Baylor, Gonzaga lead the way


A new college basketball top 25 is now live.

I sat down at my laptop to write out a column about why I ranked certain teams in certain spots and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t find a way to give a damn.

As I’m sure you all know, Kobe Bryant died today. He was in a helicopter along with eight other people, including his daughter, Gianna, and her teammate, Alyssa Altobelli along with her mom, Keri, and dad, John. They were on the way to play in a travel team game. At least two, and certainly more, families were gutted, and while we are going to be talking about Kobe for the most part, I do think that should be emphasized.

Nine people died on that helicopter. Nine.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about why so many folks — like myself — spent Sunday completely torn up about the death of a person that we never met, a person that may or may not be deserving of the outpouring of love and adoration coming his way. What I came up with is this: The true heartbreak in this story is that Kobe was on the plane with one of his four daughters, the one he has spent the last couple of years proudly and publicly developing into a full-blown middle-aged sports dad with. It was awesome to see. This was not how their story was supposed to end.

Kobe and his wife also have three other daughters: a 17-year old along with a three year old and a newborn that is just seven months old. The Altobellis left a family behind, too, and what that family is going through is crushing as well, but I can’t stop thinking about what Vanessa, his wife, is going to be forced to deal with. She’s post-partum, with one daughter that will never know her father, and now has to cope with the loss of her husband and the loss of a child while trying to keep that 17-year old sane and explain to a three-year old why daddy and her big sister are never coming home.

That’s unfathomable to me.

But the reason I think this hit me so hard is that I keep putting myself in that helicopter. As a parent, the only goal in your life is keep your kids safe and happy. At any cost. It’s that simple. How do you deal with being on a helicopter with your child — and, for the Altobellis, with your spouse — knowing that something has gone wrong? Knowing what’s going to happen? Knowing the inevitability of your situation? Knowing that there’s nothing you can do to stop it, to keep your baby safe?

I don’t think that I’m alone there.

So I spent as much time as I could today playing with my kids, because arguing about ranking college basketball top 25 teams has never seemed dumber.

We can yell at each other next week.

Anyway, here is the rest of the NBC Sports college basketball top 25.

1. BAYLOR (17-1, Last Week: 1)2. GONZAGA (21-1, 2)3. KANSAS (16-3, 3)4. FLORIDA STATE (17-2, 4)5. LOUISVILLE (17-3, 5)6. SETON HALL (15-4, 6)7. DUKE (17-3, 7)8. SAN DIEGO STATE (21-0, 8)9. DAYTON (18-2, 9)10. OREGON (17-4, 13)11. KENTUCKY (16-5, 14)12. WEST VIRGINIA (16-3, 15)13. VILLANOVA (16-3, 17)14. ILLINOIS (15-5, 24)15. AUBURN (17-2, 12)16. MICHIGAN STATE (16-3, 10)17. IOWA (14-5, 18)18. MARYLAND (16-4, 23)19. HOUSTON (16-4, 20)20. BUTLER (16-4, 11)21. CREIGHTON (16-5, 25)22. COLORADO (16-4, NR)23. PENN STATE (14-5, NR)24. RUTGERS (15-5, NR)25. ARIZONA (13-6, 19)

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 22 Colorado, No. 23 Penn State, No. 24 RutgersDROPPED OUT: No. 16 Texas Tech, No. 21 Memphis, No. 22 Michigan



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