July 30, 2008

Nike Hyperdunk Ad III: Call a Medic!

Yo, Iyanla Vanzant, seriously... if you're reading this you NEED to get in on this action. A "Starting Over" house for Nike Hyperdunk victims. These poor fools are losing rep and chicks left and right, particularly this mouse-in-the-house, "Todd."

Hey, Ladies!!...

Nike's Hyperdunk Recovery Center is gonna need not only psychological counselors but some chiropractors, masseuses and physical therapists, STAT. Maybe even a CAT-scanner. These busters got neck problems, now head trauma and concussions... My guess is the next entrant will require a spinal realignment after forgetting to box out on some Hyperdunk-clad tip slammer. I just hope these ballers are paid up on their insurance... where's that damm duck ("AFLAC!") when you need him?

As an aside, glad to see the lousy pub the Swoosh Crew is getting up in NYC for the billboards hasn't derailed the commercial campaign. Don't cry for Nike, though. On Madison Ave, they know the only thing better than good press to push a product's recognition is BAD press (ask AND1 what the "trash talk tees" did for their company). Like Black folks with Imus, the ones who insist on some wack boycott never buy the product anyway. Thanks to their efforts, more people know about the Hyperdunk shoes now, without Kobe having to hurdle a pool of buzzsaws.


July 28, 2008

Crammed-On Chronicles IV: T-Mac ON Shawn Bradley (Put Out to Pasture with a Poster)

April 25, 2005

Dropping 34 on the host Dallas Mavericks in the opening game of their first-round playoff series, the Rockets’ newest star, Tracy McGrady, announced his intention to cement himself as a bonafide NBA superstar. With the recent expectation of a second child and a 1-0 playoff lead on the road, certainly his spirits were as high as ever. But as Game 2 approached, one could envision McGrady searching for something a little extra special to bring home to Houston.

What might his future kid see when he (if it’s a ‘he’) opens his eyes to the world every morning? How might Tracy show Junior how Daddy takes care of business? Certainly, the 6-foot-8 superstar has basketball accolades galore in his award room but let’s face it, toddlers love pictures. They gawk at posters, not trophies. After Game 1, you can imagine McGrady exploring Dallas’ Academy Sporting Goods for posters of his current stardom, only to find glossies of Kobe dunking and Dirk Nowitzki launching jumpers. If they had any Rocket posters, they’d be of Yao Ming, or, worse, Steve “The Former Franchise” Francis.

Tracy knew that if he was going to find a worthy poster of his likeness in a Rockets’ jersey, he’d just have to make one himself. He couldn’t throw down on Yao, now that he’s a teammate. But maybe he could get a little help from him.

Game 2, first quarter. While Dirk is riding T-Mac’s back in the left corner trying to strip the ball, Yao Ming is strategically backing the straw-legged Shawn Bradley into the paint. Trying to deny the toss-in to Yao, Dirk swipes at the ball on the left, leaving the baseline to the right exposed. In a burst, McGrady is gone, leaving Dirk in the vapors, and Shawn Bradley is out of position.

Bradley tries to swim around Yao’s shoulders to meet McGrady at the baseline. But Yao continued to back into Bradley, until the 7-foot-6’er was stuck at ground zero, directly in front of the hoop. The Mavs’ center leaped feebly in an attempt to meet McGrady at his apex. But with McGrady’s outstretched right arm elevating the ball high above the white rectangle, Shawn had never been this high. Not without a ladder and an oxygen mask.

T-Mac shook the Texas boomtown with a boom of his own, arguably the biggest of his career, screaming as he crushed the rim, ricocheting the ball off a cowering Bradley’s shoulder. The echo from this boom could be heard as far as the Salt Lake City office of the AARP. A stunned Rick Kamla explained, “This is what they call ‘dunkin’ on your whole family.’ And he’s from Utah, he’s got a lot of them!”

Climbing down from Mount Bradley, oblivious to teammates rolling on the floor and tossing towels, McGrady turned his attention to photographers behind the basket, as if to ask, “Did you get that? Did you get THAT?”

Meanwhile, you could look at Shawn and sense the exasperation, probably what Roberto Duran looked like when he begged, “¡No más! ¡No más!” Flash back to a career of getting punked by everyone from Shaq to Robert Pack, from Mo Taylor to Keon Clark, from Chris Webber to Ed O’Bannon, from Earl Watson to Mark Davis. An 11-year career with over 2,000 blocks, brought to an unfortunate end with one devastating “punk-tuation.” Mr. Bradley, you have AARP on line two.

McGrady’s best Game 2 highlight actually came when he brought the ball down the court with just nine seconds left in a tie game. Seven seconds and one jumper off a Yao screen later, he had his 2-0 Rockets lead to bring back to Houston. But at T-Mac’s triumphant postgame press conference, he revealed his ulterior motive, to send something better than a postcard back to Clutch City.

“That's a poster for my kids,” McGrady said. “I was hoping he was going to jump.”
Now with one glance, Tracy’s kid will wake up every morning without any doubt that he’s got quite a legacy to uphold. Keep drinking your milk, son.

Dallas would come back to bring down the Rockets in the series, solving Yao and Tracy’s two-man game and shutting down the whole team in a convincing Game 7. But for most people outside the Metroplex, the series will be remembered for the moment Tracy McGrady rode Shawn Bradley into the sunset.

Crammed-On Chronicles III: Chris Paul OVER Dwight Howard (CP3... Oh!)

December 20, 2006

Chris Paul just wants a little space. Despite his Rookie of the Year accolades, every time he drives in the lane, opposing teams treat him like Earl Boykins, cutting off passing lanes, daring him to lay it up. Opponents know the guard will drive the lane since he can’t hit threes. They also know with Peja and David West out, he’s got no passing options, unless you consider Desmond Mason or Tyson Chandler from 10 feet out an “option.” So “crowd the paint and dare Chris to lay it up around the post men” is the one-dimensional defensive game plan, and so far it has worked. Going into the matchup with the Magic, the Hornets have won only two of its past 12 games. But opponents didn’t plan on another dimension to this six-foot guard’s game.

Cut to the third quarter. Dwight Howard recognized Chris Paul’s man was lost on the pick – from the very same spot on the floor that Kobe beat his man before making a shorts ornament out of Dwight two years ago. But at least Kobe could dunk, Dwight thought to himself. As CP3 flew past him to the hoop, the 6-foot-11 center waited patiently for the layup attempt so he could go for the swat, maybe intimidate the little guy enough that he could add to his league-leading rebounds total. This time, though, there would be no layup.

Dwight was curious about the message on Chris’ yellow wristband. And Chris was more than happy to share it with Dwight as he neared the rim, offering him a point-blank view. Much to the Manchild’s dismay it didn’t read, “WWJD?” or “LIVESTRONG.” Instead, in very small font the wristband displayed the message Chris Paul offers to all future big men who dare to challenge him at the rim.



July 24, 2008

Where Are They Now? Part V (2005, updated 2008)

Victim #5 - Mike Mardesich

Quick, which Terp has been "involved" in more Maryland victories than any other player? Not Lonny Baxter, not Stevie Franchise, not Laron Profit. Try Mike Mardesich! The operative word was "involved," and not "instrumental," as M&M only could muster career highs of 5 points and 4 rebounds -- as a freshman – and generally became successful with his knack of staying the hell out of the way. Well, except this one time...

Serving as a human hurdle, thanks to Damon Thornton, probably derailed illusions of the 6-foot-11 Mardesich making the NBA as a Mark Madsen-type hustler. But he hasn't been starving. Instead he's over in the Netherlands with the "Eiffel Towers" (now renamed the much more fearful "Matrixx Magix") of Nijmegen. The monument-al reference is ironic, since when Damon banged on him it was as if he just felled the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

(2008 Update: No good update for the Croatian Sensation from Long Beach, really. He was spotted during the 2008 Final Four hanging out with former Maryland and current West Virginia assistant Billy Hahn. Perhaps he’s found another line of work. Probably not a bad idea! His last pro-hoop sighting was in 2006 in France, playing a few games with Reims Champagne Basket before falling off the face of the televised earth.)


Facializer #5 - Darryl Dawkins

Ahh, the memories! Remember the "In Your Face Disgrace!" "Sexophonic Turbo Delight!" "Cover Yo Damn Head!" "Spine Chiller Supreme!" "Yo Mama!" And of course, the "If You Ain't Groovin' Best Get Movin'-Chocolate Thunder Flyin'-Robinzine Cryin'-Teeth Shakin'-Glass Breakin'-Rump Roastin'-Bun Toastin'-Glass Still Flyin' Wham-Bam-I-Am Jam!" Jams so nasty and vicious each one got a nickname. "Snap-back" rims were inconceivable before Chocolate Thunder came on the scene. Only thing worse than getting dunked on is getting a glass shower on top of that.

Dawk is a coach now, moving on from the perennial USBL champion Pennsylvania Valley Dawgs to lead the new-look ABA's Newark Express. But I'll bet he could still take his centers on a trip to PlanetLovetron with a simple drop step in the paint.

(2008 Update: Darryl’s put coaching aside for a minute to help out the developers of Atlantic Yards (you know it as the eventual home of the Brooklyn Nets) with some sorely-needed community outreach)

Bonus: Wait, I thought Wheaties was just the Breakfast For CHAMPIONS? Oh, well, I suppose if you count USBL champions, then OK!


July 21, 2008

Oh, You Didn't Know? Tyson Chandler in Middle School

Dude was 6-9 in friggin' middle school. THIS is why there's social promotion, people!

This dunk was brought to you by your friends at BC Powder(TM), the Back Pain specialists!


July 20, 2008

Nike Hyperdunk Ad II: Have A Leroy Sandwich!

Less than a week 'til the Hyperdunk kicks hit the streets, and here's installment numero dos from the Swooshinistas. A former bully gets his comeuppance on the Brooklyn blacktop. Dunked on so bad the local bodega names a sandwich after this sorry mugg.

Take a lil' White Chocolate and mix it with a lil' Hot Sauce on the courts, add a pair of fresh Hyperdunks for a lil' posterage and whaddya got? Have a White Sausage sandwich, Terry! It's on the house! Just on principle, man, NEVER take your eyes off a white boy named Leroy...

1-877-DUNKD-ON. Operators are standing by!

July 18, 2008

Fakin Da Funk II: Kobe Over MVP Nash (GO TOWEL OFF: After This Disgusting Dunk on His Star MVP, the Suns' Owner Gets His House in Order)

DATELINE – April 27, 2006, 8:30 AM MST
U.S. Airways Center – Phoenix, Arizona

Jake and Zack were in the locker room, gleefully folding up the towels and cleaning up the lockers after last night’s Lakers-Suns playoff contest. All night and up to this morning, it was hard for the two brothers and college interns to contain their enthusiasm after their favorite player, Kobe Bryant, took off like a bullet train and left likely MVP Steve Nash hanging onto his jockstrap for the ride. They stopped what they were doing everytime the slam re-played on Sportscenter, which was often. As Kobe swung from the rim, as if to ask the capacity crowd “any questions??” the brothers instinctively winced, with a “ooooooh!” hushed just enough to keep anyone from catching their excitement. Zack whispered, “Nash knows he should’ve stepped out the way! He looked stupid enough acting like he was trying to box out Kwame Brown.” “He thought he was out of the circle, and could flop for the charge,” responded his brother. “Dumb move. I guess he thought all MVPs get that call. But you don’t mouth off at Kobe and then minutes later expect him to just lay it up off the glass over you.” A remote control abruptly shuts off the laundry room TVs.

“Jake! Zack!” Startled, they looked up quickly to see Kip, the game operations director. “The Boss wants you. Upstairs.” THE Boss wants to see the towel boys? “What for?” inquired Jake. “Go ask him… You might wanna hurry.”

As the scene shifted from concrete pillars to oak walls and marble the boys grew anxious. They’d never been up into Robert Sarver’s office before. Perhaps a promotion is in the works, they thought. In his conference room were the Directors of Basketball Operations (head coach Mike D’Antoni) and Human Resources, and in the center chair Bob was clearly not in a good mood, as he berated the Broadcasting Director on the conference phone.

“…and that’s the LAST time we use Ricky Davis for color commentary, do you understand me! Jumping up and down and screaming ‘Oh Sh*t! Oh Sh*t!’ after that Bryant dunk is NOT what I call good radio!”

“Yes sir, Mr. Sarver, it was an error in judgement. I’m deeply sorry.”

“The next FCC fine is coming out of your pocket, Al,” warned Sarver as he pressed the hangup button.

Jake extended a hand to introduce himself to the directors when Sarver cut him off. “They know who you are, ‘towel boys,’ close the door and sit down.”

“Now, I trust that you along with the rest of this proud Phoenix Suns organization are completely disgusted with our team’s performance last night.” The boys glanced at each other, then nodded in a mutual display of false agreement.

Ruth, the administrative assistant, interrupted the closed-door meeting. “Mr. Sarver, the Gorilla mascot is on line three. He said he saw some highlight last night and was so disgusted he wants to quit.”

“Tell Gorilla he’s already fired, Ruth, we have Robert Traylor all lined up to replace him in that outfit… Now, ‘towel boys,’ I witnessed something during the game last night that left an awful taste in my mouth, almost as bad as the taste Steve had last night when that offensive foul wasn’t called.” Zack began to chuckle when Sarver hollered, “Did I tell you to snicker, boy?” and quickly returned the room to glum silence. Sarver presses a button to bring down a screen showing the Kobe smash-on-Nash movie on auto-play, courtesy of Don’t Blink Mixtape (dot com).

“I was personally disappointed to witness some of our so-called ‘fans’ up there cheering in the stands as our poor little Steve was unkindly knocked to the hardwood. I’ve already rescinded the remaining playoff tickets for those turncoats. I also have the referee under review in the commissioner’s office for that lousy non-call.”

“But here’s why you’re here… freeze the play right there, Mike.”

As Kobe does his 270-degree swing on the rim, “I want you to tell me who are these two knuckleheads right here, sitting cross-legged right in front of our Suns’ home bench?”

“That’s us… sir,” admitted a red-faced Jake.

“Hit play… stop… And what are you two doing as the referee blows that whistle?”

“Pumping our fists, sir.” said the towel-boy tandem, now sinking into their chairs.

“And you, what are the exact words you’re mouthing as Kobe dunks the ball all over our poor star player?”

“I think it was, ‘And one, muthaf&*#!’” Zack received a sharp elbow from big brother. “Or something like that. Excuse my language, sir.”

“Now you know that kind of response is totally inexcusable. Gentlemen… you leave me no choice…”

Sarver pulled out a form and began signing it, in several places. The brothers tensed up, awaiting their punishment and fate.

“You’ve… been… traded.”

“What?” blurted a stunned Jake.

“Don’t question me, boy, you heard me. That’s right, traded… for one cute, dedicated Laker Girl cheerleader and future cash considerations. Now you can go cheer on your man Kobe all you want, and dry his punk ass off, too.”

“But you can’t send us to L.A., we’re still enrolled in spring semester!”

“Don’t give me that college crap, it’s the University of Phoenix. It’s not like they don’t have a campus in every stinking city! Go to L.A. and see if a real college will take you punks in. See if Jerry Buss will pay your room and board too! Now get out of my office and get to packing!”

As the whimpering towel boys exited with the Personnel Director to finalize the paperwork and ponder their futures, D’Antoni offered a final plea for some compassion. “Now Bob, c’mon, trading the towel boys? Don’t you think you’re being a little hard on these kids? After all… they are your children.”

“Don’t tell me how to raise my sons, Mike. But hey, thanks for the tip about that Don’t Blink thing, I’ve been looking for that Matrix dunk over Al Harrington for years! Whooo that was so nasty!” The men had a chuckle as Sarver led D’Antoni to the door. “Get outta here or you’ll be late for your flight. Let’s get ‘em back in Game 3.” Ruth peeked her head in again as D’Antoni leaves.

“Mr. Sarver, I’m sorry. Stephon Marbury is on line two from New York. He sounds like he’s crying ‘Whyyyyyy?’ over and over and I don’t understand…”
“Tell Steph to get some counseling and mind his own damn business, he wishes he could take playoff facials like that. Oh, and, Ruth… get the private videoconference ready and put all my calls on hold while I, uh, ‘interview’ the Laker Girl!”


July 16, 2008

Fakin Da Funk I: Kobe Over Dwight (BAPTIZED: A Young Star and Future Preacher Finds Inspiration, Even in the Most Embarassing of Basketball Moments)

November 13, 2004, 1:15 PM EST

Dwight Howard II stretched on the lawn of his Altamonte Springs mansion and checked his watch... again. The Second Sanctified Church of the True Holy Spirit was throwing a picnic for their newest and most high-profile parishioner, but the guest of honor was running a little late. “Where is Big D?” he wondered.

Not long after, a gleaming pearl-white Hummer H2 rolled down the cul-de-sac. The driver slowed to a stop before Dwight and opened the front passenger door, blasting Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp” loud enough to vibrate the whole neighborhood. The driver, Big Dwight, was now a good half-foot shorter than his son. He snatched Dwight’s long arm as if to hurry him into the SUV. For a moment, Little Dwight thought he was being abducted before he recognized his namesake.

“Pops, what in heaven’s name is going on?” Big Dwight was wearing dark-tinted sunglasses… connected to a brown rubber nose and fuzzy eyebrows.

“Quick, put this on!” his father insisted, handing him a plastic bag. Inside the bag was a wig. A blonde, but very much afro, wig. Reminiscent of Barbara Streisand during the “A Star is Born” years.

“Father! Have you gone mad?”

“Who told you to be standing outside? You can’t be seen in public right now. There’s too much commotion.”

“Commotion? About what?” Dwight II reached for the bag of almonds sitting between them, only to have his hand slapped.

“Haven’t you been served enough nuts already?” Now the plot begins to dawn on the rookie forward.

“What in the world happened Thursday night?”

“Oh, THAT… C’mon, Pops, it was no big deal. Kobe got into it with a heckler at courtside in the second quarter. They were saying all the curse words there are to say. Then Kobe got up and I overheard him saying to the guy, ‘You woke me up now,’ but I didn’t know what he meant by that… until a little later.”

“So you knew Kobe was gonna do something. Why couldn’t you step out from under the basket? You just threw your hands up like you were under arrest and jumped right under the basket!”

“Well, Pops… I’ve got to testify. I was distracted because a split-second before Kobe got open in the lane… I looked up and I saw the Son of God.”

“Really? I thought that Shammgod kid had only one daughter!”

“NO, Pops, you’re getting senile. I saw Him. J.C.!”

Dwight the elder rolled his eyes. “Oh great, the ‘vision’ thing again. Where was he this time, up in the rafters, eating Jujyfruits?”

“There was this bright flash, you see. Then He appeared out of the flash. Looked more like Doc this time, you remember last time in that high school game I said He showed up looking like Scot Pollard? Anyway, as His image grew closer, I thought I heard Him say something like, ‘James 4:6,’ and then he touched my face with his purple scarf.”

“Some scarf! That was Kobe ’s purple shorts, son!”

“I know, that’s when Kobe screamed ‘get off me!’ and I snapped out of it, and the whole crowd looked like those monkeys you see in the cartoons, with some covering their mouths and others covering their eyes. Kobe didn’t look at his teammates when he ran back up court, but instead he stared down the heckler and said, ‘Did that wake you up?’… You don’t believe any of this, do you? It’s no lie! Go to Don’t Blink Mixtape dot com and see the video for yourself Just like that time in high school, my hands were up in the air before Kobe even stepped in the paint. I was jumping in the midst of praise, not trying to block a shot. Mine eyes had seen the glory…”

“Obviously not of the coming of the Kobe . What did your so-called teammates say for hanging you out to dry like that?”

“Pat Garrity was like, ‘My bad, Dwight,’ for letting Kobe blow by him off the pick. And the Christian teammate that I am, I just had to forgive him, it’s not his fault he’s such a stiff. I told Franchise about my vision after the game, and he said Kobe thought during that play he experienced the Second Coming himself.”

“Really?” Big Dwight parks the car at the Publix.

“Then he said, ‘Yeah, right, Kobe. The First Coming was when you porked that scank hoe up in Colorado!’ Forgive me, I’m just quoting. Stevie is always jokes.”

“Yeah, we’ll see if that ballhog is still laughing when the GM ships him to the Knicks or somewhere like that. And I’m glad that philanderer Kobe ’s not on your team, that old heathen… James 4:6, huh? ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

“So, Pops, you think Jesus was trying to warn me not to get too proud?”

“Either that, or LeBron’s gonna drop 46 on you next time you teams play. Run in and pick up my order of potato salad, I’m too embarrassed to be seen in there.”

Dwight still couldn’t seem to understand why his father is making such a big deal about the dunk that he has to go incognito. Heading from the deli counter to the checkout, Dwight received the usual smiles and greetings, but the scene was a bit eerie. If he COULD swear, he would swear that he heard the guys snickering at the meat counter as he passed, something about trying the meatballs. When he turned to look, the guys each turned their backs, bit their lips and tried to appear busy.

A young teen suddenly appeared, shy and clutching a Sharpie pen. “Hi Mister Howard.” The poor boy was wearing a bright yellow knee-length coat, which seemed odd to Dwight because it was still very warm outside even though it was November. But Dwight was still thrilled to see he is already becoming recognized by the impressionable youth of America . “Well, hello, young man, how may I bless you, today?”

“Uhhhhhh, I was, ummmmm, wondering if you’ll sign something for me.”

Dwight couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. “Why sure, anything for a fine young Magic fa-” Immediately upon affirmation, the kid snapped upon the coat buttons to unveil an XXL-sized tee with an iron-on of an exultant Kobe flushing the ball authoritatively while almost eye-level with the rim, his crotch riding the armpit of poor Dwight, who peers out from under him, eyes affixed to the heavens.

Crash. “Cleanup on Checkout Aisle 8!” as a bagger drops some lady’s pickle jar after witnessing this kid’s brazen act of treachery. But Dwight’s faithful upbringing had helped him learn to turn the other cheek, or armpit as the case may be. “Where do you want me to sign?”

“Daddy said anywhere but on your forehead, he’s saving that spot for Kobe .”

Below the net, Dwight penned, “Jesus Saves! Dwight Howard #12.” The kid muttered a lame “thank you” and ran off looking down at his mission-accomplished. The kid stopped at the door and returned.

“Mister Howard, Jesus Saves? We’re Jewish!”

“God probably won’t hold that against you, son.” Dwight replied, patting the teen on the head, almost forgetting that probably just six years separate them. “Tell Daddy not to sell that on E-bay, okay?”

Climbing back into the H2, he couldn’t wait to tell what happened. But Big D was checking his voicemail.

“Phew! It’s the bank president… says he sorry and it won’t happen again… won’t press charges… that was a close one.” Dwight lifted his eyebrows as his father finally removed the rubber nose-and-glasses. “Son, I’m sorry. This morning I popped the bank manager in his nose.”
Dwight II was astonished. “What? Why would you do such a thing? They wouldn’t open you a new account?”

“Well the guy asked for some ID, and when he looked it over he was like, ‘Oh yes, yes, Dwight Howard! So I hear Kobe Bryant knooooows your son?’ And I say, ‘Of course he does! They play in the NBA together.’ Then the smart-aleck goes, ‘Noooo, I meant in the Biblical sense. Kobe really “knows” him now, huh?’ And he’s laughing and winking! The nerve of that guy! So I stood up, Lord forgive me I hauled off on him, then grabbed back my things and took off running for the Hummer. On camera, I know it looked like I stole something, but I was too fast for the guards to stop me. So that’s why I’m in hiding, I wasn’t ashamed of you or anything. I’m just glad we didn’t wind up on the news or get arrested at the church picnic!”

“I can’t blame you, Pops. But I’m glad it turned out okay.”

“Uncle Buster called from ATL. Said he heard Nike wants to use that dunk in ads to help Kobe get back to selling some sneakers. Putting up murals and billboards in big cities everywhere. You remember the preseason dunk Kobe had over Ben Wallace?

“Yeah, you had Buster blow it up into a poster for me. Adidas airbrushed all the other players out, and the name on the back of Wallace’s jersey. That was a sick dunk. It’s still up on the wall back home, right?”

“Yeah, but it sounds like Nike wants to airbrush your behind next. That Williams kid getting you at the Roundball Classic was one thing. But this here…”

That Williams kid. Dwight recalled the Slamadamonth-worthy poster from last year when the UNC recruit from Seattle made a big name for himself by flying past him and cramming the rock. Dwight the elder spent months with his wisecracking State trooper buddies explaining away the poster: Little Dwight was late on the play; there was a switch; he wasn’t really dunked “on;” Josh Smith took it worse from Marvin in the first half.

“…we can’t spin-doctor this Kobe dunk here… Enough with this rookie play, it’s time you smashed on a few veterans, Little D. There’s plenty of victims out there just lined up for you! I mean, Eddy Curry’s out there, you can pack one on Big Ben. And what’s that dude’s name, Rasho…”

“I don’t need to prove myself to anybody, Pops! I’m the number-one overall pick!”

“So was that Kandi Man guy, and look what Amare did to his career.”

“True, true… Nesterovic, Pops, Nesterovic. Isn’t this too much like revenge, though?”

“Yeah, Nesterovic, whatever. I didn’t say to dunk in Kobe’s mug, that would be revenge, and God might not forgive you even though I sure as heck would. You make enough poster children outta these other guys and people will forget all about what Kobe did to you. Look how Ben Wallace stepped up his game. These days, most people don’t know who that big bald-headed fool in Vegas was. All you ever hear is, ‘Remember when Kobe crossed up some guard dunked all on some big guy in preseason?’ Some big guy, ha!”

“Maybe I should just grow a ‘fro, Pops.”

“You don’t need to… don’t you see I just bought you one!”

The Howards arrived at the Eatonville park laughing hysterically. Joining the fellow churchgoers was fun and spiritually uplifting, but minutes later Dwight turned his attention to the kid’s basketball court, complete with 8-foot rims and wild adolescents. As would be expected, the kids all tried to jump up and slam the ball through the hoop, role-playing their favorite NBA ballers.

“I’m D-Wade!”
“No, you can’t be Vince too!”
“Watch me do like T-Mac off the backboard.”

Then one tall fat kid proclaimed, “I’m Dwight Howard.” The glee Dwight experienced would again be short-lived, as all the other youngsters tried to do their best Kobe Bryant impersonation, climbing up on the all-too-compliant chubster’s shoulders to jam the ball through the rim, to eruptions of childish laughter.

“You’re not eating your chicken.” It was the Right Reverend Bishop Teikyo Money.

“Oh, uh, hi Bishop Money, glory to God! No, I’m eating light, we’ve got a game in Philly tomorrow.”

“You seem so dispirited. What’s going on, my good brother?”

“Well Bishop Money, here I am, a Naismith Award winner, PARADE All-American, won all the High School Player of the Year awards, MVP of the McDonald’s All-Star game, State basketball champ, 18 rebounds and 8 blocks a game, and the first high schooler ever taken number one in the draft. I think with all I’ve accomplished I’ve been feeling… a little too proud lately.”

“You’re not suffering from pride, brother Dwight, you’re just recognizing all the gifts that Gawd has given you and the potential you have with all these gifts. It can be overwhelming at times. Now, Satan, he’ll come along and try to distract you from your true purpose. I happened to read Dime magazine the other day. And you said you wanted to be the first person to do what?”

“To dunk on Shaq, Reverend Money.”

“Now first of all, Kobe Bryant was the last to get him, jumped right over his head for a tip jam in practice. That was what started the rift that caused Shaq to split for Miami . And you’re probably too young to remember Derrick Coleman and Clifford Robinson.”

Dwight was just getting over the Reverend’s choice of magazines, and was now amazed by his hoops knowledge. “Old Uncle Cliffy did that?”

“He wasn’t so old, but go ask your father. Anyway, I ask you, with all the gifts Gawd has bestowed upon you, is dunking on Shaq the real purpose Gawd has set aside for you?”

“You have a good point there, Pastor.”

The Reverend shifted into full-on preacher mode. “Now sometimes, Satan will try to knock you down. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to dunk on you-suh. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to break ya off at the ankles-suh. Sometimes-suh, he’ll try to throw genitalia-suh in your face-suh, Hit ya in the forehead-suh with the Spalding-suh…” All he needed was a B3 organ and some more “right ons,” and the sermon could be delivered a day too early, but the Reverend was rolling as he placed his hand on Dwight’s shoulder. “But every time-suh, you got to riiiiiiiise up-suh, and play full of the Spirit-suh, the True Spirit, it’s faaaantastic-suh! Can I get an Amen!”

“Amen, preacher.” With Reverend Money hopping fanatically, Dwight felt infinitely better about himself at that moment than he had all weekend long, although the flying Jheri Curl juice would certainly dissuade him from finishing his barbeque plate.

After coming down from on high, Reverend Money leaned into his future deacon. “Would you do me a big favor, Brother Dwight?”

“Why sure, anything.”

“Well you see… I’ve got these XXL T-shirts here I’d like to sell, for the church you know…”

“Sorry, I’ve got to go, Reverend Money, God be with you. Hey Pops! We’re outta here.”


July 8, 2008

Crammed-on Chronicles II: Matrix ON Al Harrington (Hero-to-Zero in 1.8 Seconds)

One young player makes the spectacular slam that heralds his entry into stardom, while another witnesses the event up-close-and… way too personal.

January 11, 2001

Four-on-one fast break… and to your dismay you’re the “one.” Every one of your teammates has left you hung out to dry, at the mercy of your opponents. Defenders wake up in cold sweats at night after nightmares like this. The guy with the ball might dribble it right at you and challenge you to make a play, or he and his teammates play keep-away and leave you awkwardly out of position as the ball approaches the rim.

When a player gets stuck backpedaling like this, there’s only two legitimate choices. Fight or Flee? It can be a tough dilemma. Experienced NBA veterans know how to get out of Dodge gracefully if the prospects for disrupting the play are low. But every once in awhile you get somebody who strives to be a hero, willing to risk taking one for the team as the foil on some opponent’s highlight reel, hoping he’ll produce his own. Often it’s someone who’s young, impressionable, not nuanced enough to know how to slide out of the paint without looking like some frightened rabbit and getting chewed out by his coach for lacking courage. Rather than a hare, envision a squirrel that sauntered into the street and is suddenly beset by an oncoming Winnebago trailer. Lacking the instincts to know exactly what to do or which way to run, instead it’ll often choose to simply freeze up and hope for the best.

Fight or Flee? On this warm Arizona night a young, impressionable Indiana Pacer named Al Harrington is caught in just such a predicament. After two years of riding the pine since coming fresh out of out of high school, he’s displayed enough tenacity and athleticism that the coach (at the time, a still highly respected Isiah Thomas) has just begun awarding him starter’s minutes. As the Suns retrieved the ball, he stuck with his assigned man, the supremely underwhelming Chris Dudley. But his lethargic Pacer teammates seemed to be stuck in tar while their respective opponents zipped across halfcourt without them.

From Harrington’s position, approaching at twelve o’clock was Jason Kidd, the Suns’ star point guard who was fully capable of finishing a fast break with a well-timed pass or a crafty lay-in. To Kidd’s left was a coming-of-age forward named Shawn Marion, only in his second year and quietly filling up stat sheets, but a player like Harrington still striving to make a name for himself in The League. To the far right with the ball was Penny Hardaway, a past-his-prime wing player who, when healthy, was still able to produce highlight plays in clutch situations. The slowest man to get to the defensive end, suddenly it’s Dudley in prime position to be rewarded as the player ahead of the entire pack once the Suns got the ball back. Abandoned by his teammates, only Harrington can thwart an easy field goal by Dudley.

Penny lasers a bounce pass across the court just beyond Harrington’s fingertips into the waiting upper limbs of Dudley, reaching down nearly seven feet to gather the ball at his ankles. In the middle of the game and holding a comfortable lead, a savvy veteran who did his homework would have immediately dived in to hack Dudley, then the NBA’s reigning poster-child for missing free throws. Even Shaq cringed every time this cat got to the line. Dude spent the previous twelve seasons never shooting above 56 percent (his rookie season), and the season before broke an NBA record with thirteen consecutive bricks-slash-airballs. Now the seven-foot Yale graduate possessed the ball just feet away from the basket and was intelligent enough to know immediately what to do… get rid of it before he screws it up.

Harrington scrambled behind Dudley and, rather than draw the foul, reached around him in a vain attempt to dislodge the ball, thinking Dudley would instinctively spin and try to lay it in. He was then caught dumbfounded as Dudley shoveled the ball from his ankles toward a charging Shawn Marion. Here comes the trailer…

Fight or Flee? The question seemed pretty simple for Harrington to answer when it was the plodding Dudley he was dealing with. But now it’s the lightning round and as he turns to face Marion, who’s about to take flight, he has a split second to decide what to do. Jump into attack mode and go for the swat? Slide to the side in hope for a missed lay-up and rebound? Or jump right under the basket, toes just beyond the restricted area, and hope for a sympathetic charge call? Played out of position, he hops into the squirrel approach. Sorry, Al, wrong answer. VRROOOM.

Back at the TNT studios, the NBA crew scrambled to find words to describe this breakout player with the breakout play of the season. Kenny Smith already had the words. Enter “The Matrix,” the name he dubbed Marion during a preseason game in his rookie season. Scouts knew and, eventually, fantasy players would know the man with the classic “tweener” build could do literally anything with his multifaceted game. Pass, shoot (awkwardly, yeah, but the ball still seems to go in), board, block. But few who failed to watch him at UNLV knew he could do what he just did, until now. The New York Times would even pull out the anatomy book to explain Marion’s exploits, asserting he was blessed with “fast-twitch” fibers in his legs that were superior to most athletes… the “American Jumping Bean,” a nickname that thankfully never caught on.

Anatomic explanations were certainly no salve for the unfortunate Al Harrington, destined for SportsCenter, YouTube, and poster-making infamy. Harrington would go on for years without a popular nickname, unless you count, “the poor fool whose forehead got tied up in Matrix’s drawstrings.” Trying futilely to draw the charge, he managed to go from Hero-to-Zero in less than two seconds. The lessons were there in plain view for all ballers to see… four-on-one fastbreaks rarely end pretty when you’re the one. So if you value your teammates at all, don’t leave them hanging, and stick with your man when the ball’s in transition.

Fight or Flee? Years later, Harrington’s recovered from this split-second embarrassment to become a starting forward and make a decent free agent pay-day for himself. And if you ask him that question, he’ll be glad to let you know he’ll still fight. Only this time, opponents flying into the lane had better protect themselves, because now Al’s armed with a stiff right jab. Now a crafty veteran, he’s smart enough not to be caught defenseless under the rim any more. No matter what teams they’re playing for, anytime The Matrix unleashes another aerial assault, Harrington ought to be giving his teammates a heads-up. “C’mon Mickael, don’t you watch YouTube?”


July 3, 2008

You Just Got YouTubed! Part I

Welcome to Nasteedunx’s Wide World of Online Poster Dunks. We’re spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of facials. The thrill of victory (horns) and the agony of dee feet in dee face…

“Stars” don’t do these kinds of videos justice, so rate the videos below from one to five “Teabags.” Away we go...

Contestant #1 – The Road to Victimization starts at an early age. Very early. When they say “Kid Gets Dunked On,” usually the unfortunate “kid” in question has at least surpassed puberty. Adonal Foyle’s 10 Year Old Birthday Party probably went a lil’ somethin’ like this…

Contestant #2 – But then we grow older, and wiser, or at least, wider. Then “dunking on kids” loses its appeal. For most of us anyway…

Contestant #3 – I wonder, whatever happened to the sneaker stores where they let you try out some new kicks on some makeshift court with seven-foot rims? Dude above the rim had to be like, “Thanks, I’ll take these. Yo, bud, while I’m up here would ya mind fixing my shoelaces?”

Contestant #4 – Ya know, with friends like these… who needs ladders?

Contestant #5 – Again, I ask you, with friends like these…

Contestant #6 – One last time, I ask you…


What? What?