"Bill Bradley is the old fashioned athlete who is not all self-glorification." David Maraniss, Hardball, CNBC, 1/3/00.

This is a summation of an image that Bradley has meticulously honed over the years, which the media has embraced. Every time I hear it, my stomach growls. A specific incident in Bill Bradley's career belies this myth, and suggests a contrary, manipulative character along with a brilliance in media exploitation that has served him well in his career.

Bradley's 1965 Princeton team made the NCAA final four, along with Wichita State, Michigan, and UCLA. Princeton was matched against Michigan in the first semi-final and was routed, 93-76. In the second semi-final, UCLA outgunned Wichita State, 108-89, with UCLA's best player, guard Gail Goodrich, playing barely half the game.

In those days the two losers played a "consolation game," a match so meaningless that it was eliminated in 1981. But the game was obviously important to Bradley, as his performance documented. Bradley wanted something out of the Tournament. Since it was now clear that Princeton would not win the Championship, the only thing left was to win the Player of the Tournament award, which had never before gone to a player not in the Championship game.

Wichita State was a badly weakened opponent having lost its star, All American Dave Stallworth, to graduation shortly before the tournament started, so the outcome was not in doubt. Despite the lack of competition, Bradley played the entire game, shooting at every opportunity, scoring 56 points almost at will while annihilating Wichita State 118-82, and setting the cheesiest NCAA Tournament scoring record ever recorded.

In the only game that mattered, the NCAA Championship game between UCLA and number-one ranked Michigan, the Bruins were without their All American Forward, Keith Erickson, who had been felled by a pulled muscle. So the pressure fell squarely on Goodrich, who rose to the occasion by scoring an NCAA final-game record 42 points in leading the Bruins to its second consecutive title, 91-80.

But Goodrich was just a basketball player and was overmatched against Bradley when it came to influencing the media, who chose the All-Tournament team. Bradley, by virtue of his obvious grandstanding performance in an insignificant game, achieved his goal. The media ignored the facts and chose Bradley as the Player of the Tournament rather than the gutty Goodrich, who was so pivotal to UCLA's upset victory over Michigan in the Championship Final.

To present Bill Bradley as a self-effacing player who eschewed personal aggrandizement is simply disingenuous. Bradley's 1965 Princeton-Wichita State game hardly supports the portrait of "an old-fashioned athlete who is not all self-glorification," an image Bradley has shamelessly accepted. If not for self-glorification, why did he continue gunning as if there were no tomorrow in a game his team won by 36 points? Rather, it shows a well-hidden selfish, Machiavellian flair and demonstrates a side of Bill Bradley not seen in the media or in the bright lights of the campaign trail.