After two glorious months, my weekly ritual of abusing my column-writing privileges by ripping Dartmouth’s football team for its self-loathing, doormat style of play came to a close on that date. With the end of the Ivy League season, I was left with no contemptible Ancient Eight athletic program to unleash my misguided fury and disgust upon.
That was until I found the Princeton men’s basketball team.
As I walked into Lavietes Pavillion on Saturday night to watch what would be a painful 77-71 Harvard loss, I was immediately thrown off balance by the rancid, unmistakable stench of douchebaggery. Nauseous, yet unable to stop sniffing the air for the source of this foul odor, my attention turned to the court. It was then that I identified the culprits as none other than the Tigers hoopsters.
In a Dec. 26 mailbag, ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons wrote, “I’m still waiting to meet my first Princeton grad that I might like. I am like 0-for-79. Princeton grads carry themselves like bad guys in a sports movie.”
If Princeton’s basketball squad is any reflection of the school’s student body and alumni, the Sports Guy might be on to something.
From the early stages of the game it was obvious that the Tigers were not a very likeable collection of athletes. When I arrived about five or six minutes into the first half, the Crimson faithful was already booing Princeton’s freshman point guard, Douglas Davis, every time he touched the ball, which happened all too often.
Davis personified the idea that the point guard sets the tone for the rest of his team, in every way. Apparently more concerned with accumulating highlights for his And1 Tour audition than with the game itself, Davis followed a simple formula over and over again: receive inbounds pass, bust out several unnecessary crossovers and spin moves, find enough space to force a bad shot, release.
Everything about him—from his selfish play to his smug body language—plowed through the border that separates swagger from plain arrogance.
To make things worse, the kid was good, and the swooning of a Harvard girl a few seats away from me, whose crush on Davis caused her to actively root against the Crimson whenever he was in the game, brought back memories of every conversation I’ve had that started like this: “Look, you’re a really nice guy, but…”
And Davis was just the beginning.
With just over 30 seconds left in the game and Harvard down 68-65, Princeton shooting guard Dan Mavraides nailed a three, plunging a dagger into the Crimson’s aspirations of victory. After the shot swished through the net, Mavraides held his arm in the air, mimicking his follow-through motion.
Fine, I get it. You hit a big shot, you’re happy. But as seconds passed, the hand didn’t go down. Mavraides began to parade around with his arm up, even running up to his teammates to show them, just in case they didn’t notice. The jeers of the Harvard crowd did nothing to increase the force of gravity on Mavraides’ arm, and the sizeable Princeton contingent in the stands went nuts in support of their guy.
The whole scene made me queasy, and I tried to look away, but the only other thing to focus on was the Hair Club for Men gone horribly wrong that calls itself the Tigers’ frontcourt. Apparently one of the hazing rituals for guys over 6’7 on the Princeton basketball team involves growing your hair as long as possible and then turning the lights out in the locker room while your teammates attack your head with scissors.
I’m truly afraid to go to sleep tonight, because I don’t want to deal with the recurring dream I’ve been having where I get chased down a dark alleyway by two Rod Blagojevich impersonators and a living, breathing mullet. Look guys, as a fellow tall, goofy white dude, I can empathize. But this needs to stop.
Knowing that Princeton isn’t coming back to Cambridge this season and that I most likely won’t get to write about the Tigers again leaves me feeling bittersweet. True, I’m done for good with Princeton’s trio of Young Frankensteins and their cocky, insufferable teammates. But not since my days of bashing Dartmouth football had I drank as lustily from the Fountain of Haterade as I did during Saturday night’s game.
Now the moment is gone, the briefly reclaimed piece of my soul once again stripped away from me. With no clear object of my scorn, I can only hope to be lucky enough to be present when the next douchey Ivy squad comes to town. Either that, or travel to Providence when the Harvard baseball team goes to Brown this spring.
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at email@example.com.