I was scrolling mindlessly through ESPN.com the other day when I saw, in the “Have You Seen?” box at the center of the page, the infamous Allen Iverson “practice?” video was being celebrated for its momentous tenth anniversary.
A year ago, I probably would have clicked on it, just for old time’s sake. It remains, to this day, one of the best press conferences of all time. And yet for all its brilliance, I also felt strangely repulsed by the video — somehow, in this moment, it took on the form of the last slice of pizza that looks positively repulsive an hour after you’ve stuffed yourself. I felt physically repelled from clicking the link.
The funny thing is, none of this has anything to do with the video itself. Allen Iverson is still hilarious, and his relative disappearance from the public eye remains saddening to most basketball fans (including myself). You see, what actually kept me from watching the “practice” rant one more time was everything but the content of the video itself. That is to say, it’s become such a staple of sports popular culture that, like bacon (yeah, I said it) or the song “Hey Ya,” we’ve managed to ruin it by sheer [email protected]@agree to [email protected]@
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people — mostly of white pigment — recite the Iverson diatribe verbatim, applying it to some situation in their own life (yes, I’m one of those people). They muster their best (read: horrible) impression of Iverson’s Hampton, Va., twang and scream, “PRACTICE? WE TALKIN’ ABOUT … PRACTICE??”
And then, on cue, everyone erupts in laughter like it’s the most original sketch since Saturday Night Live’s glory days.
Enough. I can’t take it anymore, and that’s why I didn’t click on that ESPN link. In what has to be the first of many side effects of this Information Era, we’ve managed to “meme” Allen Iverson into oblivion. Congratulations, everyone.
And to be clear, Iverson is far from alone. It’s so easy these days to overuse popular references that within even a week, a brilliant moment can be sanded into sawdust. I used to love the HBO show “The Wire,” for example, until people began to reference it in connection to everything from basketball games to political power struggles. Look at anything Fox Sports’ Jason [email protected]@http://msn.foxsports.com/writer/Jason_Whitlock@@ writes (on second thought, don’t), and I guarantee you’ll find a Wire reference somewhere in the column. The show still has a special place in my heart, but now any time someone brings it up, my first reaction is to bury my head in my hands. @@http://msn.foxsports.com/writer/Jason_Whitlock@@
Among the other great things we’ve managed to ruin:
An obvious pick, but seriously, it feels like people talk about everything but LeBron’s actual game anymore. His crunch time prowess, his personal life, how he travels to games, his hairline — it all amounts to an endless stream of nothingness, dissecting things that never needed to be picked apart in the first place. Maybe we should stop worrying about whether he’s the next Michael Jordan, or how spoiled he can be, and just enjoy watching him play basketball. Not everything he does has some profound meaning; in fact, almost none of it does. At times it feels like people want to project everything about life on LeBron James — injustice, personal failure, greed, receding hairlines — rather than just sitting back and watching him gallop across the open court for a dunk. Because really, that’s all he’s doing. Everything else is conjecture. @@http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22748484/34618996@@
Jose Canseco’s Twitter:
Actually, this isn’t a “great” thing at all, and if the constant retweeting of Canseco’s account has ruined anything, it’s my general sanity. First of all, if I wanted to see his inane splatters of thought, I’d follow him myself. Mainly, though, it seems a bit seedy to celebrate the ignorance of a man who is pretty clearly suffering psychological turmoil. Plus, even if it was funny once upon a time, the joke gets pretty old. @@http://deadspin.com/372409/chasing-jose-by-pat-jordan@@
This is a new one, but lately everyone’s been wondering how the Tupac hologram technology could be used in other realms of entertainment, and … wait, what’s that? I wrote about that two weeks ago?
I’ll go back to my corner now.