The truest form of the sport showcases incredible degrees of athleticism meshing with the simplest facets — dribbling, shooting, passing, defending, etc. — of the game to create a special art form unique to any player, team or league.
The NCAA Tournament presents this art form in a spectacular fashion, with the peaceful and chaotic natures of the sport being shown, be it a beautifully run play — such as setting up a Justin Jackson three-pointer or an alley-oop to Isaiah Hicks — or a disastrous meltdown — such as West Virginia’s Jevon Carter spectacularly missing two consecutive three pointers, one missing the rim entirely and then dribbling the clock out to lose the game.
Basketball is regularly referred to as poetry in motion. This is an apt description for the tournament itself, as poetry can often make one think, “Wow, how beautiful,” or “What the hell did I just see?”
The championship game is the ultimate summation of this art, as storylines collide and heroes emerge in order to lead teams to victory. The great college players are permanently written down in the history books for their heroics, as no championship can be obtained without a great player leading the way.
Could His Airness lead a college team to an NCAA championship?
No, not Air Jordan. Air Bud.
Yes, everyone’s favorite fictional multi-sport canine that sparked five good “Air Bud” films and a damn litter of nine-too-many “Air Buddies” spinoffs.
Air Bud could arguably be the greatest college player ever, and could undoubtedly lead any team to success.
Michael Jordan isn’t too bad himself, though. Averaging 13.5 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per game as a first-year during the 1981-1982 season, he helped lead UNC to a national title. However, he’s still just some guard who hit a lucky game-winner over Georgetown, and he needed help from the likes of Sam Perkins and James Worthy to even make it to the championship game in the first place.
Air Bud would be a true difference maker, and he’s far superior to the supposed “G.O.A.T.”
Is Air Bud the Michael Jordan of dogs, or is Michael Jordan the Air Bud of humans? This is an important question — I say the latter.
Let’s be honest here. Could Michael Jordan lead the Fernfield Timberwolves on a 27-10 run in the final six and a half minutes to beat the Spokane Warriors for the Washington Middle School Championship? Could Jordan score 10 points, dish out four assists and secure three steals (yes, I seriously recorded his stats from the movie) en route to overcoming a 72-56 deficit during those final minutes? I think not.
Jordan was just a dude that could dunk, and he needed more talent around him to win.
Air Bud was a multi-faceted player — more of a combo-guard, if I do say so myself — who dominated both sides of the ball, and would fit on any team in any system. He really hounds opposing players on the defensive end, and has sure paws for retrieving steals. He’s not afraid of the big stage, seeking golden opportunities to score and help his teammates. One could even say that he terrier-izes opponents during games.
Roy Williams would likely call him a doggone good player, too.
His statistical achievements were even better: when adjusting his performance to Jordan’s average playing time of 31.7 minutes per game as a first-year, Air Bud would record 48.8 points, 19.5 assists and 14.6 steals per contest, exponentially surpassing Jordan’s averages. (Yes, believing that these statistical adjustments would hold up is completely unreasonable, but so is believing that a dog could play basketball at a college level, so just go with it.)
One could argue, “But Trevor, Air Bud played on a middle school team.” So? Air Bud is a generational talent who would succeed on any level. Plus, if LaVar Ball can say that his three young sons (two of whom are in high school, the other in college) could be better than the likes of Jordan and Steph Curry, then why can’t I believe in Air Bud’s chances?
So this all brings us back to the main question: could Air Bud lead a college team to a national championship? Hell, if Jordan could, then Air Bud can too. You know how the saying goes: