Archive for December, 2011

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!”

BAPTIZED: A Young Star and Future Preacher Finds Inspiration, Even in the Most Embarrassing 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.

“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.”


Victim: Jaren Jackson

(September 2005) With Spalding tattoos courtesy of KobeSpree, and countless other high-flying guards (Ron Mercer at 1:44 on this video), dude made NBA fans repeatedly scream the age-old question, “Why Jump?” Now the former New Orleans high school standout and Georgetown wing has jumped into the coaching ranks, following the footsteps of fellow Victim Alston Lister.
Jaren has landed in Indiana with the Gary Steelheads (a team apparently named after the residents who still choose to live there — just kidding!) This follows a stint with the now-defunct Philly Fusion (ABA).
(2008 Update) Jaren’s got an affinity for Hoosier State semi-pro squads with crazy names. The 2006 CBA Coach of the Year with the Steelheads, this time he’s moved over to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, returning to the town where he played in the CBA before joining the Spurs.
(2011 Update) Keeping the bizarre  team name thing alive, he’s gone north (and east) of the border the last couple years, coaching up the Mill Rats of St. John in Canada’s NBL. My favorite story of Jaren was hearing about him getting T’d up as the head coach during a 2007 CBA game with the slightly-less-whacky-named Pittsburgh Xplosion. Making Woody Hayes proud, he once ran off the bench to grab an Albany Patroons player, keeping him from yet another breakaway dunk to take the lead late in the game. The CBA player’s name? Jamario Moon.

Facializer: Robert Pack

(September 2005) Quick, who was Eurobasket’s Lithuanian League Guard of the Year, leading perennial power Zalgiris to the national League title and the Baltic League Championship? Why, none other than the Pack-Man! Robert used to pack it on NBA frontcourt players (Shawn Kemp (1:21 on this video)Shawn Bradley, Thurl Bailey, Eric Leckner) with no fear back in his heyday.

(2008 Update) Robert has since hung up his shoelaces. He made a short-lived attempt at returning to the League with the Raps in the ’05 preseason, but didn’t make the roster. In Dallas, he ran into mortgage troubles and a legal dispute over a house with the oft-injured and oft-whining Cowboy receiver Terry Glenn, who I’d better refer to as a “He” or else I might get sued too! He also is parlaying his worldly travels into on online travel agent gig, along with a bunch of ex-athletes the likes of James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Mike Alstott, and Lou Brock – I dunno if I trust a guy most famous for ‘steals’ with my money, but hey…
His comment to a fan on the 1994 Slam Dunk Contest, where he was runner-up:
“I was more of a game dunker, hoping a big guy would challenge me at the rim. The 1994 dunk contest was hard for me without the 7-footers to go after.”
YouTube: It’s Robert Pack, by a nose! Watch him stone an Estonian by throwing dem ‘bows in Baltic League ball.
(2011 Update) He’s moving up on the bench as quickly as he used to get to the rim. When it comes to player development, Pack-Man’s proving to be among the best in the business. He worked wonders with rookies Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison as an assistant with hometown New Orleans, and now the ex-USC star is doing the same with Eric Bledsoe in Clipperland. Watch out, Vinnie!

Victim: Alton Lister(2005 Update) After getting ceremoniously crammed on by Shawn “The Original Daddy” Kemp in the playoffs, Alton took his knowledge to Mesa College in ‘Zona, where he’s been coaching since 2000. His top lesson? Don’t stand under the basket, or you will get blistered!

(2008 Update) The seven-foot tall Lister snuck back in the pros to coach, currently “blistering” the likes of Josh Smith and Al Horford with his sage guidance as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks. Here’s a shot of him with fellow perennial dunk-victim Patrick Ewing at the 2008 NBA Predraft Camp. When it comes to getting posterized, do ya think they’ve got a few stories to share?)
(2011 Update) Lister decided to take his skills to the Philippines, where his brother played back in the 1980s. He was chugging along as the skills coach for the San Miguel Beermen — now the Petron Blaze Boosters, but can you imagine the perks? — and has transferred recently to the Bolts of Meralco, being replaced at Petron by Alex English… Courtesy of LamarMatic: A couple games preceding the poster-ific classic, The Reign Man had a one-piece rained atop his forehead courtesy of you-know-who. Hey, maybe that’s the original meaning behind the blister… did Kemp grow a knot up top?
Facializer: Xavier McDaniel
(2005 Update) Like Kemp, I think the rim must’ve said somethin’ mean about Xavier’s mama when he was a kid, ’cause by the time he grew up he knew damn well how to punish the rim and anything (like Sir Charles and Johnny Newman?) that got in his way.
Although X reportedly got smashed on while at Wichita State when Spud Webb (who was in the League by then) came for a visit… now that had to be a Shocker!… like Lister, X did a lil coaching, too — who better to be a SlamBall coach than the X-Man, leading the Riders to the championship! (SlamBall turned out a’ight, but everybody could tell the concept needed some work.) Anyways, post-SlamBall he’s just been going around Carolina and NBA summer camps providing tutelage on the proper way to stare down your opponent on the inbounds right after tomahawking on his head.
(2008 Update) Let it not be said that the X-Man isn’t afraid to dabble. Over a decade removed from an underwhelming Korean sneaker contract, (wow?) X has gotten a little cameo-acting bug (see YouTube below), took up house-flipping (highlight to see the text), and carried his “Grand Slam”-ming ways onto the tennis court (here he is in Wichita playing doubles with veteran Natasha Zvereva for charity).
“NBA Superstars Out of Their League, Take Two. Lights, Camera, ACTION!”
(2011 Update) Sounding recently like a man who remembers his best dunk fondly…
… he’s back in the Gamecock State, having added a janitorial service to supplement his real estate ventures. Hopefully his daughter, AAU star Xylina, isn’t out there mean-mugging kids after crossovers and layups…

What’s the filthiest facial ever thrown down in an NBA Finals game? Here’s my fave 5:

Shawn “Reign Man” Kemp ON Dennis “Rainbow Head” Rodman: Add a Streak of Brown (1996)

Julius “Dr. J” Erving OVER Michael “Hung One on Mr.” Cooper: Rock Da Baby 2 Sleep (1983)

Richard “Great Gazoo” Jefferson OVER Kevin “Whatchootalkinbout” Willis: Fright Night (2003)

Shaquille “Kazaam” O’Neal OVER Dikembe “All in Dzee House Of” Mutombo: Totally Mounted (2001)

Robert “Mr. Clutch” Horry ON Richard “Rip” Hamilton: You’ve Been Unmasked (2005)


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.


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.

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.