- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wait. Hold up. Put down the giant foam finger. Stop searching for Stamey’s Barbecue. We already know the problem.

You’re thinking: This isn’t Greensboro.

Guess what? You’re right. This isn’t Greensboro. The ACC wasn’t born here. Twenty conference tournaments haven’t been played here. The four North Carolina schools aren’t within an hour’s drive — heck, Maryland’s campus can be an hour’s drive, depending on Beltway traffic — and the only tailgating occurs when our duly elected leaders chug one too many at happy hour.

Also, most of us couldn’t pick Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of a lineup consisting of “Little E” and Destiny’s Child.

But we digress. Point is, Washington is nothing like Greensboro, Raleigh or even Charlotte, home to just about every other ACC men’s basketball tournament. And for that, we’re sorry. Not Jason Giambi kinda sorta sorry. Genuinely apologetic.

Please — accept this extra tobacco subsidy as a token of our remorse. Oh, and would it help if we further deregulated the pig-farming industry?

Look, we’re guessing this is strange for you. Us, too. We usually play host to diplomats and heads of state, not semipro basketball teams and Coach K. But we’re willing to adapt. We like tourists, especially rich ones, except when they stand on the left side of our Metro escalators (right, darn it! R-I-G-H-T). We want you to enjoy yourselves. We want you to come back … and spend more money, even if you can’t stockpile extra booster club points in the process.

“This is a big event,” Maryland coach Gary Williams says. “For the people not from this area, it’s a great opportunity to see some of the great things in this area.”

We couldn’t agree more. So go out and see a statue of a dead guy or something. And should you start to feel a little homesick, we humbly offer you 26 alphabetic reasons to consider the nation’s capital ACC country.

(As for the barbecue? You’re on your own).

Atlantic Coast

Pretty far away — but since when has that mattered in this conference?

Boring

No disrespect to the fine, fine jukebox at the Pizza Inn in Greensboro, but Forbes magazine twice named the Gate City one of the nation’s dullest ‘burgs. Looking to recreate the magic? Try the following:

a) Sit in your hotel room and watch C-Span.

b) Go down to Capitol Hill and watch C-Span live.

c) Convince your Congressman/woman to let you read a floor resolution and be a part of C-Span yourself. Who says reality television is all wacky stunts and chesty spokesbabe wannabes?

Christian Laettner

The former Duke star used to play for the Washington Wizards. Don’t hold it against us.

Duke

Not the most beloved basketball program in the area. Maryland students routinely celebrate regular-season wins over the Blue Devils by rioting. Now, don’t you feel a little more at home?

ESPN Zone

Downtown, ESPN-themed bar and restaurant the perfect place for Duke fans to unwind, commiserate, toast the unmatched K-lass of Coach K. Especially if Dickie V. or Jay Bilas drops by.

Former Tar Heels

Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood play for the Wizards. Again, don’t hold it against us.

Groin punches

Standard practice in Washington political brawls, though usually delivered through campaign advertising/disgruntled Swift Boat vets/independent counsel/Michael Moore flicks. If the NBA doesn’t work out, Chris Paul has a place on the Hill.

Hockey, NHL

Hurricanes, Panthers, Thrashers, Caps. All on ice. Let’s share a group hug ‘n’ hankie — or not, since we don’t miss it, either.

Ice and snow

Doesn’t take much to plunge the Washington area into gridlock and chaos. You know, like Raleigh.

Jefferson, Thomas

We love Mr. Charlottesville. We even built an awe-inspiring memorial next to the Tidal Basin. Too bad the Great Man’s university hasn’t fielded a decent basketball team in years.

Kicked out

If Roy Williams’ son can get booted from the Dean Dome, you could get ejected from MCI Center. So watch what you say about J.J. Redick’s siblings.

Lo Mein

Chinatown is just around the corner. Get some noodles with pork and pretend it’s barbecue. Unless you like the official tournament hot dogs, which probably contain pork-like substances.

Michael Jordan

Doesn’t live here anymore. But you still can snag a No. 23 Bullets throwback jersey — and for cheap (we’re pretending it never happened, too).

Nightlife

Hit the strip in Adams Morgan. It’s not exactly South Beach — why any Miami fan actually would travel with their team is beyond us — but it sure beats Blacksburg.

On the bubble

Half the people in this town are either political appointees or up for re-election, their fates in the hands of a fickle, hard-to-figure selection committee of voters. So we know how you feel.

PTI

Forget the North Carolina airport. We’re talking the ESPN show, taped in the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms building (really). Wanna get on television with that “Wilbon, Will You MARRY Me?” sign? This is your chance.

Quality furniture, affordable prices

Carolina has both in spades; we have two nearby IKEAs. Does that count?

Redskins

The only local sports story that truly matters. If the signing of a third-string guard trumps the ACC tournament final on the evening news, don’t be alarmed: Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech may be football schools, but this is a football city.

Statues

Like we said, you can’t drive a half-mile in D.C. without running into a half-dozen. Dante, Joan of Arc, Sonny Bono and seven versions of George Washington are among the bronzed luminaries; Greensboro namesake Gen. Nathanael Greene can be found on Capitol Hill, along with Olive Seward. Whoever that is.

Traffic circles

Take the most dangerous, chaotic, nonsensical intersection in your home city. Now quadruple the frustration. A gift from original Washington planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant. He was French. Draw your own conclusions.

Unloading tickets

Time-honored tradition no different in the District. Once your team is out, find a buyer and get busy. Who knows? With a little luck, you could be heading back to Clemson by tonight. (Note: Advice is meant for recreational purposes only. The Washington Times does not condone scalping, unless you can score us some prime seats).

Venus, Mons

World-renowned strip club in Tampa, Fla., which is also home to sunshine, nearby beaches and the 2007 ACC tournament. Pretend to miss us, OK?

Washington Nationals

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos didn’t want them here. He also made some of his fortune suing cigarette companies. So pick up plenty of Nationals gear before you leave and extract a little Tobacco Road revenge.

X-rated tirades

Take heart, salty tongued ACC coaches (and you know who you are): Liberal use of curse words is A-OK by us. Not convinced? Just ask Vice President Cheney.

Yell leaders

You have cheerleaders; we have televised political pundits. Earaches all around!

Zero, Zilch, Zippy

Number of players from schools outside North Carolina who made the All-ACC first team. Hmmm. Maybe this year’s tournament should have been held in Greensboro … nah. We still want your money company. Enjoy the show.

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