Personal Lives

'Nerd' lawyer spotted differing 3-point lines at NCAA women's tournament; 'once you saw it, you couldn't unsee it'

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The NCAA logo is displayed at the PPG Paints Arena, then known as the Consol Energy Center, in Pittsburgh on March 18, 2015. (Photo by Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press)

Thanks to a lawyer sitting in nosebleed seats, the NCAA learned over the weekend that the two three-point lines in the women’s basketball tournament at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, were different lengths.

Four games had already been played when lawyer Michael McGrath spotted the discrepancy, report the Willamette Week and the Washington Post. The Associated Press also had coverage.

“I saw it in like 3 seconds,” McGrath told the Willamette Week.

“Once you saw it,” he told the Washington Post, “you couldn’t unsee it.”

McGrath practices family law in Oregon and Washington at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath. He said he’s never been to a women’s basketball game, but he decided to attend because he lives near the Moda Center, and the tickets were cheap.

McGrath took pictures of the lines and posted them on Reddit. When he saw a nearby fan waving to a person who was courtside, McGrath suggested that the fan text the courtside person about the problem. Soon, officials were measuring the two arcs of the three-point lines. One line was 9 inches short of regulation at the apex.

Coaches decided to play the game anyway, rather than delay it. Paint was used to correct the error before Monday night’s game.

The Willamette Week conducted a Q&A with McGrath. The publication asked how he spotted the problem.

“I’m a lawyer, so that’s what I do all day long, I proofread stuff,” he said. “I notice grammar mistakes. I do divorce, so half my job is negotiation, and half is making sure that whatever we negotiate is accurate. That, and I’m probably just a nerd.”

The Willamette Week asked McGrath how his family reacted to his moment in the spotlight.

“My wife said, ‘Of course it’s you. You literally trim the Christmas tree and make sure there’s no branch out of sync.’ Well, yes. I’m not paying $80 for a Christmas tree and having it lopsided. I’m probably just Type A.”

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