July 10, 2011

White Boys Can't What? VI: Trew Dat!

Once again, Derek, THIS is all YOUR fault. I hope you're proud of yourself.

All them Gold Gloves, World Series trophies and All-Star Games. Not to mention 3,000 hits, dives into the stands, chillin’ with opponents during bench-clearing brawls, miraculous playoff-saving flip throws to catchers, and copious shawties in your GQ cover-model arms… all while reppin’ America’s Team and America’s Pastime in America’s City for over a decade.

See, Derek, because of all you’ve done, Eugene “Pooh” Jeter has to spend the entirety of his professional basketball career going out of his way to make a name for himself…and on every occasion that he DOES make a name for himself, his last name gets absolutely butchered. Seriously, “Mister Yankee” sir, how can you sleep at night?

What’s that? Why, of course he goes by “Pooh!” Let’s be real, how many bruthas do you know who can comfortably roam the streets with the name “Eugene?” Exactly. Besides, Pooh is a far simpler name to remember on the court; Jerome Richardson understands this dynamic completely. And going by “Pooh” is far simpler than having to correct 98 percent of the population who mispronounces your last name because of some sweet-swinging shortstop.

When it comes to Pooh, it’s not Jeter as in “Peter.” It’s Jeter, and that rhymes with “better,” and that stands for “better move your butt out the way when Vanilla Sky comes raining down on ya.” Just ask the BallUp streetball crew...

Heck, ask his own teammates. Even they gotta grab an umbrella when the oop goes up.

Poor Pooh. His first sign that something might be amiss is anytime bruthas willingly call white dudes by a white-related nickname. “White Chocolate,” “Whyte Cloud,” “Vanilla Gorilla,” "The White Transformer," “Ivory Express,” “Caucasian Sensation,” “The Latvian MJ,” “Half ‘n Half,” "Snowstorm," “Pale Rider.”  If you run into ANY names like this, and especially any Escalade-sized opponent black teammates lovingly call “Avalanche,” by all means, stay clear of the rim!

“Vanilla Sky” comes off sounding like some bad Tom Cruise flick, or some kind of crazy-strong scented stuff you can get from the dude hawking incense and oils on the No. 2 train. But it’s one moniker Tim McGrath goes by, lest he be confused for a country singer, a red-headed Australian Rules footballer, or, maybe worse, a cousin of the dude who used to rock for Sugar Ray.

It’s not like Vanilla Sky didn’t warn anybody. Also going by “Trew” as well as “Prime Time” in the Venice Beach circles, the 6-foot-5 former San Diego State guard’s grainy exploits from his Cal State Dominguez years have been out there for awhile now, for anyone bothering to scout him.

Poor Pooh. It all seemed pretty straightforward, textbook even by NBA standards. Especially after many years toiling away in Euro Ball, the Dakota hinterlands, and the WCC, Pooh’s seen enough white cats and non-NBA scrubs to know where to spot up for the charge in the paint. Surely this guy’s no different. Is he?

 (jump to 6:20)

Poor Pooh. Here he is, just months removed from the pinnacle of his professional hoops career, nearly a decade trotting the globe since his lowly collegiate days as a Portland Pilot, after years as an NBA summer-league staple, finally getting some rookie burn with the Sacto Kings, even starting for a hot minute at the point.

Here he is, triumphantly handling the rock back in his hometown of L.A., donning that Kings purple ‘n black, getting a chance to showcase his skills at the world-famous Drew League in front of young headliners like Kevin Durant, Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Dorrell Wright, Nick Young, Shannon Brown, and Austin Daye. A chance to show the Kings why they might wanna pick up that team option for next year before the lockout kicked in. A chance to show these young’uns how them old rooks get it done!

And then here comes Vanilla Sky to rain all on his parade. Now he’s gotta feel a little less like a “Pooh,” and a lot more like “Eeyore.”

But the unkindest cut comes when the inevitable word of mouth goes around (“Some White Boy dunks all over an NBA Player… Who???”), and after spending all year trying to make a name for himself, it’s time for phonic correctness all over again.

“It’s not ‘jeet,’ it’s ‘jet.’” As in, “That poor Pooh boy better jet out the gym and go home.”

Poor Pooh.  He gets Hoopmixtaped On by a heretofore unknown (now very-well-known) white kid in a summer league game. And what could possibly be worse than getting the phrase, "He Got Pooh'ed On" bronzed for all streetball eternity? Now more than ever before, everybody other than his mama (and his world-class sister... couldn't Carmelita teach him how to run?) is pronouncing his surname like a certain pinstriped shortstop from Gotham.

Who’s to blame for all that shame? Don’t blame Vanilla Sky. I’m looking at you, Derek. Send him an autographed glove or something.


February 14, 2011

Fakin Da Funk VI: Griffin ON Mozgov -- Blake and The Fat Man

Egged on by his pudgy peer, Blake Griffin gives new meaning to the term "facial features."

November 20, 2010, 6:30 PM EST
Los Angeles, California
Staples Center, Clippers locker room

“I can’t play tonight, boss. My knee is still badly swollen.”

“That’s not all that’s badly swollen. Look at yourself, Baron!” The silver-haired man looks down in disgust at the rotund point guard, now woofing down the last morsels of his 4x4 cheeseburger. “What kind of role model are you to the young men on this team? This is not what we’re paying you to do!”

“No, you look, Donnie, my job is to heal up and get these boys winning again. Yyyyour jobs…” Baron Davis pauses to grab a pinch of his Animal Fries. “…are to keep the eyes of your nightly harem away from our 'beautiful black bodies' while we're dropping soap in the shower and, oh, to sign my paychecks. Novel concept, huh? I hear Dunleavy Sr.’s in shape, have you signed his checks yet?” As his team’s miffed owner waves him off and saunters out of the locker room in disgust, Davis offers one last parting shot. “Don’t you have some sweatshops to attend to or something? Friggin’ owners. Hey, yo, Griff, come here!”

The Clippers’ 6’10” manchild, Blake Griffin, saddles up beside his self-appointed mentor. Davis backhand slaps him in the bicep, leaving Griffin to wipe off some In-N-Out spread himself.

“I keep telling you, son, you’re supposed to be covering for me when I’m back here eating dinner. That’s you and Aminu’s main job, aside from the Krispy Kreme runs. You like old bigoted dudes running up on you and glaring while you chow down?”

“I’m not a rookie anymore,” Griffin retorts, only to hear his protest mimicked in a chiding manner by Davis. 
“Please, that’s bunk. They’re not making up a Sophomore of the Year award for you just because you were out last year! Besides, you know who’s coming after your Rookie of the Year award tonight, don’t you?”

“Umm... Landry Fields?”

“Nah,” Baron sucks through the last sip of his Neapolitan shake. “Good guess, though. That Moscow dude… Timothy or something like that. I dunno what the phrase for ‘hot sh*t’ is in Russia, but he think he that, because he was killin’ fools over there in Eurobasket. Your dude Amar’e tells me that they getting ready to put him on. Major minutes, since they know Eddy Curry ain’t gonna play, he’s so out of... never mind. Look,” Baron pokes Blake’s arm again, causing Blake to instinctively check for spread. “You need to get out there and show Moscow Man how we do!”

“Back in my DAY? To hell with you!” Davis smirks. “But thank you for bringing that up, because it brings me to my next point. I keep telling you, you need to keep getting more like me… Why you looking at me like that? I’m serious! We got parallel paths, Griff. High School All-American dunk contest champs, tore up our knees in our freshman years... we kindred spirits, right?”

“Now, I need you to go out there and be Baron Davis tonight. The Donald wants Baron Davis out there tonight, and dammit, he’s gonna get Baron Davis -- through you. Be reckless, fearless! Hot dog it a little, drop some fancy dimes tonight, don’t worry about turnovers. And if you got an open shot, take it. B-Diddy Ball!”  Davis pauses to finally employ a napkin. “Oh, and my big ‘come-up’ dunk in the NBA was actually on K.G.... ‘back in MY day.’ It’s time you go get yours.”

“You’re not talking about Amar’e, right? I was invited to his skills academy camp in college. I ain’t posterizing him.”

“Amar’e? He’s smart enough to know when to get outta the way, so you’ll be left with dudes like Gallnari at the rim. Or better yet, that Russian kid. Speaking of Russians, though, that brings up my last point. You know I’m lookin’ out for ya, right... what’s goin’ on with this?” Baron gestures his fingers in a circular motion around his face.

Griffin sighs, and facepalms. “We talking about my skin again?”

“Of course, man. You ever see a 40-year-old cat with freckles? It’s sad, man, sad. Not a good look. Seriously, you don’t wanna be that guy.”

“Okay, I know, and we talked about this. I got the lemon rinds and the sour cream thing going… anyway, where are you going with this? What’s all that got to do with Russians?”

“I was at a beach party a few weeks before The Emmy Awards, and my homeboy’s girl Jessica Alba tipped me off about this skin cream they use over in Russia. I hear it’s all the rage on Rodeo Drive. She says it makes freckles disappear.”

Griffin's eyes widen. “For real?”

“For real, for real! They got all kinds of good product over there, man, and it’s all placenta-based… No, stop making that face, it ain’t gross at all! Smoothes all that skin out. J-Lo swears by it. And they got products for men, too. They got this conditioner that totally relaxes your hair. You know how AK-47 went from looking like Sonic the Hedgehog to one of those Partridge Family girls?”

“Uh, yeah, I guess... Wow.” Characteristic of most of his conversations with his mentor, Griffin's face reflects a mix of bewilderment and skepticism.

“Listen, the stuff works, man. It would take care of all that red Brillo-pad stuff you got up there. You know what? I bet you twelve dozen Krispy Kremes that the Moscow kid is using it right now.”

“Well, I'm not gonna just run up and ask him, so…”

“You don’t have to. Just while you’re out there, when he tries to foul you, rub his head and find out. Bet you can tell. If I’m wrong, I’ll put another 20 smacks into that child obesity thing you got going.”

“Alright, deal, bruh.” Griffin heads back to his locker.

“And one last thing, Griff. I got four words for you. Chocolate. Iced. With. Sprinkles.


What? What?