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Twang and hoops

Mike Sudhalter  |  May 14, 2007

With the NBA playoffs in full gear and the Academy of Country Music awards set for tommorow night, it had me thinking about country music-basketball analogies.

First of all, there's different criteria for these analogies and not all of them match up 100 percent.

Let's start with George Strait to Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs. Strait is the season ticketholder for the Spurs, and his performance is very similar to that of San Antonio's top player. They're both efficient and fundamentally sound, but neither one has jaw-dropping, electrifying live performances like Garth Brooks or LeBron James, respectively.

They both hone their craft far away from big media centers of Los Angeles and New York, and have been very consistent throughout their careers. Duncan has three championships to show for it, and Strait, dozens of No. 1 hits.

Next, there's Garth Brooks and Michael Jordan Both started their careers in the 1980's and hit their respective peaks during the 1990's. Both men changed and redefined their respective fields.

In their prime, both Brooks and Jordan retired, and staged subpar comeback efforts. And most importantly, they both discovered that they shouldn't quit their day job for professional baseball.

What would the 1990's have been without "Friends in Low Places" and gravity-defying slam dunks?

Who are the two country artists that fans speak the most nostalgically of? Merle Haggard and George Jones. In basketball, it's Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

Country music fans often complain that today's era doesn't have any artists like Haggard and Jones. Basketball fans say their game isn't the same as when Bird and Magic were playing.

My final example is kind of an analogy/prediction. Follow me here. Carmelo Anthony attended Syracuse University for one season and led the Orange to an NCAA Championship in 2003. He departed for the NBA after one season, but he delivered the upstate New York school a championship.

Carrie Underwood burst on to the country music scene after winning American Idol and has stayed on top of the charts ever since then. Even the most naive country music fan has to know that she's going to leave for the so-called greener pastures of pop. But the fact that Underwood was country music's own for a while reinvigorated the genre and kind of served as our 2003 NCAA Championship.

Let's just hope country music doesn't do a nosedive and have the equivalent of a first round loss to Vermont two years from now.

:: Posted at 3:58 PM by Mike Sudhalter ::
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