angular hair.
For all the success Michael Jordan had in the NBA, his greatest accomplishment was ending the trend of nut-hugging basketball shorts. It got so bad in the late '80s that the NCAA had to institute a mandatory pre-game bikini wax for Rony Seikaly.
Hmm. Webber or Morrison in the finals. We need a timeout to think this decision through. Ah, fuck! We're out of timeouts. The biggest choke in NCAA basketball history was especially embarrassing for Webber considering how much Michigan boosters were paying him at the time.
Read on for the #1 Cringe-Worthy Moment in NCAA History...
Adam Morrison bawls uncontrollably before the final horn sounds during Gonzaga's loss to UCLA in the 2006 tournament. He was later consoled with a juice box and a Wiggles video. If this is how Morrison reacted to losing a basketball game, just imagine what he was like when he found out he has diabetes, or how he'll react when he realizes that he had a ridiculous moustache and He-Man's hairdo during the one month of his life that he was a national celebrity, or how he reacted when he realized that he's going to have to spend the rest of his career trying to explain away the crying jag, like in this incredibly uncomfortable commercial.
(During his college career, people were always comparing Morrison to Larry Bird. While we can't imagine Larry Legend weeping openly, we have to admit that Morrison's acting abilities are right on par with Bird's.)