Saturday, March 17, 2007

Commentary: Big 'Easy'? Storm's ire jars Gators

I love this (and last) years' editions of the Gator basketball team.

Possibly because it's so easy for me to identify with Noah. (long hair, liberal world view, funky dancer(link will be added below)).

Commentary: Big 'Easy'? Storm's ire jars Gators

Commentary: Big 'Easy' Storm's ire jars Gators
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By Greg Stoda

Palm Beach Post Columnist

Saturday, March 17, 2007

NEW ORLEANS — The numbers are especially haunting. Chilling.

They are written on abandoned houses still screaming in wicked silence more than 11/2 years after Hurricane Katrina came sweeping into the low-lying areas surrounding the mouth of the Mississippi River and spit out unimaginable devastation. The numbers mark how many bodies were discovered inside during recovery - don't call them rescue - missions.

That's why some of the young men who play basketball for the University of Florida pulled the plugs from their ears and stopped listening to their music while riding through the damaged neighborhoods.

That's why others among them were nudged awake out of tiny naps.

That's why the bus got so quiet.

"Very," Joakim Noah said softly after a workout session at New Orleans Arena, where the Gators began defense of their national championship Friday night in a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Jackson State.

It was Noah, then between his freshman and sophomore seasons, who found his way to coach Billy Donovan's office back in the immediate aftermath of Katrina's fury. Noah had watched hours of television coverage of the tragedy, and was feeling what was felt by everyone else who was far removed from the physical reality of the disaster. He couldn't possibly comprehend the scope of the destruction.

So, a coach and a player talked a long time that summer day. What they talked about was the uncertainty of life.

Which might be why Donovan, after a Thursday practice at a local high school, instructed the bus driver to take a different route back to the glitzy and glamorous surroundings of an NCAA Tournament in which the Gators are kings unless or until somebody proves they're not.

"I think these guys have a very, very good attitude about more than a basketball game," Donovan said. "But it's never a bad thing to be reminded of how good you have it and how lucky you are."

The intentionally detoured journey back from practice delivered its own potent message.


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