August 27, 2008

Where Are They Now? VII (2008, POLITICS EDITION)

Typically, you get some Where Are They Now feature archived from the old Yahoo! site, around 2005-2006, bolstered with a 2008 update. Well, you know, somewhere between WATN Numbers 6 and 8 I forgot to do a number 7. Reading IS Fundamental, kids! So, to compensate for our demonstrated incapacity of counting to ten, just in time for the Party Conventions, here at Nasteedunx we’re inserting a fresh new Where Are They Now 7: Politics Edition.

Victim #7: Reggie Love


Yeahhhh… THAT Reggie Love. Chew it, swallow and digest that. Now, say it once more with me.


You Nasteedunx purists will point out that, technically, Mister Love doesn’t qualify for a WATN, since his personal shame-of-fame never took place on the hardwood. Or the blacktop. Not even the driveway. Nonetheless, ol’ boy shurrrr found a way to get teabagged. Pretty badly, in plain view for all posterity. So badly, in fact, he got kicked off the Duke basketball team by Coach Krzyzewski. Gosh, not even Greg “Green Tea” Paulus can claim that!

A 6’-5” Charlotte native and former All-American football player and North Carolina high school hoops player of the year, Reggie was an up-and-coming forward for the Duke Blue Devils, a walk-on for Coach K’s eventual 2001 championship squad. He was also a two-sport star, starting at wide receiver for Dookie football. Despite his emerging development and “Big Man on Campus” status , a spate of injuries sidetracked his ability to do either sport consistently.

One thing which the Cameron Crazies suggest, and the Lacrosse team confirmed, is that Duke athletes and their fans sure know how to party hardy. Reggie Love was no exception. Before heading back down Tobacco Road one night after a game in 2002, Love decides he’ll spend an evening away from the team at an NC State frathouse. And whether you’re in Rome or Raleigh, you do as the Romans do, y’know? Placing way to much trust in his newfound Wolfpack-in-Sheep’s-Clothing friends, he partook in the imbibing of a few adult-beverages-of-choice. Quite a few. More than enough to get a lil’ tipsy. Enough to leave him passed out, flat-assed-cold on some shoddy (Gawd-knows-what)-stained fraternity futon.

Now all throughout modern anthropology, college frat boys have been well known for embellishing outlandish personal stories where they dished out some measure of comeuppance to college jocks, especially when there were no witnesses to verify the story. For example, aided by just a little inebriation, one of my own frat brethren will be more than happy to share with you every detail of how he allegedly dropped knobs with Rick Fox after a run-in one Sunday morning during a drinking-buddy trip to Chapel Hill. It’s something I suppose he thought was at least remotely feasible and, to somebody not named Vanessa Williams, impressive. Anyway, it’s always convenient to tell the tale when there’s nobody with a tape or a photo or some scintilla of proof. But get a picture or two, and it becomes really hard not to blab to any fool who’ll listen. It’s even harder in the new millennium, when you can spread the embarrassment worldwide via the World Wide Web with little effort at all. All those in the collegiate world who weren’t familiar with the usage of “teabag” as a verb, were now simply two clicks from viewing Reggie Love as Exhibit A.

The news of the ‘bagging incident spread like wildfire through the Piedmont, in Raleigh, Winston-Salem and especially Chapel Hill. The timing couldn’t have been any worse back in Greensboro for Love, as he was just explaining his way out of an Underage Driving While Intoxicated charge from the previous fall to the athletics department and the (legal) courts. Mortified by the dual displays of poor judgment, Coach K had enough, suspending Reggie indefinitely for a “Violation of Team Rules.” What was not crystal clear right away to those who reading newspapers about the suspension was, by that time, thoroughly unambiguous to those flooding college hoop chat rooms and message boards.

Reggie may have gotten banished from Duke hoops, but he wouldn’t leave the school without getting re-focused and snaring a bachelor’s degree in political science. He managed to stick with the talent-starved football team and led the Blue Devils in receptions in his senior year. Still NCAA-eligible, he was allowed to return to the basketball team in 2004, and through it all endured the kind of love on the road that only an ACC heckler can bring to the arena. Recognizing his innate leadership qualities, growth and maturity on and off the court, the ‘04-‘05 Blue Devils voted Reggie Love, bringing all of his 1.6 points per game to the table, as its team captain.

By the end of 2005, though, his hopes for a pro football career were dashed, following uneventful training camp runs with the Green Bay Packers (as a receiver) and Dallas Cowboys (as a Bill Parcells project at linebacker). Reggie found himself searching for a new lease on life, and a way, applying his poli-sci pedigree, to disassociate himself as best he could with the “politics of the past.”

Reggie Love realized he needed a change. Change He Could Believe In.

Enter a presidential candidate equipped with a wicked drop-step move and 20-foot range.

Latching onto Senator Barack Obama’s staff and his underdog campaign early on has put him in the catbird seat as the Democratic nominee’s right-hand man. He started out as a “staff assistant,” merely a mailroom hack. He would find out that, mostly due to superstitions and to relieve tension, the Junior Senator from Illinois loved to run ball on the day of major events like primaries. And in the mailroom, Obama found the perfect guy to break him off at the ankles and post him up in the paint. This mailroom guy came equipped with a Duke degree and sports connections like former Dookie Chris Duhon, who’d jump at the chance to play some 3-on-3 with a potential Baller-in-Chief. Obama’s “3-on-3 Challenge for Change” events drew rave reviews during the primaries.

Even more importantly, he found someone eager to perform the simple yet persistent deeds that come with being the designated “Body Man” for a presidential contender. Now Reggie Love has vaulted from the shadows of punchlines and crude-joke message boards to become the “feel good” political cover story of the New York Times.
“There’s no doubt that Reggie is cooler than I am,” Mr. Obama said, laughing, in a phone interview. “I am living vicariously through Reggie.” Mr. Love said he had been hired with “no job description whatsoever. It was just like, ‘You just go out there and — Take. Care. Of. Stuff,’” Mr. Love said, taking his time with each word.
Some of the “stuff” Mr. Love takes care of: When Mr. Obama makes calls to woo superdelegates, Mr. Love is at his side with a briefing book, dialing the numbers. When an outdoor speech ended on a windy day in Noblesville, Ind., he appeared behind Mr. Obama as he shook hands on the rope line. “Jacket?” he asked, a coat draped at the ready over his arm.

Mr. Obama often mentions that Mr. Love was a wide receiver on a football scholarship at Duke who also walked onto the basketball team. At a rally a few weeks ago in Mr. Love’s hometown, Charlotte, N.C., the candidate led the crowd in a chant of “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!”

Now with the Democrats coronating Obama, media outlets from ESPN to the major news networks to the papers back home in North Carolina all want to do feature articles on Barack’s “Body Man.”

Sure, the laughs (and a couple other items) were on him for awhile, but it looks to me like Reggie got the last laugh on all of us. Obama found an assistant who knows more than pretty much anybody his age about damage control and triumphing above shameful adversity. Besides, you probably couldn’t find a better person than Reggie to keep watch for B.O. I mean, seriously, who better to keep an eye out for a dude’s n*tsack? You know, in case Jesse Jackson comes calling?

Facializer #7: Kevin Johnson

Ah, yes, KJ. Come November, that might be Mayor KJ to you.

Back in the day, though, the diminutive point guard used big men as his personal platform. As Cleveland Cavalier super-sub John “Hot Rod” Williams could attest.

“I’m Kevin Johnson’s Jockstrap and I APPROVE This Message.” (Paid for by Hot Rod’s Dignity!)

And hey, what’s a good stump speech without a good stump… like 7-foot-3 Mark Eaton?

Or you could ask Hakeem Olajuwon if KJ would be the kind of mayor somebody like him could “look up to.” No doubt, “The Dream” still has nightmares over this jam, surely Baron Davis' inspiration for his comparable vault above AK-47 over a decade later.

KJ has parlayed a high-flying career short-circuited by injuries and his local-boy-makes-good persona into an urban redevelopment enterprise in his hometown of Sacramento, building a community development corporation (St. HOPE) he founded two decades ago. Remember the sleepy, flood-prone cowtown chided by Chris Webber and would-be NBA free agent signees as the place where Black social life and culture go to die? Well, he may have just enough pull to become the California capital’s first Black mayor.

He has the standard mayoral candidates’ wide-ranging platform: swatting back crime rates, boosting public school quality, attracting new jobs, “A City That Works for Everyone.”

Interestingly enough, and probably to his benefit, he has demonstrated a willingness to play chicken with Las Vegas’ Maloof Brothers over their demands for a new city-financed arena for their Sacramento Kings and Monarchs, in the same year Seattle’s Sonics skipped town for the prairies of Oklahoma. Might the Kings become the Vegas Stratospheres under hometown baller KJ’s watch? Time will tell.

He snared the most votes in the June primary, topping incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo, but got less than half the votes and will compete with her in a November runoff. Slightly tougher obstacles to climb than Hot Rod Williams are the politically-driven assaults, including three active sexual assault allegations (one closed-case from Phoenix back in 1995 is getting requests to be reopened at the behest of Fargo and her supporters), derelict landlord accusations, charges of anti-gay rights rhetoric, and the alleged abuse of Federal AmeriCorps money. But the centers who dared to jump with the 6-foot-1 guard will tell you, you can doubt Kevin Johnson’s abilities to overcome... but you do so at your own risk.


August 25, 2008

Celebrity Posters I: CHRIS BROWN Gets Dunked On

If R&B superstar Chris Brown loves two things, it's dancing... and streetball hoops. He mixes the two together at celebrity events all the time. If you ask him, he'll tell you he thinks he's a superstar at both. And truth be told, he's at least half-right.

Here he his clowning Little... oh, excuse me, "Bow Wow" at the All-Star celebrity game. Bow Wow is about his level, streetball-wise.

He has a harder time handling high-caliber comp. Here he gets schooled by Hot Sauce and the AND1 team, although he gets to shine for a moment or two.

This summer, though, the rightful heir to the "King of Pop" label wound up on somebody's poster, just not in the way he'd planned.

At a high-profile Streetball matchup in NYC (a daily run called the "Dog Show"), he gets caught on tape, making the crucial streetball error of lazily laying the ball off the glass and gets his sh*t swatted off the boards. Later, he makes the fundamental streetball mistake of jumping to play Help Defense, right under the rim. Against some dude nicknamed Tarzan, who left the megastar looking like Jane for trying to run up late to swat his wind-up tomahawk jam. As usual, the game stops, pandemonium ensues...

Chris, stick to dancing, Cuz, stick to dancing!
(He gets Da Bizness about 1:45 minutes in)


August 5, 2008

Team USA: Now THAT'S the Olympic Spirit!

Ah yes, the Olympics are here! It’s that time every four years when people set aside their antagonisms, resentments, aggravations, and embrace the spirit of international camaraderie, friendship, mutual understanding, respect, diplomacy, courtesy, fair play, and... ummm…

Oh, to heck with all that crap. Time for The Dream Team to open up a can on some third world nation! Look out, Angola, Team USA is back… and this time, they’re p*ssed off!
We all know about THE greatest play in Team USA hoops history. If you've gotten this far, it needs NO introduction…
But what are some of the other great bang-ons in international comp? We’ll post a few here at Nasteedunx, but find some more links and we’ll add ‘em here. Doesn’t have to be Olympic games, but it oughta be FIBA, Pan-Asian, Goodwill Games, or any other tourney where one nation gets to lay the proverbial smackdown on another.

First here’s a photo gallery of slams where Team USA members got to experience the Thrill of Victory… and where opponents endured the Agony of De-Feet in De-Face…

And here’s a sample of international-style gold-medal throwdowns caught on tape the past few years. Somebody call the Red Cross!

Andres Nocioni (Argentina) on KG and Duncan (USA) (FIBA 2002)
(SLAM Magazine: “En su cara!”)

Anderson Varejao (Brazil) ON Jermaine O’Neal (USA) (FIBA 2003)

D-Wade (USA) ON Primo Brezec (Slovenia) (Athens 2004)

Sean Marks (New Zealand) on Yao Ming (China) (Athens 2004)

Melo (USA) on Argentina (FIBA 2006)


Where Are They Now? Part VI (2006, updated 2008)

Victim #6 -- Gheorghe Muresan

I'll be honest, the jams over Muresan weren't all that memorable for a cat who's 7-foot-7. Sure Jordan got 'em a couple of times, and C-Webb did him once like he still does Tyra today. But he's kinda like Manute, he got dunked "past" and "around" more often than "on" or "over".But the NBA's Most Improved Player in '95-'96 never became a mainstay in the league, catching an injury bug in his knees that wrecked whatever little hopz he had left. He tried a little Hollywood action, but the cries for a sequel to "My Giant" fell on deaf ears somehow. The Romanian (uh, never mind, I can't think of something cool that rhymes with Romanian. Alwaysinthewaynian?) went back to Europe but got dunked on too much even over there (just ask Nate Huffman).

So now he's working the MCI Center in DC, gettin paid to hobnob with the K Street bigwigs in the Wizards' corporate suites. I kid you not; see the WashPost article. I can hear Jack Abaramoff now: "I'mtelling you, Senator, you get that Defense Pork bill passed and Gheorghe Mursean will stop by your suite at halftime... sure, you and your colleagues can get a picture dunking on him, it's not like he isn't used to that!"Plus he's opened a Giant Basketball Academy in Maryland. Again, I sh*t you not! Let's listen in: "Kids, camp counselor Ronnie Fields and I will demonstrate why you do NOT take a charge when you're 7-7 and standingdirectly under the basket!"
Jordan on My Giant, I think MJ made Billy Crystal cry:
YouTube Bonus: Gheorghe Muresan, DANCING MACHINE!

YouTube Bonus II: Anything Jordan can do, Gheorghe can do better. Acting, Dancing, Cologne Modeling. Yes, Cologne Modeling. Ah... the ODEUR!

(2008 Update: So when is Gheorghe relegated to power forward? When he’s part of what was billed by the Maryland Nighthawks (then with the ABA) as the tallest team in “pro” basketball history, pairing up in the paint with 7-foot-9 Sun Ming Ming of China for one night only. The wings were seven foot tall, and the point was run by some 6-foot-8 dude. This Dream Team won… by four points... at the buzzer. Gheorghe’s Giant Basketball Academy campers continue to get counseling assistance from the likes of Nighthawks star and momentary streetball legend Randy “White Chocolate” Gill)


Facializer #6 -- Shawn Kemp

Nobody, and I mean nobody, wanted to be caught milling around in the paint when the Reign Man soared to the bucket. Everybody remembers the Lister Blister and the Rodman Squat, but do a search on Google for a "Shawn Kemp Mix", and you'll see how often he flat terrorized opponents, using his lean athletic body to create some powerful, innovative, and at times degrading dunks. When he and Gary Payton carried the Sonics into the Finals and put up a fight against the MJ, Pip, Rodman and the Bulls, Kemp had made himself into the Sultan of Seatown.

But Chinua Achebe was correct in warning, "Things Fall Apart." He split for Cavalier Country (remember those silly uniforms??) after Seattle couldn't pay anything close to The Glove's salary. It wasn't long after he left for Cleveland, sadly, when he learned that Domino's Delivers. Reign Man became the Michelin Man suddenly.

And it didn't help matters when Sports Illustrated revealed he had more kids then Father Flanigan, something like seven kids by six chicks. By the time he got to Orlando, the new Biggie Smalls (I don't think he likes it when ya call him "Big Poppa") looked like a prop from a Jurassic Park movie. And balled like one, too.

But don't look now. Shawn is running, in Houston, slimming down, and has his sights on a return to The League. Stop snickering! Really, he is! Don’t Call it a Comeback! Like Van Gundy and the Rockets couldn't use a little help these days. At the very least he can be a walking lesson for T-Mac on what NOT to do with your career. Wear yo Jimmy-hat, Tracy! Who's Yo Baby Daddy??
Shawn Kemp Mix on YouTube: Those Were the Days!

More Kemp comeback fodder, from around January 2006. See you thought I was kidding? Hey the brutha's got child support payments to make, so don't hate! ;)
(2008 Update: Shawn’s still globetrotting for dollars, floating from Korea to Italy, but meanwhile he’s gotten so up in age that the onre of many children he begat illegitimately, Shawn Kemp, Jr., is now a blue-chip college prospect. He went into rehab to shake off a coke problem but still appears to love the ganja.)


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