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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Biggest shock of March Madness? Noah contest

Thursday, March 30, 2006

As usual, this year's edition of the NCAA Tournament has provided its share of surprises.

If nothing else, the annual rite known as March Madness is known for a shocking turn of events on an annual basis, a regular thrill a minute, it is.

But nothing, I repeat nothing, else in this year's field of 64 blows me away more than what I consider to be the biggest surprise in tournament history.

No number one seeds in the Final Four? No big deal.

Number 11 seed George Mason knocking off Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and the University of Connecticut on its way to a berth in the Final Four (the first berth for a Mid-Major in the Final Four since UNLV won the title in 1989-90. (And by the way, if you pay your players, you're really not a Mid-Major. Hear that, Tark?) Not even close.

The mighty Big 10 Conference, rated by many as the toughest top-to-bottom this year, making an early exit during the tourney's first weekend? I don't think so.

For me, the biggest surprise/shock of this year's NCAA Tournament lies on the Final Four-bound University of Florida Gators' squad. In the person of 6-11, 227-pound sophomore post player Joakim (pronounced Joe-Kim) Noah. And not because Noah, who played sparingly as a freshman sidelined with numerous injury problems last year, has proven his worth as a lottery pick in this year's NBA draft. While this in itself may be remarkable, what has me dumbfounded is Noah's father, Yannick Noah.

Those of us old enough to actually remember the early 1980s have no trouble recognizing the name of Yannick Noah.

After all, Yannick Noah, at that point in time, was certainly one, if not The One, of France's top male professional tennis players. Noah did win the men's singles title at the 1983 French Open, and ultimately played his way into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

I know, famous father and son, or father and daughter combos seem to be a dime a dozen anymore, so that's not what blows my mind.

It's Yannick Noah's post-tennis career that has caught me completely off guard.

It seems that Yannick Noah these days is something of an international reggae star.

That's right. Reggae. As in music. Jamaican beats, complete with steel drums and choppy rhythm guitar. Reggae. You know, "I Shot The Sheriff," that whole bit.

Whoa.

While I don't much pride myself on my knowledge of tennis (past or present), I do pride myself on my knowledge of music. Of all forms. Especially reggae.

I do love reggae. Bob Marley and the Wailers. Third World. Jimmy Cliff. John Brown's Body.

If it's reggae, I'm a big fan, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have caught not only Marley, but Peter Tosh, in concert before their way-before-their-time deaths.

That's why this Yannick Noah thing has me completely buffaloed.

I had no idea Noah was revered for anything but his tennis playing (and mostly that was limited to the countrymen in his adopted land of France), but a quick spin around the Amazon.com Web site says otherwise.

It appears that Yannick Noah has released a slew of CDs since the early '90s, and the consumers who cared to leave reviews of said CDs have given them an average of four stars out of a possible five.

If that's not enough of a show-stopper, chew on this. Yannick Noah has yet to see his son compete in this year's NCAA Tournament because of his touring schedule.

Seems that when Joakim and his Gator mates were knocking off Georgetown for a spot in the regional finals, old man Yannick was playing in front of a sold-out crowd in Paris, about a million miles away from Minneapolis, where Florida was playing at the time.

Word is that Yannick may make his way to Indiana to see his son take part in the American phenom that is the Final Four.

I really hope that is the case. May be the last time (or first) time he is able to see his son in a Florida Gators uniform before he too, becomes a professional athlete.

And who knows, after Joakim's pro career draws to a close, maybe he can follow in his dad's footsteps and become an international rap superstar or something.

Oh, well. Now that the shock has passed me by, think I'll click on Amazon and order Yannick's Live CD and see what I've been missing.



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