November 7, 2008

Fright Night Part I: Look Out… Behind You!

It’s fitting that hoops season kicks off around the week of Halloween.  At the same time ballers are getting back in peak condition to routinely soar above the rim, the rest of the free world is making their best efforts to get a good hearty scare out of people.  All the blood-bath, hardware-power-tool date flicks come out.  Fake blood and spider webs and green goo are everywhere.And parents dress up their kids to look like some washed-up-president or a werewolf or a space alien.  Over the years the NBA missed out on an opportunity to capitalize on some of the hardest-on-the-eyes players’ faces by making Halloween masks that would scare the flower pattern right off Granmama’s mou-mou.  They could’ve made a killing off of costumes featuring the ghoulish muggs of Sam Cassell, Paul Mokeski, and Tyrone Hill.

Now come Halloween time, Richard Jefferson needs nobody’s help when it comes to dressing up to look like an extra-terrestrial.  The bulby forehead and extended ears create a brutha who looks like he desperately needs to Phone Home.  That “oww-you’re-pinching-my-nose” voice doesn’t help his cause either.  But you’d best not be fooled by his otherworldly countenance and persona.  Just ‘cause RJ channels “The Great Gazoo” from the Flintstones doesn’t mean he won’t make you take him to your leader once he gets on the hardwood.  He’s made a career out of making opponents in the paint look foolish, even downright frightened, when he catches dunks on ‘em.  Here’s a couple where Jefferson produces some Close Encounters of the Filthy Kind (hey, why does a brutha always get victimized first in these things? It's a conspiracy, I swear)…

Tyrus Thomas would eventually slay the posterizing beast when he spiked one over RJ… OR DID HE????

Little did he know he created a Headless Horseman.  Or is it the Great Pumpkin? 

Tyrus couldn’t get to the League in time to save one Kevin “Whachootalkinbout??” Willis.  RJ’s windmill dunk over Willis’ shoulder in the 2003 Finals generated a lasting image of this past-his-prime-time player that’s perfectly suited for Depends undergarments ads.  As the tomahawk-wielding Jefferson springs out of seemingly nowhere , just witness the abject terror on Kevin’s face the moment he KNOWS what’s about to transpire over his head.  “It’s an Alien Invasion!  AHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Willis’ classic reaction to RJ’s monster mash was the inspiration for a series of dunks-on-defenders that focus on the reactions that make poster-worthy dunk victims, well, victims.  A “Night Gallery,” if you will (anybody remember that show? Dang, I feel old!)

This first installment of Nasteedunx Fright Night focuses on the situation when some unfortunate crab gets dunked on from behind.  These in particular create the oddest variety of momentary crap-inducing reactions from unsuspecting defenders, perfectly captured on camera for our collective humor.  You get the full gamut, from wide-eyed gasps, to cowering cringes, to spooked-out dudes scrambling desperately to just get outta the picture.

So, in honor of Halloween, here are some of the best examples of tricks gettin’ rudely treated…

You’d think teammates could be a little more helpful in communicating, especially when they get beat badly off the dribble and their dude they were fronting zips past them to the rack. Their freed opponent is either bringing the ball with him or flying in for the tip slam… heading right for another would-be defender with his back turned and eye off the play.  Instead, you get dialogue probably resembling a bad John Carpenter script:

BROKEN-ANKLED DEFENDER: Jethro!  Look out, behind you!

POSTER-BOY-IN-THE-MAKING: What?  I can’t hear you, Elroy!  Can’t you see I’m busy staring up at the rim waiting for the cherry-pick rebound? Gee, I wonder why I’m isolated down here by myself?


VICTIM-IN-WAITINGEvery now and then I get a little bit tired…

B.A.D.: No! Turn your dumb a$ around! He’s coming right at you!  Above you!

ABOUT-TO-GET-PUNKED:  What? Who? Where?


HUMILIATION-PERSONIFIED (eyes big as saucers, then squints, squirms, screams): Oh … AHHHHHHHHH!

B.A.D. (shakes his head in shame)

POSTER-BOY (rubs the back of his dome): Oww, man… Dawg, why ain’t you warn me?

B.A.D.: Oh, never mind.  My B.A.D.  Check ball.

Here are some Dishonorable-Mention snapshots.  Just when you thought it was safe not to box out…


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