As the All-Star break fast approaches, we’ve reached that wonderful moment of the year when I break down and write an NBA column.
Really, it’s a minor miracle that I managed to wait this long, given the sheer craziness of this lockout-shortened season and the fact that there are multiple games on literally every night (much to the chagrin of my GPA, and productivity in general). Already, we’ve seen Jeremy Lin emerge as the unlikeliest savior of the Knicks in, well, ever. Kobe Bryant has begun in earnest to treat every forced shot like it’s some sort of elixir that will keep his prolific career alive, and roughly 150 players have gone down with some sort of grievous injury.
But we’re not here to discuss the hot-button story lines, who should be starting in the All-Star game or whether Carmelo Anthony can be considered a truly elite player on a championship level team (for the record, no). That’s for the serious analysts who get paid to watch basketball and make me jealous on a daily basis.
Today, in honor of the always-underwhelming Grammy Awards that took place Sunday, we’re going to give out a few quirky awards to the players who make the NBA so reliably excellent (and often hilarious). Without further ado:
Funniest Sequence: Javale McGee sprinting back on defense … while his team was still on offense
Of course. Of course it was Javale McGee who missed a wild, running hook shot, toppled into the stands, and then proceeded to sprint back on defense while the Wizards still had the ball. Point guard/prisoner of war John Wall’s reaction was particularly priceless — he just stood with the ball at the top of the key, shaking his head as he reconciled the fact that he’s stuck in NBA purgatory. That McGee would return to the correct side of the floor and promptly whiff on an alley-oop attempt (and fall again) only served to punctuate this wonderfully delightful sequence. I hope the NBA brings back the “Where Amazing Happens” advertising campaign and leads it off with this.
Best Dunk: Blake Griffin over Kendrick Perkins
Within the span of maybe 20 minutes, Griffin’s full scale demolition of Kendrick Perkins went from “properly rated” to “overrated” and then, somehow, “underrated.” First there was the initial shock and awe that filled everyone’s Twitter timeline to the brink. Within minutes, there were the claims (one of which coming from myself) that it may have been the best in-game dunk of all time. Finally, after much deconstruction and thousands of YouTube searches, people began to tear into the dunk’s 20-minute legacy. “He didn’t really dunk it,” they said. Legendary dunks of yore were brought up, and the most frequent comparison was to Vince Carter’s infamous slam over France’s 7-foot-2 Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics:
“Nothing can top that,” they said.
I’m not so sure. Personally, I’m partial to dunks over guys who, you know, actually try to play defense. It makes the impact feel that much more powerful, like a shockwave that reverberates through every corner of the arena. Frederic Weis just basically ducked when Vince dunked on him, hoping against hope that he might draw a charge. How can the best dunk of all time be against someone who barely tried? If we’re going to argue about Carter dunks, he has plenty of others that are much more impressive — and against NBA-level talent.
Arguing about all of this is silly, really, but that’s part of what makes basketball so fun. Blake Griffin’s dunk wasn’t the best of all time, but it outweighs Carter-over-Weis and you won’t convince me otherwise.
“I don’t even know what the f*ck is going on. What the f*ck is going on? Who is this kid? I’ve heard about him and stuff like that, but what has he been doing? Is he getting like triple-doubles or some sh*t? He’s averaging 28 and eight? No sh*t.” — Kobe Bryant on Jeremy Lin
Keep in mind, here, that Kobe Bryant went on this expletive-laden rant with a full set of microphones in front of his face. This is one of the best and most marketable players in the NBA and he’s throwing out F-bombs in front of reporters. I’m no Kobe fan, but that’s kind of awesome. If I’m ever an NBA reporter, I’ll always be sad that I missed talking to Kobe Bean. Although knowing him, he might play until he’s 50 on bionic knees. Maybe there’s still hope.
The Michael Jordan Memorial Worst-Dressed Award: Zach Randolph
I was tempted to go with Dwight Howard, if only because of his affinity for Ed Hardy shirts and horrific sweaters. There was also Jason Terry, who seems to be trapped in 1997 with his incredibly baggy suits. You could even throw Marc Gasol in there, as he once robbed a meth head and wore his sweatshirt to a postgame presser in the playoffs.
But Zach Randolph takes the cake, mostly because he dresses like he never left eighth grade. He’s hurt right now, but should be back in time for the playoffs to treat us to more XXL polo shirts and unbuttoned plaids.
Where amazing happens, indeed.