Deadspin: North Dakota’s ‘choke job’ and UCLA’s basketball uniforms

Below are my two most recent stories for Deadspin.com:

Here’s my March 21 story about the fan reaction to UCLA’s ugly new basketball uniforms: All The Angry Emails Sent To UCLA By Fans Who Hated The Ugly New Zubaz-Style Uniforms

… If Adidas wanted to invite controversy, that’s what it got out of UCLA fans. Deadspin put in public records requests with the five public schools included in the Feb. 28 announcement—as well as to Michigan, which wore a more subtle version of the uniforms in the Big Ten Tournament, and Indiana, which flat-out refused to wear the uniforms—to see how the new get-ups were discussed behind the scenes.

At UCLA, we found Adidas’s sports marketing director Chris McGuire sending an excited email to athletic director Dan Guerrero, saying he’d been told “this might be the best thing we’ve ever done” and that the uniforms had been flying off the shelves. We also found emails from unhappy UCLA fans, like the one who said “the thought of any player representing our school with these uniforms embarrasses and infuriates me.”

Here is my May 16 story about the North Dakota basketball’s play-by-play radio announcer’s suspension after a post-game interview with the head coach: How North Dakota Lost Its Mind Over A “Choke Job”

On Feb. 16, the Northern Arizona basketball team rallied to beat North Dakota in overtime, 74-72. In a postgame interview with North Dakota head coach Brian Jones, the team’s radio guy, Paul Ralston, a university employee, called the loss a “choke job.” What ensued was the most pitiful college sports “scandal” in recent memory. The broadcaster groveled before the coach. The school suspended him anyway. Fans and boosters sent angry letters. One of them blamed “political correctness.” Another blamed the “left-wing agenda.”

We’ve obtained those emails and more via an open records request. They offer a view from the inside of that rare sports scandal in which everyone manages to be ridiculous…

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