Archive for the ‘Fakin Da Funk’ Category

(The proceeding file has been uncovered for the benefit of the public at-large by “Wickedleaks”):


 To: Swat LeRock, Chief, U.S. OFFICE OF RIMLAND SECURITY; Classified Recipients (DO NOT FORWARD)

 From: Eaton Spalding, Director, Victimization Security Agency (VSA)

 Date: October 29, 2012

Re: Posterization Profiles, National Basketball Association 2012-13 Season

At the outset of every professional men’s basketball season, the VSA ascribes a high value to proactive measures identifying prime dunkbait candidates. This procedure is undertaken annually, in advance of impending threats of soul-crushing highlight plays.

Preventative actions by the VSA are intended to permit authorized NBA teammates and coaches to be vigilant in defending against probable attacks against the baskets they are purportedly responsible for defending.

Please understand that this information is held in the strictest of confidence, considering such data on these “soft targets” could prove particularly vital to opponents of ill will, and unfairly advantageous to highlight and mixtape producers, web bloggers, and the reprographic poster industry.

For convenience, we are color-coding the following “Posterization Profiles,” illustrating the relative degrees, of intensity and frequency, to which 110 individual players are in the highest and most immediate danger of victimization, at the hands of high-flying opponents eager to terrorize rims with their Weapons of Manhood Deflation (WMDs).

C O D E    R E D

(Extreme Risk: Prepare player agents for damage-control operations; Appearances on wrong sides of #SCTop10 plays likely)

 “VERTICAL LIMPS”Frontcourt players whose shots get blocked… a lot.

Description: These players are among the power forwards and centers, due to their height, which are most likely to be found at the front of the net on defense. When on offense, players who get their shots rejected are often displaying inferior vertical leap relative to their competitive peers, or inadequate timing or technique. Such players will likely incur the wrath of opponents as they wear down late in games due to overutilization.

Human Embodiments: Alton Lister, Hot Rod Williams

Top 10 Soft Targets:  Lou Amundson (Minnesota), Joel Anthony (Miami), Omer Asik (Houston), Jon Brockman (Houston), Eddy Curry (San Antonio), Jordan Hill (Los Angeles Lakers), Ryan Hollins (Los Angeles Clippers), Ivan Johnson (Atlanta), Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota), Tristan Thompson (Cleveland)

“AND-1 POSTER MAKERS”Centers with a high ratio of fouls to shot blocks

Description: Rather than jumping like the Vertical Limps, these players are more likely to try to stop the ball, or the ballplayer, on the opponent’s way to the rim. They will likely be found in posters swiping in vain at the ball as it is hurled through the hoop, or hugging/tackling/mauling the opponent in a failed attempt to keep them from reaching the basket. The inability to rely on charge calls from flopping will result in more physical collisions on dunked baskets.

Human Embodiments: Danny Schayes, Jack Sikma

Top 10 Soft Targets: Kwame Brown (Philadelphia), Reggie Evans (Brooklyn), Ian Mahinmi (Indiana), Jermaine O’Neal (Phoenix), Emeka Okafor (Washington), Kendrick Perkins (Oklahoma City), Johan Petro (Atlanta), Dexter Pittman (Miami), Jason Thompson (Sacramento), Ronny Turiaf (Los Angeles Clippers)

“WAY PAST EXPIRATION DATES”Tall, but aging fast

Description: In a league lacking height to provide some semblance of post presence, players meeting that single criteria of height will be encouraged to string out their careers on veteran contracts, even drawing some out of retirement for just one more ride. Well past their athletic peak of performance, these players are just waiting for that sign from above that it is time to hang up the jockstrap once and for all. Such signs will often, indeed, come from above.

Human Embodiments: Othella Harrington, Alonzo Mourning

Top 10 Soft Targets: Marcus Camby (New York), Jason Collins (Boston), Brian Cook (Washington), Dan Gadzuric (Philadelphia), Brendan Haywood (Charlotte), Grant Hill (Los Angeles Clippers), Jamaal Magloire (Toronto), Nazr Mohammed (Chicago), Joel Przybilla (Milwaukee), Kurt Thomas (New York)

“EURO PEONS”Foreign Rookies far too desperate to impress

Description: Their defenses seemed so much more imposing over in the Baltics. Often built in the mold of the late Dwayne Schintzius’ “Ivan Radovadovitch” character in Eddie, these players will make futile efforts at defensive stops at the rim, attempting to leave positive impressions on their North American teammates. Most tend to learn their lessons after a year or two, when the only impressions left are on their foreheads. From a pragmatic perspective, being victimized spectacularly is often the only reason the American public ever bothers to figure out what a Goran Dragic, an Ersan Ilyasova or a Timofey Mozgov is.

Human Embodiments: Gheorghe Muresan, DJ Mbenga

Top 10 Soft Targets: Victor Claver (Portland), Nando de Colo (San Antonio), Evan Fournier (Denver), Joel Freeland (Portland), Slava Kravtsov (Detroit), Donatas Motiejunas (Houston), Tornike Shengelia (Brooklyn), Alexey Shved (Minnesota), Mirza Teletovic (Brooklyn), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto)

C O D E   O R A N G E

(Severe Risk: Get ample amounts of popcorn ready in advance of any upcoming games; Prepare for extended Twitter crashes in aftermath of dunks)

“HUMAN HIGHLIGHTED FILMS”: Recent NBA Slam Dunk Contestants

Description: More of a development in recent years with taller contestants competing for and winning titles, getting prime time attention on All-Star Saturday Nights is seen as one way some athletes can make a name for themselves. For others, dunking on these same players in game action is, in turn, a way to build a rep of one’s own. Jeremy Evans (Utah) found this out the hard way during 2012 Summer League action.

Human Embodiments: Josh Smith, Dwight Howard

Top 10 Soft Targets: Chase Budinger (Minnesota), Jeremy Evans (Utah), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City), JaVale McGee (Denver), Josh Smith (Atlanta), Tyrus Thomas (Charlotte), Gerald Wallace (Brooklyn), Derrick Williams (Minnesota)

“BUSY BODIES”Notorious help defenders and/or “Energy Guys”

Description: These players have a nose for the ball, often a nose literally on the ball. Their aggressive nature usually finds them in situations the average player would find discomforting: diving for loose balls, wrestling for jump ball calls, flying out of bounds to save a possession. Getting dunked on is among the least of their reservations. If they are decent help defenders, they will pay the price on defense when a teammate’s opponent springs a leak.

Human Embodiments: Eduardo Najera, Kurt Rambis

Top 10 Soft Targets: Nick Collison (Oklahoma City), Kenneth Faried (Denver), Alonzo Gee (Cleveland), Taj Gibson (Chicago), Jared Jeffries (Portland), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte), Andrei Kirilenko (Minnesota), Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Clippers), Tayshaun Prince (Detroit), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland)

“RARELY READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS”Backup centers with foul-prone/injury-prone starters

Description: These players are usually just fine in their reserve roles… until they’re pressed into heavy-duty action at inopportune times, when players above them on the depth chart get injured or run into foul trouble.

Human Embodiments: Brian Cardinal, Brian Skinner

Top 10 Soft Targets:  Andris Biedrins (Golden State), Andray Blatche (Brooklyn), Corey Brewer (Denver), Hamed Haddadi (Memphis), Bernard James (Dallas), Enes Kanter (Utah), Timofey Mozgov (Denver), Miles Plumlee (Indiana), Larry Sanders (Milwaukee), Hasheem Thabeet (Oklahoma City)

“TAKE CHARGE ATTITUDES”Guards who eat charges for breakfast

Description: These backcourt ballers would much prefer to absorb the contact from drawing fouls at halfcourt or on the perimeter as opposing guards are bringing the ball upcourt or driving toward the lane. But often they are the last line of defense on transition baskets. And if they forget to stay in front of the semicircle beneath the basket, that last line of defense can get badly blurred.

Human Embodiments: Derek Fisher, Mark Jackson

Top 10 Soft Targets: Manu Ginobili (San Antonio), Royal Ivey (Philadelphia), Jeremy Lin (Houston), John Lucas III (Toronto), Andre Miller (Denver), Gary Neal (San Antonio), Jannero Pargo (Washington), Ronnie Price (Portland), J.J. Redick (Orlando), Kemba Walker (Charlotte)

C O D E   G R E E N

 (Moderate Risk: Administer first-aid as soon as possible to all ego bruises)


“FECKLESS FOES”Opponents in divisions full of high-profile dunkers

Description: Nestled among the league’s Top 50 dunkers are the high-flyers in the Northwest (McGee, Durant, Ibaka, Faried, Iguodala, Favors, Aldridge, Millsap, Al Jefferson, Hickson, Westbrook, Hayward) and the rim-rockers of the Southeast (LeBron James, Josh Smith, Bosh, Wade, Vesely, Mullens, Booker, Wall, Nene). Chances are good that many division opponents will be claimed as casualties in the process of getting the hoop and the harm. The odds are particularly stacked against these soft targets.

Human Embodiments: Greg Ostertag, Rony Seikaly

Top 10 Soft Targets: Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City), Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte), Glen Davis (Orlando), DeSagana Diop (Charlotte), Al Harrington (Orlando), Meyers Leonard (Portland), Kyle O’Quinn (Orlando), Greg Stiemsma (Minnesota), Anthony Tolliver (Atlanta), Nikola Vucevic (Orlando)

 “LATE-ARRIVERS TO THE POSTER PARTY”Chase-down dunk block attempters

Description: Primarily backcourt players, they are among the fastest players on the floor, the quickest to get back on defense, and the least likely to give up on a play, even as the ball is entering secured rimspace. You are likely to find these players trailing their opponents in the poster, or catching up just in time to be fully inside it.

Human Embodiments: Jaren Jackson, Dwyane Wade

Top 10 Soft Targets: Eric Bledsoe (Los Angeles Clippers), Christian Eyenga (Orlando), Danny Green (San Antonio), Gerald Green (Indiana), LeBron James (Miami), Wesley Johnson (Phoenix), Nate Robinson (Chicago), Brandon Rush (Golden State), Jeff Teague (Atlanta), Dwyane Wade (Miami), John Wall (Washington)

 “SERVING GREAT TIPPERS”Big men with subpar defensive rebounding rates

Description: Many qualifiers for this category appear in Code Red/Code Orange categories above. These players are at substantial risk of giving up scores by way of offensive putbacks, especially “tip dunks” if they and teammates fail to adequately box out.

Human Embodiments: Calvin Booth, Greg Kite

Top 10 Soft Targets: Andrea Bargnani (Toronto), Boris Diaw (San Antonio), Chuck Hayes (Sacramento), Roy Hibbert (Indiana), Robin Lopez (New Orleans), Jason Maxiell (Detroit), Darko Milicic (Boston), Byron Mullens (Charlotte),  Marreese Speights (Memphis), Tiago Splitter (San Antonio)



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.”