By Steve Czaban Special to Published Apr 07, 2004 at 5:22 AM

{image1} Despite the fact that the Connecticut Huskies easily dispatched the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Monday's title game, the experience for the losers will be remembered just as long as it will for the winners.

They'll just regret it a lot more.

Before the Final Four began, Yellowjacket PG Jarrett Jack was asked if he had talked with last year's Georgia Tech stud Chris Bosh, now of the Toronto Raptors. Jack said he had, and that he told Bosh he had no idea what he was missing.

Boy, ain't that the truth.

Not only does Bosh have no idea of the transcendent magic that goes with a basketball team on a deep run in March Madness. But he may never have as meaningful a game as Tech did on Monday night in his entire life.

Don't think that's possible? Ask Christian Laettner, who lived at the Final Four, going all four years with Duke and winning twice. His NBA career, by contrast, has featured 819 games in 12 seasons. Of those 819 games, a mere 32 have been in the playoffs. None past the second round.

That's about as meaningless as it can get. Especially for a guy who is certainly not a "bust" even though he never did prove worthy of the #3 overall selection in 1992. Laettner is currently on his 5th NBA team, having been traded several times for no other reason than that he fit a required "salary slot" to make a multi-player deal possible.

If you are Laettner, I wonder how much he thinks back to his days at Duke while realizing that it just never got any better than college? Oh sure, the pay got better, a lot better. But after 12 years of fat NBA paydays Laettner can no longer outspend his riches with cars, mansions, or diamonds.

And this is not to bash Chris Bosh for turning pro when he did. After all, Bosh went 4th overall (a lot like Laettner) and is averaging 11.4 points and 7.3 boards for the Raptors (a lot like Laettner's 18 & 8 as a rookie).

Bosh signed a guaranteed contract for $13.6 million over four years, an average of $2.9 per. "How can he turn down that kind of money," goes the standard argument from rush to the cash window crowd.

There is no appropriate answer to that question, because it presents a false choice to begin with. A freshman star in college who chooses to stay in college for one, two or even three more years, does not forfeit his professional career, he merely delays it. Of course injuries and a regression in play may render him somewhat less attractive in the short run, but if he can play in the NBA, he'll play in the NBA.

And get paid.

So I guess what I am saying is: Would Georgia Tech's trip to the Final Four have been worth $2.9 million to Chris Bosh just so he could stay in school for one more year? Just so he could have the chance to know what it is like going to bed nervous thinking about the game of his life?

There were tears in that Georgia Tech locker room on Monday night, you can count on that. In the NBA, they don't really do tears. Not unless the paternity test comes back "positive."

But $2.9 million sure seems like a lot, doesn't it? Not when you consider that at Bosh's current rate, he'll probably be dangled a "max contract" when he's due for free agency in three more years. That means barring a catastrophic injury, Bosh will make close to (or well more than) $100 million in his career as a pro.

What exactly do most NBA players purchase with their riches? Meaningful things, of course, like SUV's with 7 TV screens and gigantic woofers in the trunk. Or mansions so big, that they don't have the time nor interest to even properly furnish them. Unless you count arcade games and soda machines as "furniture." And don't forget the jewel crusted necklace with your nickname and number spelled out in pure 2 karat diamonds. A few hundred designer Italian suits will clip you another half a mil, so that brings your life fortune for putting an orange ball into a net down to a mere $82 million or so.

With that left in your pocket, you'll spend every night on the road during the season in a strip club, throwing around 100's until sun up and it still won't make you miss a car payment.

Right now, Chris Bosh is on a Raptors team that is a slow boat to nowhere. Their coach, Kevin O'Neill, has already worn thin his welcome and will likely be fired. At 30-46 (good for 11th place in the "NBA Least") there are no "One Shining Moments" for Bosh.

Except on the 1st and 15th of every month, and you can't make a highlight reel out of that.

All this, while his former teammates have felt the highest of highs and then the lowest of lows in a span of 48 hours. What I wonder, does Bosh feel these days? Does he think: "Wow, I can't wait to get back to the back seat of my Hummer and play some more X-Box!"

I have a friend who is a broadcaster in the NBA, and "the life" as he mockingly calls it, ceases to be glamorous sometime around the second lap through every major airport in North America. Even now, with luxurious charters flights (nobody flies commercial), the NBA life is still just a highly paid grind. Eighty-two dates of working for the man, mostly in front of lifeless corporate arenas where musical interludes during live action keep the building from sounding like a mausoleum.

One fabulously furnished hotel room blends into another. One decadent $100 steak dinner on the road becomes a never ending stampede. And the women are all well endowed, wild, and willing.

Ho hum.

Look, I am not trying to sell the old "education is important" angle for players to stay in school. The heck with that. You will educate yourself as a person in life, only if you are willing to listen and learn from life's lessons.

No, this is an appeal for college players to stay in school for a more simple reason. That's because the best basketball moments of their life may never come from anywhere else.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.