• Dave Barend

No Basketball Times? What Now?

A few months ago, my wife found me keeled over writhing in pain. Anticipating sympathy, instead I got, “Are you now going to do this every March?”


“Today was the worst.”

“Really? I thought the Tournament getting cancelled last year was the worst.”


“They’re both the worst.”

”You should probably look up the definition of the word worst."


This did not seem like an appropriate time to add to my to-do list.


Clutching my abdominal area, I asked, “You ever feel like you’ve been kicked in the stomach?”

"Why yes I have. Let me introduce you to your two children.”

“Huh?”

“The ones I gave birth to!”


“I’m telling you this was worse. I'm talking real pain.” (Note to prospective fathers: there is truly nothing dumber you can do than diminish the pain of childbirth.)


As she prepared to add to my real pain, I exclaimed, “Basketball Times is ending!"

“Oh my God!” Finally some sympathy.

“What on Earth are you going to do now?!” Yeah, it was short lived sympathy.


That’s the big question: What are we going to do now? Where oh where are we going to go for top notch college hoops content? (For those wondering if “top notch” was a subtle Caddyshack reference, the answer is: no, it wasn’t supposed to be subtle.)


There’s ESPN which is a great place to turn during March Madness. Well, that is if you are looking for non-stop, in-depth analysis of the NFL Draft.


There’s also The Athletic which does have fantastic writing, but you have to pay for it.

Now mind you, I’m not a cheap man. Though that’s a statement that Cheers barfly, Norm Peterson, once claimed would only be said by a cheap man.


But honestly, it’s the hassle of having to create a password. And trying to remember it, you know, long enough to immediately re-enter it.


Then I have to go through the pockets of every pair of pants. Why? Because logic indicates that one of them has to have my damn wallet. (That’s not always accurate - sometimes I discover my wallet in the pants I’m wearing.)


And on top of that I have to establish I’m not a robot, which thankfully does not require an affidavit from my wife.


It, however, does necessitate that I note how many stoplights I see. I always enter zero because I never seem to see stoplights. That’s something to which my wife would attest.


In addition, a failure to read enough is amongst the many faults of mine that she notes daily. And as opposed to the deep dive that is Basketball Times, those little blurbs that make up much of the other college hoops writing surely will not count. I know this from unsuccessfully claiming I had read something and pointing to the CNN scroll.


I then heard my wife say, “Uh Honey . . .” I always know that what follows Honey will be something sweet. Or condescending.


“When I asked, ‘What you were going to do now?' I didn’t mean, ‘What are you going to read?' I meant, ‘What are you going to do with your life?’” Yeah, this wasn’t the sweet Honey.


Her point seemed inconsistent with my plan B which was to do nothing. I mean throughout my marriage I’ve been consistently told I have a knack for that.


I realize it doesn’t sound great to say I’m doing nothing, so I came up with a euphemism - retire. I checked out the finances and I definitely have enough saved to retire next month. Assuming, of course, that the following month I croak.


Uh Dave, weren’t you a lawyer?

Yeah, but I was a public defender. Turns out you don't make a lot of money representing poor people. My law school friends say I discriminate against the rich.


In addition, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than return to practicing law.

I’d even rather re-watch my beloved St. Bonaventure Bonnies Round 1 performance against LSU.


I could go back to teaching, which I did for a bit as an adjunct professor at little Fisher College. It just wasn’t as rewarding as I had hoped. My career highlight: explaining that the U.S. Supreme Court was not where Judge Judy sat.


My wife opted to offer a suggestion too.

“Honey, why don’t you start your own website.”

"I have a website, collegehoopshumor.com."

"Yeah, but why don’t you start one that has something that people want to read."

I think she’s out of the sweet Honey.


Then it hit me - I'll start a website that preserves the legacy of Basketball Times!

So I immediately called the 83-year-old baller and Basketball Times loving guy I refer to as dad. A decision I regretted almost immediately after he picked up the phone.


”Hey Dad, I’ve got some news. Basketball Times is ending.”

“What the hell did you do?!”

“What?”

“You start writing for them, and now after forty-plus years it’s ending!”

“Dad you really can’t blame . . ."

“Well, what am I going to do now?”

“That’s what I’m getting at. I’m thinking of starting a website maybe called College Basketball Times."

“A website? On the internet?"

"Yes Dad. That’s where websites are located - on the internet.”


“That’s not going to work.”

“I appreciate the vote of confidence.”


“I mean after a big meal I want to take my Basketball Times with me . . ."

"Dad, please stop."

"I swear, every time a new Basketball Times comes I have the best . . ."

"Dad!! I get it. What if I include printing instructions?

? “Printing? On the printer? I hate that damn thing. I’ve kicked it countless times and it still never works."

"Just a thought, but maybe it would work a bit better if you kicked it less.

(A brief pause for what I think was contemplation, but could have been a little snooze.)

"What if I told you that my website will be free?”

"Hmm. I do like free."

“Think of all the things you can do with that extra $40. There may be reason to believe you could use a new printer."

"Will you have all the same writers?"

"Well, I’ll be writing."

"I mean the real writers."

"And now I have a new subject for therapy.”

”I bet if you get Bob Ryan the other writers will come. Why don’t you talk to Bob Ryan?"

"Dad, I can’t just talk to . . ."

"And you should probably get a humor writer."

"It’s amazing I even have a shred of self-esteem."

“Why do you keep referencing that stupid movie Caddyshack that nobody’s heard of."

(Yes, my dad is so old that my dated references are too young for him.)

"Maybe you can get Shecky Greene."

"Dad, I’m not getting Shecky Greene."

"Or Bob Hope."

"I’m almost certain you’ll run into Bob Hope before I do.”

"You work on it. I’ve got a game against a team from The Villages."

"Ok Dad. Be the ball."

"What? I have a ball. What the hell did you do to my ball? First Basketball Times, now my ball?"

After that I immediately shot an email to Basketball Times publisher, John Akers.

You know, before the adrenaline rush wore off from my father’s pep talk.

I wrote something like:

"Hello John. I’m hoping to keep the legacy of Basketball Times alive with a website called College Basketball Times. Making a buck or two as well would be nice, but that’s quite unlikely given that my forte is accomplishing things wholly unworthy of compensation.

"So instead, I'll make this a non-profit with my main goal being to just do some good by featuring college basketball writers, players, and coaches who aren’t getting the recognition deserved - much like Basketball Times. We'll have equal coverage for women and all college hoops divisions, including wheelchair. The plan additionally includes giving a percentage of any income to other basketball related charities. And yes, feel free to note my optimistic use of the word income.”

John promptly responded with, “You had me at hello.”

Ok, no he didn’t. But he couldn’t have been more supportive and he agreed to give me the Basketball Times archives.

I then reached out to a bunch of the Basketball Times writers. And I got a response which simply said “Hi.” So I replied with a lot of likely incompressible spew. This was eerily similar to pretty much all of the exchanges I had at college with women.

Then an amazing thing happened - I got a whole bunch of responses.

From the real writers?

Yes, from the real writers.

That of course leaves me with one conclusion: I’m being confused with another more accomplished Dave Barend.

Who knows. Maybe they’ll all be in. And maybe I’ll get Shecky Greene too.