King James, My Florida Loyalty & Some Interesting Anecdotes
Spencer Haywood , SportsBlog.com Presents: Legends Corner- Featuring continuous and compelling blogs written by NBA veterans, Legends Corner is the content hub for some of basketball's most legendary players. on
It looks like I'm back to picking Florida to win it all. I switched to Michigan State before because of the President...and my daughter, and my hometown, and my sister who got her doctorate from there. I wouldn't have even been able to go to the family BBQ if I hadn't switched from Florida to Michigan State!
So I'm back on Florida again. Speaking of the State of Florida, guess who is in the Spencer Haywood story on NBA TV (http://www.nba.com/video/channels/nba_tv/2014/04/02/20140402-spencer-haywood-feature.nba/)? The answer is the King, as in LeBron James. When I think of Florida, I don't think of a gator or baseball training. I have one thought. First and foremost, I think of LeBron James. Why you ask? Because he's the only player who really wanted to meet me and talk to me and find out what this Spencer Haywood story was all about. He brought me to Akron in 2010 for his bike-a-thon community event and we got to know each other then. And by the way, D-Wade was there. And they were pretty buddy-buddy and having a good time with each other. Next thing you know - "The Decision" - and LeBron was going to the Heat. If I were a reporter, I could have sniffed this out, but I was a quasi-fan! Anyway, I've been saying it for years on Facebook that LeBron is the man! When I would think of Florida before, I'd think of my football heroes- Bobby Bowden, Jimmy Johnson. I even abandoned Dan Marino to go all-in for The King! I just can't help myself, and this is nothing to be trifled with...LeBron is a good young man.
Back to the Final Four. There's something about them Kentucky youngsters that scares me. I've been there as a youngster, playing like a fool, not knowing how big of a deal it is and just playing. That's what happened to me in the Olympics. I killed it, I set the record for 44 years in four categories. I thought I was just playing and having fun. But I left there with the most rebounds in the history of the Olympics! And the funny thing? After the game, one of the Yugoslavians asked me for my jersey, so I gave it to him because I didn't know better. I won the gold medal and I gave my jersey up...right there on the spot!! That mentality reminds me of the Kentucky team, which can be scary. I think they have a chance of beating Florida because after getting a beating from them a few times, they can't let it happen again!
But it would be sacrilegious to go against Wisconsin because they are veterans and in the Big 10. And UCONN has lived through some adversity. And it's interesting that the last time Florida lost, it was at UCONN. Listen to me with my traitor coat on! It's just that I like all four teams that are in it, so it's hard to pick one.
At the end of the day, I'm predicting Florida to win it all in a Championship game against Kentucky. But what am I hoping for? I'm hoping that Wisconsin goes all the way.