In the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated, there is an article that presents an interesting alternate universe.
The article explains in full detail what the world would be like if Cubs fan Steve Bartman didn't interfere with Moises Alou on the foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
Spoiler alert: Barack Obama doesn't get elected president. You should read it.
With the NCAA men's basketball national championship game coming on tonight, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the history of the Final Four and see where I could unleash a butterfly effect.
Then it hit me: What if Chris Webber didn't call timeout at the end of the 1993 title game, resulting in a technical foul because the Wolverines were out of timeouts?
What if, instead, Webber stepped behind the three-point line and sunk the game-winning shot?
Of course, Michigan's championship would have been vacated anyway due to NCAA violations. But when I really thought about it, the world (well, at least the basketball world) would be a little different if Webber didn't call timeout.
If Webber hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds, or if he made a game-tying shot and Michigan won the game in overtime, some fans in North Carolina would be crying foul on the referees.
That's because Webber clearly traveled before bringing the basketball out of the backcourt. Because of the timeout, nobody remembers that.
However, if Michigan won the game, some may wonder if the referees were improperly influenced. Ed Martin did get caught paying some Wolverine basketball players (hence the NCAA violations); who's to say he didn't have enough money to pay off the zebras as well?
An investigation leads to better-policed referees in the future. The NBA wisely follows suit, preventing any Tim Donaghy-types from tainting the integrity of the game.
And, in an ironic twist of fate, the Webber-led Sacramento Kings win the 2002 Western Conference Finals in six games en route to an NBA title.
No Need for One-and-Done
But then again, the Kings may not have to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 playoffs.
Influenced by the Fab Five's success, high school stars such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James would want to play college ball for at least one year. So Bryant wouldn't have been acquired by the Shaq-led Lakers in 1996.
And LeBron's talents would have gone to Disney World, as the Orlando Magic draft him out of Ohio State with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.
Check out Drew Rosten's Sports Thread at http://drewrosten.blogspot.com.