- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kobe Bryant scored 50 points in four consecutive games last week, three short of Wilt Chamberlain’s record set in 1961.

Even more impressive, Bryant scored 65, 50, 60 and 50 points in consecutive games by shooting 55.1 percent from 2-point range, 51.5 percent from 3-point range and 93.3 percent from the free throw line.

Of course, this bit of NBA history was easy to miss because the guy in the next cubicle was whining that his NCAA tournament bracket is busted or worse.

Oh, you’re in 32nd place in your pool, and you had Davidson beating Maryland, and Davidson was one of your Final Four teams? Fascinating. Tell me more.

Phil Jackson knows this obsession first-hand.

Thursday, while Bryant scored 60 points in a two-point game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the scoreboard at FedExForum showed the final minutes of the Memphis-Texas A&M; game.

“I went to the scorer’s table and said, ‘That’s not right,’ ” said the Zen Master, awoken from his meditation. “This is the game that’s being played here.”

Memphis beat Texas A&M; 65-64. Tigers guard Antonio Anderson hit two free throws with 3.1 seconds left.

What’s that? You had the Aggies because No. 3 seeds from the Big 12 have advanced to the regional finals 54.1 percent of the time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams? Bummer.

Did you know Bryant shot 54.1 percent against the Grizzlies?

It’s not called March Madness for nothing.

This month brings out the experts from the boiler room. Desk jockeys turn into Dick Vitale, as if one wasn’t enough.

They pore over spreadsheets, analyze the unimaginable and all-out guess the outcome of a single-elimination tournament.

First, stop bothering me. Second, I’m sure Davidson, Southern Illinois, Oral Roberts and Xavier seemed like hip picks two weeks ago at 4 a.m. But two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds made the Final Four. Who knew, other than 161,869 ESPN.com users?

Even Bryant couldn’t resist the allure of the tournament.

Between scoring 50 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves and his game against the Grizzlies, Bryant reportedly contacted Texas freshman Kevin Durant on behalf of Nike about a sweet shoe deal between $30 million and $50 million.

Of course, Bryant cleared all this up by saying, “Don’t print something that’s just completely false. That makes no sense whatsoever. It’s really unprofessional.”

Sure, but so is gambling at work and entering 10 different brackets in the pool.

Don’t cry. These things are hard to predict. Remember last year, when George Mason made the Final Four? The crazy cat lady won because she knew a guy named George Mason.

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