With Villanova and Michigan meeting Monday night for the 2018 NCAA national championship game, Los Angeles Lakers rookie Josh Hart and general manager Rob Pelinka figure to spend the team’s off day on pins and needles.
When Villanova reached the Final Four in San Antonio, Hart, who recently returned from a fracture in his left hand, began contemplating possible scenarios that would allow him to watch his Wildcats if they made it to the title game.
Hart was among the Lakers visibly frustrated after Sunday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, and said he wasn’t sure if attending the game would be feasible. Complicating matters is the Lakers have their final true road contest of the season on Tuesday when they play the Utah Jazz.
While his allegiance is clear, Hart stopped short of making any sort of prediction. “I’m not saying. I’m not jinxing anything,” he said. “I’m just hoping they kept a couple threes in their back pocket.”
Villanova broke the record for the most 3-pointers in a single Final Four game with 18 makes in their semifinal win against Kansas on Saturday night. The Wildcats’ 13 threes in the first half tied a record.
The thrill that comes with playing in the NCAA tournament is something Hart will never forget, particularly considering he was a member of the 2016 team that won the national championship. “It’s incredible. It might be the most fun you ever have playing basketball, especially when you win it,” he said of the experience.
“When we won, I think probably five of the six teams that we beat, five of them were top-five at some time in the season. We beat them and how we beat them was big. We were just having fun. The Final Four can be a circus at times but that’s some of the most fun playing basketball you’ll ever have.”
As of Sunday night, Hart and Pelinka hadn’t yet placed any sort of friendly wager on the national championship. “We had to make sure we were both in it first,” Hart explained. “We’re both in it, so we’ll talk.”
And though most players, especially a rookie, might shy away from bantering with their general manager, Hart doesn’t see reason to. “I can talk trash to anybody,” he joked. With one exception, however.
“Besides Jesus Christ, that’s the only person I would not talk trash to.”