A guide to Philly for hoops fans

First off, we'd like to welcome to Philadelphia all you NCAA basketball fans from Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Connecticut, Chattanooga, American, UCLA and VCU.

You're quite an eclectic group.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first time we've had both Mormons and Texans in town since the 2000 Republican National Convention.

I think you'll find Philadelphia to be a great basketball city, even though we seldom actually buy tickets to basketball games. The 76ers, for example, haven't been a hot ticket since Donyell Marshall was in a car seat.

Still, this is the place where Wilt Chamberlain learned the game and Doug Moe forgot it.

Most people know about Philly's point guards, but we're equally renowned for our shooters. Perhaps you've heard of Herb Magee? Or our murder rate?

We've got some great basketball relics here, too. Too bad you can't get to the Palestra for a Penn game. What you'd have seen there is Glen Miller coaching a team with big-band-era ability.

You may not be aware that Ben Franklin invented the game, Betsy Ross sewed the first uniforms, and John Adams won the first slam-dunk contest.

When you're in between games this weekend, we've got a downtown filled with museums and terrific restaurants.

Try Le Bec-Fin, which is how the French say, "Small portion. Big bill."

There's a Cezanne exhibit going on at the Museum of Art. The great French artist is famed for painting still-lifes, landscapes, and Dennis Rodman.

And while you're in South Philadelphia, assuming you speak English and have a note from your cardiologist, be sure to try an authentic cheesesteak.

Speaking of cheesesteaks, South Philadelphia is the only place outside of women's college basketball where you'll find a feud between Geno and Pat.

Some local protocol: Don't ask for mayonnaise on a hoagie. Don't ask Mayor Nutter why he sounds like Grover. And don't ask Jim Calhoun how much money he makes.

For all you Texas A&M fans, I think you'll find our city much like your home state, except we don't wear boots or comprehend Toby Keith.

And, oh yeah, if you need tickets, you might want to contact Vince Fumo.


Tip for Cole Hamels. Yo, Cole. We know it's your intention to be cool. That's why you bought the Center City penthouse, posed for more magazine covers than Jennifer Aniston, and started your own charitable foundation.

Which is why it was somewhat surprising that, as you exited your doctor's appointment this week, you were driving a minivan.

Cole, there are few things less cool than a minivan, except for maybe Charlie Manuel rapping.

NFL owners in politics. President Obama this week nominated Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney to be his ambassador to Ireland.

This was good news for several other NFL owners: Al Davis has long wanted to be our chief diplomat on Uranus. The Redskins' Dan Snyder may be in line for Treasury. And Dallas' Jerry Jones is a cinch to head HHS (Headcases, Hot dogs and Strutters).

"Let's get this over with." Has everyone seen the Flyers' Mike Richards in that TV ad for West German BMW?

Richards reads his line with a combination of disgust and ennui that hasn't been seen since Travis Lee left town.

If BMW is counting on that commercial to sell its $80,000 cars, there might soon be another bailout in the works.

NASCAR note of the week. For all those who still don't believe NASCAR is for the pointy-headed, we offer this photo of driver Jason Leffler. 

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com