More than just basketball

I mentioned over the weekend how cool the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament are, and how wild the Selection Show is. But the morning after Selection Sunday has held special significance for me ever since I first started attending the Philadelphia Coaches vs. Cancer March Madness Tip-Off Breakfast.

I don't remember what the first year was that I attended; I just know that I feel like I've gone every year for a while now. And though I know it's poor form to complain about my working hours, I think you can understand when I say it's not always easy to get to the Palestra by 7:30 a.m. after staying up late to coordinate's NCAA Tournament presentation.

But I wouldn't miss the event for anything. It symbolizes better than anything else we have how wonderfully tight-knit the Philadelphia college basketball community is.

All of the City Six coaches, a roster of some of the top reporters in the region, and hundreds of college basketball fans congregate at the Palestra to talk hoops and raise money for the American Cancer Society. It's also an event at which I willingly shed my journalistic objectivity for a few hours, because Coaches vs. Cancer ought to be a one-sided contest.

While I personally have not had any truly close friends affected by the disease, we all know or know of someone who has fought it at some point. Obviously, legendary Daily News 76ers beat writer Phil Jasner and the late Channel 6 sportscaster Gary Papa come to mind first, but there are many others.

In the video player at right, you'll see a couple of pieces from the breakfast. In the audio player below, you'll be able to listen to the entire panel discussion from the event. It's broken out into tracks for each speaker. I hope you'll take in the whole thing, even though it takes a while. It's worth it.