Pros vs. Joes

Miami Heat v New York Knicks - Game Three

My friends and I were discussing the NBA Playoffs the other day and someone posed a contentious question: could we score a single point against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a full game?  The gap between professionals and amateurs is much, much wider than the average person realizes.  The game is quicker, the opponents are bigger, and everything involved is just harder to accomplish.  But this wasn’t about beating professional athletes.  Nobody’s asking us to win a championship; nobody in the history of the world has been stupid enough to think I would ever win a championship at anything, except maybe drinking hot chocolate, or reading historical fiction novels.  No, the question is if we could score just a single point.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people out there believe themselves capable of scoring at least one point in this situation. It’s only one point!  In 48 minutes?  The law of averages is on your side.  If Air Bud can lead a team of 12 year olds to score 83 points, surely you could lead a team of functioning adult humans to hit one friggin’ basket.  Even if a game against the Cavs was somehow set up, a “Pros vs. Joes” type of scenario, certainly the Cavs would get bored enough to allow the Joes to score one basket, yes?  LeBron James would definitely let us score a point.  I’ve seen his Sprite commercials, I’ve seen him high five his kids after games, he’s a nice dude.  LeBron James wears some cool ass hats, and people who wear cool hats are rarely mean people.

In reality, I’d have to agree with that assessment; LeBron and Co. are too nice to go out there and serve a 200-0 beat down to a bunch of average guys.  But this is a hypothetical.  So in the interest of making this the most ridiculous hypothetical situation ever, let’s lay out this scenario:

If the Pros keep the Joes to 0 points:

  • $5,000,000 to each player
  • $1,000 to each fan

If the Joes score 1 or more points:

  • Entire pot split between team
  • Get to punch LeBron in the face

That’s a lot of money.  LeBron and Co. may be rich, but if keeping a group of losers off the board for 48 minutes gets them $5 million, I think they’re going to try their hardest.  As for the fans; people lose their minds for a free hot dog.  I once saw a grown man push a kid out of the way to catch a free t-shirt.  People would be out of control at this event.

Now, to your prize: if you guys score a point, just ONE point, your team splits the whole pot.  The Cavs go home with nothing, the fans go home with nothing, and you go home a very rich person.  You also get to punch LeBron in the face, no questions asked.  And given LeBron’s size, your team would likely be the only people in the world to have done this.

That being said, getting shut out in front of millions of people – obviously this game would be televised, it’d be must-see TV – and shut out in such a dominating fashion, would be extremely embarrassing.  I doubt you’d ever live it down.  How could you look your father-in-law in the face after he’s seen Kevin Love dunk on you and dangle his nuts in your face?  I couldn’t.  I’d die a lonely, defeated man.  But anyway.  You’ve heard the pitch, you know the stakes; would you be willing to do this?

 

Let me set the stage for you.  You arrive at Quicken Loans arena in your “not run down enough to be embarrassing but also not nice enough to give anybody the impression that you’re really successful” car, something like a Toyota Corolla.  Don’t get me wrong, a Toyota Corolla is a very respectable car to own.  But it’s not like you pull up to take a girl on a first date and she’s texting her friends “holy shit, he drives a COROLLA!”  Nobody is watching you get into your beige Corolla after work and thinking, “wow, I want what that guy’s got.”

LeBron pulls up next to you in his Escalade or tank or airplane or whatever he owns, and as he gets out of his car you begin to fully realize what an enormous human being he is.  He’s like a tree come to life, a big basketball loving tree who has a slightly receding hairline and who loves Sprite more than you love your dog.  He could wrestle a bear.  He could beat the living shit out of your dad.  He could jump over your stupid Toyota Corolla.

This man comes up to you, and after spitting on the ground at your feet, says he’s going to “wipe the floor with you,” and calls you a punk ass bitch.  Up until now, this has been a “this is going to be fun” kind of idea to you, something you’ll be able to look back on and tell your grandkids about.  Maybe you’ve even been cautiously optimistic about the whole ordeal.  You think that maybe, just maybe, you hit a three pointer or two and make a bit of a name for yourself.  “I played a real basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I sank a couple of threes!”  Now, LeBron James has made you realize that you are, in fact, a punk ass bitch.  Quite apart from hoping to hit a basket, you’re now focused entirely on escaping this game without incurring significant bodily harm.  You have to play 48 effing minutes?  Against THAT?

You head into the arena and see that there are cardboard cutouts of the faces of you and your teammates being distributed by vendors in the parking lot.  There’s a crowd on the sidewalk just outside of the queue to get in, and at the center is a father encouraging his daughter as she swings at a piñata in the shape of your head.  Any hope of help from the security guards is dispelled as you walk by a group of them encouraging the piñata beatdown; a number of them are crying with mirth.  As you make your way into the locker room, attempting to keep your head down, you see that a number of the cutouts already have male genitalia drawn in and around their mouths.  You were prepared for some opposition, but nobody could have prepared you for this.

You finally get into the locker room, a quiet island amidst a roaring sea of people who want nothing more than to see you fail.  Your friends are in there as well, having just experienced exactly what you did, their faces stricken with varying degrees of fear and shame.  You guys have about an hour to devise a strategy.  Despite the fact that two of you played high school basketball and a third “knows what he’s doing out there,” you can’t seem to come up with anything that will get you remotely close to the basket, given that the average size of the grown men you’re trying to score on is 6’8”, 235 lbs.

A special surprise awaits you as you head out onto the court, as the organizer of the event has placed all of your family members courtside, with your parents sitting under the hoop.  Initially excited to have at least one or two friendly faces in the crowd, you realize that your dad is wearing a shirt that says, “I MADE STUPID,” with a picture of your face on it.  Your mom has a cardboard cutout of your face, and while it’s mercifully free of dicks, it has “DISAPPOINTMENT” written across the forehead.  They got your parents.  Whatever money it took, whatever charities were given donations, whatever promises were made, you’re now facing perhaps the toughest test of your life, with your parents courtside cheering against you. Your parents also provided embarrassing biographical information about you; how many times you’ve shit your pants, the names and dates of girls or boys that shot you down, movies that make you cry, etc.; all of which is featured prominently in the game programs that have been handed out to fans, free of charge.

The game begins.  As literally everyone expected, it’s an absolute massacre.  From the opening tipoff, which you lose by at least two full feet, to the halftime buzzer, your team attempts all of ten shots.  Five are blocked easily by LeBron.  Three are heaves from your own side of the court, none of which come close the backboard.  One was an extremely wild pass that the scorekeeper generously counted as a shot.  The final shot of the half was surprisingly legitimate; following your last time-out of the half, one of the Cavs accidentally tripped over your teammate, which resulted in a broken nose for him and a relatively uncontested shot from just outside of three-point range for you.  The shot didn’t go in, but that didn’t stop LeBron from swearing furiously at the man who missed his assignment, hurling the f-word at Tristan Thompson at the top of his voice.  Your mother and father, who usually abhor that kind of language, join LeBron in booing Thompson off the court.  Your mom tells LeBron that he should sit.  Thompson doesn’t come back out for the second half of the game.

Nobody says much in the locker room at halftime.  In an attempt to get the team going, one of your friends half-heartedly says, “we only need to score one, guys!”  He’s met with silence.  Outside, you hear the crowd roar as the Cavs’ mascot, which for some reason is a beagle named “Moondog,” does dunks off of a mini-trampoline.  There are cheerleaders with a t-shirt cannon.  The Kiss Cam lands on a guy who kisses the girl next to him and then chugs his beer.  Someone hit a half-court shot, and the announcer gleefully points out that she’s beating the “Joes.”  Outside, the atmosphere is electric.  In here, the atmosphere resembles that of funeral of a close friend.

The second half begins, and now in addition to overcoming the vast physical superiority of your opponents, your team has to deal with the fatigue of playing a full basketball game.  Sucking wind, you and your teammates have resorted to one-handed heaves from well beyond half court.  You thought the fans would begin to lose interest after a while, but a message flashes across the Jumbotron that everyone gets Arby’s curly fries if the Cavs manage to put up 250 points.  In response to this opportunity of even more leisure and riches, the unruliness of the crowd reaches levels usually reserved for the infields of NASCAR events.  Adults and kids alike are reveling in the failure of you and your closest friends, and they’re all doing their part.  Personal insults are being hurled at you from every corner of the stands.  A number of fans have offered suggestions as to why your ex-girlfriend dumped you, almost all of which are concerned with what some like to call, “alone time.”

The game is finally drawing to a close.  Despite getting off more shots in the second half, you and your teammates have hit the rim a grand total of twice the entire game.  One of your teammates has descended into tears, which delights the merciless crowd.  They’re calling him “crybaby.”  A few of them inexplicably have adult diapers, which they wave with disturbing enthusiasm in your friend’s face.  As LeBron throws down a between-the-legs dunk to take the Cavs over 250 points, thunderous chants of “CURLY FRIES! CURLY FRIES! CURLY FRIES!” rain down on you.  The nightmare is almost over.

But wait.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you somehow manage to get to the foul line.  A highly unlikely proposition, as your team is completely and utterly defeated at this point. But let’s say that J.R. Smith, notorious for his mental lapses and once called “literally too stupid to be nervous,” makes a mistake and sends you to the line with 10 seconds left.  The players line up, and the ref gives you the ball.  Shaking with nerves, you air ball the first shot.  The crowd roars with laughter.  You see your mom high-five your dad.

You’ve got one shot left.

You take a deep breath and step up to the line, desperately trying to ignore the fact that you’re on national television, that you’re getting absolutely embarrassed in front of every person you’ve ever cared about, and that literally nobody in the world other than your friends is hoping that you make this.  This is the one chance you have at redemption.  If you make this, nobody will remember the rest of the game.  You won’t be the guy whose mother revealed that he sharted his khaki pants as a 23-year-old; you’ll be the guy who scored on the Cleveland effing Cavaliers and made himself millions of dollars.

Imagine the boos and taunts of 20,000 strangers raining down upon you as you try to hit this free throw.  Imagine LeBron James, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, screaming in your face to miss.  Then imagine seeing your mother, her normally placid face contorted with rage, flipping you double middle fingers from behind the basket.  The crowd is against you.  The best basketball player in the world is against you.  And the woman who brought you into this world is against you.  If I were a betting man, I’d say you miss that foul shot.

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2018 Winter Olympics

Olympics

Hello!  The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea are officially underway!  The Winter Olympics are celebrating their 22nd go-round, or as alcoholics like to call it, their “2nd 21st birthday.”  These Olympics will be great, because they’ll distract people from the fact that a short fat man from North Korea and a taller fat man from the United States might send the world into a nuclear winter because of Twitter.  But hey, I get it. Because if there’s one thing I’ve wanted to do after someone tells me they don’t like me, it’s destroy humanity.

Olympic athletes are asked to represent their countries at the best athletic competition in the world.  The only time I’ve ever been asked to represent a country was when I was forced to participate in a Model UN after I told my 7th Grade teacher she looked like a pear (Model UN is like Olympics, but for nerds).  I represented Norway, and if it was real life I would have been impeached or killed alarmingly fast.

To give everyone a better understanding of the Olympic events and what to watch for, I’ve broken down some of the more popular events.  You’re welcome!

Curling
The Olympics are a celebration of the best athletes in the world, and curlers.  If you think that curling looks more like a household chore than an Olympic sport, that’s because it is.  Curling was invented in 1892 by a Canadian mom who tried to get her kids to sweep ice because she hated them.  Imagine getting upset that someone beat you in curling.  “That guy was better at brushing ice than me.”  Oh man, I’m so sorry!  Better get out and practice on my front step.

Figure Skating
Figure skating is always a fan favorite, probably because there’s so much potential for people to fall and hurt themselves.  Figure skating is a lot like dancing on ice.  Some people will tell you that there are large differences between Figure Skating and ice dancing, but those people are nerds.  If I was a figure skater my song would be “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock and most people would probably be very uncomfortable.  “That’s not figure skating,” they’d say, “that’s just a guy doing the chicken dance. He’s not even wearing ice skates, those are Heely’s!”  But hey, that’s figure skating for you.

Ski Jump
The point of the Ski Jump seems to be, “How can we make sure people get really hurt if they screw up?”  Although I guess if you decide to go 60 mph and then attempt to jump 300 feet with pieces of wood strapped to your feet while wearing a lame one-piece body suit, you probably deserve to get hurt.  Charles Darwin called it “survival of the fittest,” but we at the Olympics call it “ski jump.”

Biathlon
The Biathlon is the Olympics’ attempt to make cross country skiing more entertaining.
Person 1: “How can we make people like cross country skiing?”
Person 2: “What if we gave them guns?”
The Biathlon is a race to ski and shoot targets.  Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about guns, it’s that speed, and not safety, is the top priority.  I bet those Biathlon guys get really steamed when they see how much cooler people think the Triathlon is, but hey, maybe they should add another “thlon” to their dumbass sport.  Add some more guns and we’ll talk to you.

Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton
If you like going really fast through the cold while gripping wood and steel and you’re not talking about chasing someone through a forest with an axe, boy do I have some sports for you.  Bobsled was invented in 1993 by John Candy and brought to worldwide attention with the success of the hit film Cool Runnings.  Luge and Skeleton are essentially the same thing as Bobsled, but with different names.  I’ve heard that the lugers make cool noises when they go around the turns so they can drown out the crowd when they laugh at them as they go by, probably for participating in the least cool Olympic event (after curling, of course).

Did you know that in the first ever Winter Olympics, there was a guy named Charles Granville Bruce who got a gold medal for trying to climb Mount Everest?  It’s true.  He didn’t even climb it, he just led an expedition that attempted it.  What a crock of shit!  I’m going to contact the IOC and ask if I can get a medal for things I’ve attempted to do and failed, like baking cookies without eating all the dough first, or trying to spell ‘pneumonia’ without looking it up.  Charles Granville Bruce doesn’t deserve that medal, and personally I hope he died up there on Mount Everest for accepting it.

Just kidding. Kind of.

Well, there you have it!  Personally, I think that the Olympics should come with an ego reducer, just so the athletes don’t get too cocky.  For example, there should be one penguin that luges against competitors in every race.  Then you can say, “yeah you won, but that little penguin kicked your ass.”  Boom.  Taken down a notch.  Even without penguins, the 2018 Winter Olympics will undoubtedly be quite a spectacle for the world to behold.  Let’s hope that we’re all alive when they end!

The Time I Played Pool Basketball

I’m going to tell you guys about the time I played a 14-year-old kid in pool basketball.  As with most experiences in my life, it did not go well.  It was the summer after my Junior year of college and I had a part time internship.  As I wasn’t old enough to buy alcohol, my days consisted mostly of hanging out at the pool in my apartment complex and attempting to catch the eye of the girls that hung out at my apartment complex.

There was a pool basketball net, which was cool.  Water basketball eliminates the need for dribbling, which I’ve always found to be very cumbersome.  As someone who cannot cut food with his left hand, attempting to control a bouncing ball with said hand has always proved to be an exercise in futility.  This eliminates most of my usefulness on the court; my only existing contribution to pickup basketball games is that I am sort of tall, and nothing else.

 

On that fateful day, there is a pretty girl tanning at the pool that is ignoring me, as usual.  So I decide to put on a display of manliness, and take to the pool by myself.  With nobody guarding me, I put on a respectable display.  I am making just over half of the shots I attempt, mostly layups.  I am using the backboard much less than usual.  I swish one or two shots from less than 5 feet away from the hoop.  I am LeBron James.

A young man comes up to me and asks if I would like to play him one-on-one.  Normally I would say no, because playing people that are younger than you in sports is almost always a lose-lose situation; but Tanning Girl looks in my general direction as he asks.  She is adjusting to get an even tan, but I pretend she is interested.  His mother, sitting on a chair a few feet away, tells me that her son is 14 and made his high school JV basketball team as a freshman.  She says that Seth is very good.  As a 6’2” 20-year-old, I’m sure I would make at least one Varsity basketball team.  I probably would not, but I am still bigger than he is.  I will crush Seth.

I jump out to an early lead, using my height and long arms to prevent him from scoring any points at all.  Tanning Girl is largely ignoring the game until Seth inadvertently splashes her, at which point she yells, “what the hell,” and moves to a different chair further away.  I try to give her a knowing look, one that demonstrates our mutual hatred of Seth.  She ignores me.

When I am one point away from winning, Seth, desperate to make a dent in my sizable lead, splashes water into my face while I’m in the act of shooting.  This dislodges one of my contacts, and I am instantly rendered half-blind, gasping in pain.  His mother laughs as the heavily chlorinated water burns one of the most sensitive areas on my body.  I briefly consider pushing her head underwater, but feel that Tanning Girl would not be impressed.

Now with little to no depth perception, I watch as my lead shrinks.  Knowing my weakness, Seth routinely splashes my face before darting to the rim and making layups with absurd ease.  To my horror, Tanning Girl has started to take interest in the game, as have several other pool patrons.  She cheers for Seth alongside his mother.  She has betrayed me.

After a short period, we are tied with one point to go.  I am tied with a 14-year-old in a game of pool basketball, and he has possession of the ball.  I am going to lose.  In a fit of ill-timed gallantry, Seth abandons his splashing and attempts a clean game-winning shot.  I see him go up.  I meet him, and block the shot with as much force as I possess – right into his face. I vaguely register that the full force of the block has rebounded off Seth’s face, and that he might be in need of medical attention.  I do not care.  Jubilant, I grab the ball out of midair and slam the ball through the hoop.  I have done it.  I am victorious.  I am all that is man.

As I come back to reality, I realize Seth’s mother is screaming.  Turning around, I see that Seth is crying and holding his hands to his nose, which is gushing blood.  I know it sounds like exactly what happened in Meet the Parents, and that is because it is almost exactly like what happened in Meet the Parents.  Multiple people are yelling at me.  Tanning Girl is one of them.  A man who arrived in an old pickup truck is angrily pointing at me.  I wonder if he has a gun in his truck; I begin to fear for my life.  I ask loudly if Seth is okay, to which he replies, “Fuck you.”  His mother screams at me to “get out,” which I do as quickly as I possibly can.  Many people might call that cowardice.  To those people, I say this: you are right.

 

There have been a lot of awkward, cringe-worthy moments in my life, but this one might take the cake.  Whenever you’re confronted with situations that seem to be lose-lose, they probably are, and it’s best to just walk away.  Sure, you might win, but you never know when a display of supreme, awesome manliness could result in you being threatened by men who drive pickup trucks.

But most of all, just remember: I beat Seth fair and square.  That fucking point counted.

Your Guide to the 2016 Olympics

Rio Olympics

Hello everyone.  The 2016 Summer Olympics are almost here! The Olympics are held every four years, and bring the world together to watch the athletes that got away with using PEDs compete for their respective countries.  For those of you who don’t know, the Olympics began back in ancient Rome, when Julius Caesar challenged some guy to a push up contest.  Since then the Olympics have evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, one that almost always leaves the host nation with crippling debt and allows Subway to remind people that they endorse professional athletes, and not just weird guys who like kids.  This year’s Olympics are being held in Rio de Janeiro, and promise to leave Brazil an even bigger shithole than it was before, if you can believe it.  The 2016 Games consist of 42 sports; 306 events in only 19 days!  I know that sounds overwhelming, so I’ve created a handy dandy Olympic Guide to assist you in nailing down exactly what you should and shouldn’t watch.

First things first: a few facts about the host city.  Rio de Janeiro was named after the 2011 animated feature film Rio, which featured Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway as the voices of the two main characters.  There is no known record of the city’s name before the movie came out, and quite frankly, I don’t care to know it.  Despite the film’s terrible stars, it was a moderate box office success that showcased some of the bright colors and spicy attitudes that permeate Brazilian culture.  Experts say that the government of Brazil first began distributing colorful garments to distract its citizens from the poverty and crime that run rampant through the streets of the South American country, and the move has proven surprisingly effective.  Brazil has a knack for churning out soccer stars, having won the FIFA World Cup a record 5 times.  It is also home to a large swath of the Amazon River, which is surrounded by a dense tropical forest that the Brazilians are doing their best to destroy.  No matter how many trees are chopped down each year, it never seems like enough.  Brazil also has its own unique food (I’m assuming), but I don’t know any of the dishes because I don’t speak Portuguese and I’ve never been there before.  I think bananas grow there?  Nobody knows for sure.

But enough fun facts!  You’re here for sports, and sports you shall have.  I can’t go through every sport being played in the Olympics, because that would take too long and I have a lot of stuff to do today (eat, sleep, watch National Treasure, etc.).  Here are some things I think you should know before you tune in to Rio 2016.

Rowing
Rowing is basically just a bunch of dudes racing in canoes.  It might sound boring, and that’s because it is.  If I wanted to watch people frantically row a boat, I’d watch Titanic.  At least I’d see Kate Winslet’s boobs.  Granted, the potential exists for aquatic crashes, fights, and possible anaconda attacks in the dirty Brazilian water.  But I won’t watch.  If I really wanted to see people row a boat on some river, I’d watch my uncles try to fish.

Fencing
Fencing is like sword fighting, but for people who enjoy dressing like weird Storm Troopers and using little bendy swords instead of the actual ones you see on the HBO smash hit, Game of Thrones.  I guess one of the guys’ helmets could fall off and then you could get some dramatic footage, but the odds of that are slim to none.  If they want me to watch this, put the contestants in full knight armor and let ‘em have at it.

Rugby
Rugby is like American football, but with no pads.  Can you imagine football with no pads?  I can, but I probably couldn’t have before I watched rugby.   Do I understand the rules?  Of course not, nobody does.  I doubt even the players understand the rules, or the referees.  But the New Zealand team does a dance when they win that reminds me of Lilo and Stitch, which is a great movie.  I challenge anyone to dislike rugby, and I challenge anyone to dislike Lilo and Stitch.  Seriously, if you say you don’t like that movie I’ll come to your house and make you watch the whole thing with me.  Rugby: 10/10 will watch religiously.

Volleyball
Volleyball is a pretty cool sport.  It’s not as cool as rugby, but it is close.  It’s like a big game of hot potato, which is a game I always won when I was little.  Some people from my past might tell you I won because I cheated and threw the potato at the other players and scared them into quitting, but those people need to mind their own business and stop making excuses for things that happened a long time ago.  Also, there’s the off chance that a spectator could get hit with a stray ball, which is funny, unless they’re old.  They could die, and death is never funny (unless the person who dies is Donald Trump).  A lot of people only know volleyball as the thing that Tom Hanks drew a face on and had sex with in Cast Away, but I think it’s more fun as a sport.

Swimming
People like swimming, but I don’t really get it.  The bathing suits are either way too revealing (men) or not nearly enough so (women).  If I wanted to see dudes walking around in Speedos, I’d just watch my neighbor Gary try to sell lemonade to the neighborhood kids.  No thanks, Gary.  If people are swimming in the rivers of Brazil this has the potential to be somewhat exciting, due to the amount of chemical waste in the waterways surrounding Rio and the supposed dangerous animals that have shown up (jellyfish, poisonous fish, Michael Phelps).  I would probably tune in if they wore water wings, because watching people try to swim fast in water wings is hilarious.

Table Tennis/Badminton
I know these are two different sports, but they’re essentially the same thing.  It’s one team or person using a racquet to get a little object over onto the opponent’s side, and not letting it hit the ground.  Both of these involve a good deal of skill, but apart from some thrilling volleys, are relatively boring.  I propose that both of these events be turned into full contact sports.  After all, most of the world’s best spectacles are full contact (football, hockey, The Bachelorette), and it would greatly increase the entertainment value.  Until then, hard pass on these two.

Soccer (Football)
Everywhere else in the world calls this sport football, because you kick a ball with your foot.  But because Americans have to make everything way more difficult than it should be (not using the metric system, calling the “bathroom” the “restroom,” having way more fat people than everywhere else), we call it soccer.  Soccer is a very fun sport to play, but not so much to watch.  Usually the matches only have one or two goals, and feature a lot of people falling down because they get breathed on too hard.  If you’re interested in how to look like you know what you’re talking about with soccer, I wrote this about the World Cup in 2014.

There you have it!  I hope this has been informative for you guys.  If anyone wants to come over and watch the Olympics with me, I’ll be painting “USA” on my chest in the mirror.  After, we can do what every American Olympian does and go to Bennigan’s for 3 to 4 Monte Cristo sandwiches (minimum).  See you there!