Let me give you a completely ridiculous, totally implausible scenario.
While you’re sitting in line at the DMV, or in some other scenario with a fairly representative cross-section of society, aliens abduct you and everyone else in the room/mall/town/whatever. The aliens have been watching the NBA playoffs, and they are now totally infatuated with basketball, but they can’t play because they’re gaseous, or they have no hands, or something sufficiently debilitating. So they take all these random humans (since they don’t know how to evaluate talent for this kind of thing, they just know to find humans), and they whisk them off to this faraway space arena, and they set up a tournament. Let’s say they abducted 1,000 random people, so they form a hundred teams of ten, completely randomly, and they give you cool uniforms and set up a schedule and all that. Your motivation is this; if you lose before, say, the third round, they eat you, or launch you into space, or if you’re turned off by the morbidity (and randomness) of that, assume that you just end up living relatively crappy life as a human refugee who’s viewed as not good at the one thing humans are known for being good at. In short, it’d be really, really good for you to get past the third round. There’s no prep time. One minute, you’re looking for a Cinnabon, and the next, you’re in the arena, getting ready to play your first game. It’s single elimination. You’ve never spoken to any of your teammates, who are totally random people (let’s say Americans, just to keep it somewhat simplified) of wildly different ages, physical makeups, and backgrounds.
I wonder how I, and other people I know, would fit into this scenario. I mean, I spent a lot of time playing in basketball games where I’m average, or slightly below average, but at the same time, I spend a lot of time playing in basketball games. I’m 29 years old, just under six feet, 175 pounds, and I can jump pretty high — don’t all those things put me at a distinct advantage against my typical opponent/teammate? Sure, there are lots of people — total — who are better than I am despite being older, or fatter, or out of shape, but out of the entire world population? The odds can’t be that high. Look around you right now; are you the best basketball player in the room right now? Top three? Top five? I think it’s very likely I’m the best basketball player in my entire office. That’s simultaneously saying a lot, and not saying very much at all at the same time, which I suppose is really the point of this whole exercise.
We spend a lot of time being informed, through analysis, competition, or conversation, of how good we are at different things compared to the best people on Earth. That’s what we aspire to, in general. But almost none of us actually live in that aspiration-based world; we play in rec leagues, record CDs, we write witty e-mails, we try to make our spouses and kids laugh; we try to be the best looking person in the bar (okay, some of us do; I try to not be at the bar, but I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible here). We THINK we have a good sense of where we are in this giant life pyramid, from things like high school — but despite the cliche, life is really almost nothing like high school (or any other school). How many of the people who were good at basketball in, say, 6th grade, still play basketball? How many kids who were great writers became engineers, or discovered World of Warcraft, or beer, or just got bored with it, and watched their skills erode? Is anyone still good at “Magic : The Gathering”?
And then, take that weathered, diffused bunch of students, and throw them into a pot with the other generations of people who are still around, or just now entering the real world. Where does everyone stack up now?
You don’t have to do this with basketball, obviously, or even something you’re relatively good at. What if the aliens liked soccer? I’d still have some advantages — big ones, even — over the elderly, and the especially unathletic. I probably know more about soccer from video games than, say, the average mom. I have, technically, played soccer against other people, even people who were pretty good (I didn’t say it went well). When my team assembled, would the crappy people look at me hopefully, expecting me to be “good” at soccer? Is it possible, or even likely, that a team composed this way would be so bad, that I might still be the best player on our team? What would that experience even be like? What if it was a giant Halo tournament? Or some competitive version of a random craft activity, like weaving? My Mom would end up getting all these endorsements, and I’d be like Mark Madsen, running out and high fiving her during timeouts, hoping I’m never actually called on do anything important.
The possibilities are endless. So keep practicing whatever it is you do — just in case the aliens come.
Peyton Manning is obviously a quasi-nemesis to me as a Patriots fan, but that doesn’t mean I can’t salute the guy for embracing his dorkhood and channeling it into things that amuse me.
Fine work, gentlemen. As funny as this commercial is on its own (it’d probably be enjoyable even if the Mannings weren’t famous football players; they’re doofy-looking enough on their own to make the joke work), I don’t know what to say about poor, poor Eli. I know almost nothing about the guy — maybe he’s hilarious and clever — but he certainly doesn’t seem that way. In fact, whereas Peyton’s usually funny due to his self-awareness (he looks amused during the whole thing), Eli almost appears to be taking this seriously.
Maybe it’s because he’s an inexplicably dedicated actor, and he’s simply that emotionally committed to this patently absurd role. Or, more likely, he’s the real-life athletic equivalent of Derek Zoolander, and he’s basically modeling “Derelique” at this point… which would make sense, because I’m pretty sure I sounded like a defeated Mugatu after the younger Manning won the Super Bowl in 2007.
“ELI MANNING IS NOT A GOOD QUARTERBACK!!! HE HAD AN UNBELIEVABLE PASS RUSH FOR ONE SEASON AND HE GOT INCREDIBLY LUCKY ON THREE CRITICAL PLAYS!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS???”
… if an NBA player joined your rec league.
To be fair, Kevin Durant isn’t some random NBA player — he’s one of the very best. But still, look how tiny and slow everything looks when he makes his move. It’s like he’s playing SlamBall, but he’s the only guy who gets to use the trampoline.
is might be coming to the U.S., to play for the Timberwolves. He’s 20, makes cool flashy passes, and plays in Spain — I think just from basketball stereotypes, that’s probably enough for you to guess what he sucks at. But think again!
“He’s gotten bigger and he plays outstanding defense, and because he’s a pass-first guard he’s going to be liked by everybody who plays with him,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said last year.
Ten bucks says Rubio plays really crappy defense.
LeBron isn’t making rooting against him any less fun:
Left threadbare, all James could do was deploy his defense mechanisms.
“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before,” James said. “They have the same personal problems they had to today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.”
Yes, James could leave in his Bentley or Rolls Royce or Maybach or whatever vehicle he chose to drive. He could, indeed, go home to his mansion where his personal chef might have a five-star meal waiting. Then off to his plush bed with 1,500-thread-count sheets. In a few days, it’ll be off on a private jet for a needed vacation.
The vast majority of those who toasted his defeat will wake up and go to work on Monday morning.
OUCH, LEBRON, YOU GOT ME. I HAVE A JOB. Seriously, those are our options? Idolize him, or…” f*** you, you’re poor”. Who is giving this man PR cues, Charlie Sheen?
Anyways, biggest surprise to me about Miami this season; it doesn’t appear that LeBron is interested, or knows how, to get any better than he already is. It’s why he still has no post game, still has an inconsistent — dare I say Sullivan-esque – jump shot, and expects his teammates to carry him to a world of photo-ops and championship parades. For all of Kobe Bryant’s faults as a basketball player and a teammate, (and there are many) no one will ever look back at his accomplishments, or his famous defeats, and wonder how good he could have been if he had really wanted it.
I know LeBron is only 26, but really, the guy randomly turns into Lamar Odom 2.0 at this point, even in the biggest moments. I’m not convinced that’s something you grow out of when you turn 27. Maybe Wade can beat it into his head this summer during the lockout, before he (Wade, I mean) hits 30 and completely falls apart physically.
I like Dan LeBetard, but if Simmons’ gets called out for homerism, LeBetard should be put on display in the town square.
The questions? The doubt? Those won’t be going anywhere for the moment. It happened in a split second, what may or may not have been an offensive foul, happened in less time than it took you to get this far in this sentence. So fickle, this game. So cruel. So fun. Unless you are at the epicenter of it – feeling all alone with your talent, which is substantive, but also with your burden, which is just as large.
That was definitely an offensive foul, but thanks for the faux-uncertainty.
Against Boston and Chicago, James and his friends could take the point guard away and short-circuit the entire offense. But Miami has been a step late as a more-versatile Dallas calmly swings the ball around the perimeter.
I know, right? I mean, whose arm should they break? So many tough coaching decisions.
Honestly, I’m surprised just how badly I’m rooting for Dallas in this series. Every nice pass the Heat make, or amazing Wade block, just seems to be countered by yet another stupid flop (J.J. Barea does this constantly too, but he’s three feet tall and about 10% as good as Wade), referee bitch-out without consequences, or something douchey and villainous like this. So no, there would be absolutely nothing redeeming in my mind about this glorified AAU team hoisting the trophy. It’s not helping that Dallas is coming across as extremely likable — did you see the halftime bit on Tyson Chandler? Guy spent half his life growing up on a farm and the other half in Compton. No wonder he’s so cool.
UPDATE : Tommy Craggs from Deadspin on what’ll happen if I get what I want :
“It’s going to be awful. We’re going to turn LeBron into a national sermon on the wages of narcissism. We’re going to edit these finals into a highlight reel of Humility dunking all over Ego. We’re going to be a country of Joe Liebermans, all freaking summer long. If there is a reason to root against the Mavs, this is it.”
This is 100% true, and extremely unfortunate. However, the reaction is going to be completely ridiculous and insufferable either way — that was guaranteed as soon as Miami made the Finals (thanks, Chicago). If they win, we’ll have to be lectured about what champions the Heat are, how much “adversity” they overcame, and how James and Wade “finally learned to co-exist for the good of the team”. This is going to get over-analyzed and over-moralized no matter which of the two outcomes occurs, except in one of them, these two high visibility d-bags don’t get their crappiest tendencies legitimized.
(… and yes, I understand that Jason Kidd beating his wife is 1,000 times worse than overstating your relevance to the game of basketball, but Kidd getting a trophy isn’t a threat to justify domestic abuse in our minds. But if LeBron wins the next two games, he could go 0-for-35 and we’d still be subjected to tales of his newfound “heart” for years to come, regardless of how ridiculous they are.)
Not that I’m totally paying attention to baseball yet, but I did notice :
Ortiz said he did not flip his bat Wednesday so he could avoid being on the “national news.”
“I don’t want to have you guys asking me the same questions. I got almost 370 bombs in the big leagues and everybody wants to make a big deal because I bat-flip one of them. (Expletive) that (expletive), man. If I have to make that video on my (expletive), let’s see how many bat flips I got on this (expletive). Good night.”
That’s right, David Ortiz is awesome again. I like the guy a lot, so this makes me happy. Yes, he’s probably on whatever rejuvenation drug/supplement/pilates routine/etc. that everyone else who looks old and done and miraculously comes back is on, but since this is baseball, I’m willing to simply ignore it and put on Red Sox tinted glasses. Papi is cool, Papi is hitting home runs, good for him.
The only sad thing here is how Ortiz has — naturally, and understandably — become so jaded with the mean-spirited, completely un-fun Boston (and national) sports media. But note that it’s just crappy quote-hunting reporters who get the nasty version of Ortiz — he’s still a happy dude.
I always felt it worthwhile to hold onto Ortiz through what seemed very likely to be the new normal of .260 batting averages and 25 home run seasons, simply out of a sense of — admittedly irrational — gratitude for his history of postseason heroics and generally lovable nature. I stand by that argument, but fortunately, that’s not a decision that has to be made at this point, because the guy is belting home runs and batting well over .300 during the part of the season he usually sucks.
Anyways, wake me up in late July.
Ron-ron has spoken:
“You wouldn’t want to be the guy who messed up sports.”
Of course, you probably don’t want to be the guy who’s best known for the time he ran into the stands during a game and started punching people, either.
Speaking of commercials, here’s a good one.
I can’t pretend to care about hockey — even Boston hockey — but I understand the fan base, and I think this is a great way to go. It’s an ad that focuses on serious hockey fans, but that seriousness is something that a serious fan of any sport is going to understand. It takes that “real fans” positive vibe, and then assigns it to hockey. No, it doesn’t cater to soccer moms or any huge demographic like that, but that’s not likely to work anyways, and might even annoy your core audience. This one, though, is just straight up funny.
The stony, expressionless face of the bear helps, too. If this were a person, he’d probably seem like a jerk for throwing the guy through a window, but a bear? That just seems like justice.
Remember that D-Wade karmic correction I said was coming?
This is, of course, not nearly enough, primarily because Wade still has four functioning limbs. But it’s a start. By the way, Reggie sounds like kind of a jerk for saying “you expect this, but NOT FROM TAJ GIBSON”. You know what? I’m not a Bulls fan (at all), but Taj Gibson is a perfectly serviceable NBA player — and he just rammed a basketball into your boy Wade’s cake-hole. Show the man some respect.