I’m American – which means I like to categorize people in the most obvious and superficial ways possible. Stereotyping is patriotic.
The NBA has a few easy targets – Chris Anderson has a Mohawk, so obviously he is a bad boy. Kenyon Martin has a neck tattoo, so he’ll be bankrupt in a few years. Jimmer Fredette is a clean-cut white guy, so obviously he’s Jesus.
But even with the amount of characters in the NBA, there is a major shortage of rednecks.
When I was growing up, Utah was sporting the Toby Keith Tag-Team of Jeff Hornacek and Karl Malone. Hornacek was everything a country boy should be – 50% fundamentals, 45% pure shooting and 5% comb-over. The Mailman was hunting in the offseason and wrestling in the WCW. If you could’ve somehow added car crashes to Jazz games, they would’ve been bigger than NASCAR.
Since then, there has been a noticeable void in rednecks patrolling the courts of the NBA.
Bryant Reeves was the pudgy-framed, flat-topped Hope of the Hicks, but he flamed out. Brad Miller came along, but even rednecks have standards. Jason Williams did his part to introduce a new form of rednecks – ditching the short shorts and comb-overs for tattoos and the high and tight – but again failed to spark much interest from the double-wide community.
So maybe rather than wait for our own personal Dale Jr. to descend on the NBA, it is time to baptize one in Busch Light and Big Johnson t-shirts.
I think that guy is Zach Randolph.
In a league of ripped-out physical freaks, Zach Randolph’s body fat composition is higher than his vertical leap. He has so many arrests for marijuana he must move more crops than a Nebraska cornfield. Z-Bo’s box score actually contains his blood-alcohol content. He might be the only player who could drive to the lane and get whistled for a DUI.
Hell, his highlight reel is actually just an episode of Cops.
So maybe there hasn’t been a shortage of rednecks on the court – they’ve just been spending too much time in one to notice.
Article by Jeff
Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
The story was set up perfectly. On a warm Miami night, the Celtics charged back from being down double digits to win the game. They stepped up as a team while their best player, Paul Pierce was injured. Ray Allen carried them with a barrage of three-pointers on a turn-back-the-clock night while Rajon Rondo played his sidekick, set-up man. It was an example of flashy versus ugly. New versus old. Hip versus Jermaine O’Neal still playing in the league. It was a classic underdog story… until the twist happened and the Heat won.
That twist was Norris Cole.
This was an NBA game for M. Night Shyamalan fans. It started slow — setting the mood of the story. The Heat were crushing the Celtics early on, and it looked like it would be a blowout. It looked like it would be the world’s most boring game — an NBA All-Star game where only one team actually brought the All-Stars. But that slow start was merely setting us up for the payoff later.
The Celtics came roaring back in the third quarter, leading the viewers to believe the classic come-from-behind plot was happening. Nothing is more exciting than a come-from-behind victory – especially when combined with “the-old-guy’s-still-got-it” plot (Ray Allen) and “the-step-it-up-while-our-best-player-is-injured” plot (Ray Allen/Rajon Rondo). The viewers even got a taste of Keyon Dooling becoming an underdog spark off the bench.
When the fourth quarter started, I thought I was sure how the game would end — with a Ray Allen buzzer-beater three-pointer barely winning the game. Instead, the game took an odd turn. Norris Cole took over the game. I never saw it coming. It was this game’s “BRUCE WILLIS IS ACTUALLY DEAD!?!?!?” moment. It was the perfect plot for this game.
If Lebron James or Dwayne Wade had taken over in the fourth quarter, this game would have been half as interesting. That plot has been so played out, it has become the standard romantic comedy-type plot of the NBA (you know, boy meets girl, they fall in love, something weird happens, and then they come back together by the end… with a Dwayne Wade dunk? I lost my grip on this metaphor). There is no catch to that plot. Nothing makes it all that special. So we got Norris Cole instead.
The Miami Heat are the least underdog team in the NBA. Everyone expects them to win, and if they do not, it is kind of a surprise. They are completely unlikeable as a team. That is what makes Norris Cole’s fourth quarter performance in this game so special. That took this game from “pretty good” to “pretty great.” Norris Cole was the biggest underdog on either team, and he won the game for the Heat.
I doubt I would watch this game again. It started off slow, and it relies heavily on a twist ending. However, I would definitely recommend watching this game to anyone who has never seen it before and does not know how it ends. It is a great one-time-watch, but definitely not an instant classic by any stretch of the imagination.
The league and its owners want to protect the small market teams, but despite taking their time to renew the collective bargaining agreement, no significant moves were made to resolve this.
Why? Simple: Stars always go to where they can shine brightest.
My solution? Equally simple: Only allow teams to draft players from the city or region that they represent.
Let’s break this down into two parts—why? And how?
People generally take great pride in where they’re from. Part of this pride is the local sports team. But imagine how much deeper that pride would run if the entire team were local. Imagine how much harder the players would play and how much louder the fans would cheer.
I’ll never forget Paul Pierce being received by an ovation of boos at the 2008 Espy Awards held in LA. He tried to defend himself, exclaiming he was from Inglewood, but to those Laker fans, the moment Pierce put on that green uniform, he was no longer from their city.
Then let’s consider LeBron before Miami. The hometown kid. Not only did everyone in the state love him, everyone in the world loved him. Sure, most of that was because he is one of the most exciting players ever to step on the court, but part of it had to be because he was a kid representing his hometown in battle.
With regard to small market teams, keeping salary caps in check will only do so much. The most effective way to stay relevant in the league would be to continue cultivating talented ball players within your region. You’re only as good as your neighbors, and the same goes for all other teams, regardless of their pocketbooks.
First off, regions that have two teams would have to send one somewhere else. So either the Clippers or Lakers, for instance, would have to pack up. Then each team would be assigned a radius, from which they can draft players, very much like how high schools assemble teams. Less dense areas would get larger radii to make up for their population disadvantage.
The devil’s advocates of the world will be quick to point out that the system could be manipulated by players claiming residency in one area to play for a certain team. These naysayers and the players would both be missing the point. This isn’t an attempt to control players’ destinies (The league tried to do that this offseason. I wasn’t about it then; I’m not about it now). It’s an attempt to cultivate greater pride in one’s city.
Greater pride translates to greater passion. Greater passion translates to better basketball.
Those players should want to represent their city. It should be a rite of passage. An honor.
European players are the only players for whom there’d be a draft. This draft would run exactly like the current NFL draft system. No lottery—just worst record gets first pick, and so on.
The stakes during the finals, or rivalry games, would all be as high as the World Cup. This isn’t just the Lakers versus the Celtics. This is Los Angeles versus Boston. West versus East. This is serious.
Does the system have holes? Absolutely. For instance, some teams would definitely start out weaker than others, just because of a lack of local talent. But holes that can’t be patched up? Nope. Being a weaker team would only motivate that city’s youth to train harder and represent their team with strength.
Plus, imagine how much more character Kobe would have had if he had been a 76er his whole career. That alone would be worth it.
A little over a month ago, I saw that one of my neighbors WiFi network names was GoHeatLBJ4MVP. LeBron James has a lot of fans and I am perfectly OK with that. He’s an amazing basketball player and it is silly for anybody to expect the world to hate him. What I do have issue with is that I don’t like the man and that I live in Columbus, Ohio. I don’t expect everybody in Ohio to dislike LeBron James, nor should they. I simply wish that they would not troll Cavs fans. I really don’t feel like living next door to Matt Belamy. It’s cool that he likes LeBron James and the Heat, but just don’t shove it in my face at Progressive Field in July of 2010.
I wrote this post requesting I GO HARD NOW readers to submit ideas for what I should change my WiFi network name to. I really did get some great submissions, but I decided to go with one that I came up with. It’s succinct and gets to the point. I don’t like LeBron James and I am going to troll my LeBron James fan of a neighbor.
Behold, the new-and-improved network that I use:
I look forward to seeing what happens after this.
2011 has been a huge year for I GO HARD NOW. We’ve had adventures in internet radio, an explosion of vistors and an insane influx of new writing talent. Seriously. It’s been an amazing year.