Barry Saunders

The ACC tourney’s in a New York state of mind, and I mind – Saunders

Remember those TV cowboys sitting around the campfire contemplating what bad things to do to Cookie after he served them a picante sauce from New York City?

How many of us will be sitting around the office, bar or crib Tuesday contemplating what bad things we’d like to do to whoever is serving us an ACC Tournament from there?

The tournament, which is the closest thing to Christmas that one can get outside of December, starts Tuesday in Brooklyn, a borough of New York.

All together now: NEW YORK CITY?

The tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn – where it’s set to be played next year, too – was scheduled before HB2 caused some of the world to regard North Carolinians as backwoods, weed-bending hayseeds. If the HB2 debate continues, we may eventually find ourselves watching an ACC Tournament from Manitoba or Saskatchewan. (That’s Canada, for those of us who spent geography class listening to the ACC Tournament on transistor radios.)

True basketball fans will watch it regardless of where it’s played, but can the passion inspired by the ACC Tournament translate outside the South?

It’s doubtful. Back when VCRs were a thing, I used to record Letterman, Carson and other late-night shows to watch during the day.

Just like a picante sauce without onions, though, something was missing when they were viewed outside their time and place. Why, it’s like watching a NASCAR race from California instead of Charlotte, North Wilkesboro or Rockingham.

Bashing New York seems to be de rigueur among some people, but you’ll never hear me badmouthing it. A great place it is, but after 3 to 5 days there, my ol’ country self yearns to return to a place where the waitresses call you “honey” non-ironically and people on elevators say “Mash that button for me, will ya, hoss’?”

To a dude who considers four hours a good night’s sleep, what could be better than waking up in the city that never sleeps, knowing that you can find a restaurant, barber, movie theater or bookstore no matter how wee the hour?

I’ve done all of those things in New York.

Here in the Triangle, though – the so-called Silicon Valley of the South – after 10 p.m. one can’t even buy a book or browse through magazines that don’t have the words “motorcycle,” “guns” or “barely legal” in the title, or that the clerk with the eyepatch doesn’t have to keep behind the counter. After being turned away from the 10 p.m. movie last week – it was the last one of the night and was sold out – I sauntered over to a bookstore. Considering the number of eggheads per capita living here, surely it would be open until at least 11 on a Saturday night, right?

Wrong. As soon as my shadow darkened the door, the woman announced “It is 10 p.m. Barnes & Noble is now closed.”

Son of a biscuit eater! 10 o’clock? Now, that’s one instance where it would be desirable to bring some New York to North Carolina, and we could send some North Carolina up there. Say, New York: What y’all want?

No one with good sense would dare denigrate the type of ball they play in New York, since some of the ACC’s greatest players came from there. Less than a century after the Underground Railroad was spiriting some of us out of the South to the North, Frank McGuire started an Overground Railroad bringing Northerners down here.

Fleetwood Mac had a great song out in the 1970s called “You Make Lovin’ Fun.” Whenever McGuire brought his team of surly Yankees – aka the South Carolina Gamecocks – to the ACC Tournament, he made hatin’ fun.

Would the ACC be the ACC without Rosenbluth, Ribock, Roche, Cunningham, Scott, Cremins, Anderson, Smith, Cota, et al?


As a public service to intrepid hoops fans venturing North for the tournament, we have compiled a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” – no, just “Don’ts” – to make your trip a pleasurable one. More importantly, it’ll increase your likelihood of returning home at the same time your head does:

▪ Don’t stand in open-mouthed, wide-eyed wonderment, gawking at every building over 10 stories and asking strangers “Is that the Empire State Building?” (Yeah, like I’m the only one who’s made that mistake.)

▪ Don’t point. While in Manhattan with my second or third ex-fiancee 15 years ago, I pointed at something that caught my attention. She angrily – as she did most things – yanked my arm down and seethed, “Don’t point. Do you want everyone to know you’re a tourist?”

Her warning was issued too late, because within 90 seconds two dudes descended upon me, offering to sell me some diamonds, and a woman – who didn’t look like a travel agent – asked if I wanted a trip around the world.

▪ Don’t buy anything from a bespectacled gentleman going by Honest John Schaefer, especially if he offers you a terrific deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.

▪ Don’t sleep on the subway, darling.

▪ Don’t take selfies at the 9/11 Memorial. While we’re on the subject ...

▪ Don’t take selfies anywhere, ever.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9