Hitting NBA below the belt

Basebrawl fever: Catch it!

The Ramblings: A series of awkward high-fives

We might as well start here:

February, 1998. The Fleet Center in Boston. Year One of the soon-to-be-doomed Pitino Era. Minutes before the Celtics and Jazz tipped off, I was watching along with everyone else as the Boston organization honored Henry Louis Gates, the esteemed African-American professor from Harvard University.

Dressed to the nines in an elegant suit, Gates seemed touched by the generous round of applause from the hometown crowd. He tossed an honorary jump ball to the home/visiting captains, shook some hands, posed for some photographs and waved to the crowd. Once the applause finally wound down, Gates started walking past the Celtics side of the court on the way back to his seat.

Since the professor’s path brought him past the Celtics’ lay-up line, then-rookie Ron Mercer respectfully stepped out of line to shake his hand as Gates was passing through. An equally respectful Bruce Bowen did the same. Just as Gates was finishing with Bowen, backup swingman Dontae Jones was running back into line after rebounding a layup. In other words, he was heading straight towards Gates.

Now … you have to remember, Dontae Jones was the “wild card” of that year’s Celtics team, the token “Talented Guy Who Can’t Get His Act Together But Somehow Remains Strangely Endearing” guy with whom every NBA team rolls the dice from time to time. You know the type. Huge college stats, disappointing in the pros, can’t play defense, shines in pickup games, always a step ahead of the fashion trends (cornrows, box haircut, baggy shorts, whatever) and the kind of guy who borrows $20 from a teammate and never gives it back.

They drift in and out, they dominate garbage time from time to time, they get veiled praise from the coaching staff … and eventually, they just disappear. We’ve had a bunch of guys like that on the C’s over the years — Terry Duerod, Marcus Webb, Chris Herren, Marvin Barnes … the list goes on.

So Dontae was half-heartedly jogging back to his spot in the layup line, and there was Gates, and Dontae nonchalantly threw up his hand for an
inexplicable high-five. Even more inexplicably, a startled Gates raised his hand above his head and obliged.

Yup. You couldn’t make that one up if you tried. Dontae Jones exchanging a high-five with Henry Louis Gates.

(The NBA … It’s FANNNNNNNN-tastic! I love this game!)

You see, sometimes it’s not about who wins and who loses. Sometimes it’s not about who shines and who chokes. Sometimes it’s not about money, it’s not about stats, it’s not about quotes and it’s not about the media.

Sometimes it’s not about who’s getting traded, injured, suspended, waived, hired, fired, bought and sold. Sometimes it’s not about who raises us, and it’s not about who lets us down. Sure, those things come into play 99 percent of the time, but that other 1 percent matters, too, those dopey, unexpected moments that you never forget — like Dontae Jones high-fiving Henry Louis Gates.

What does this have to do with me and my new Page 2 gig? Nothing … and everything.

On to the Ramblings.

Thoughts while wondering if Joel Goodson ever got into Princeton

  • When they have the “Which Rock Star Is Aging The Worst” Olympics, Gene Simmons and Eddie Van Halen will definitely battle in the semifinals for the right to face Keith Richards.

  • My favorite double-entendre sports position is “the deep snapper.”

  • The fastest I’ve ever driven in my life was during that 10 minutes after seeing “The Fast and the Furious.” I think I went 130 on the Tobin Bridge.

  • Does anyone else think the Jon Kitna-Akili Smith-Scott Mitchell QB battle in Cincinnati this summer will be riveting in a “Saved By the Bell: The College Years” kind of way?

  • That reminds me, when the “NYPD Blue” producers were sitting around this summer trying to find a replacement for Rick Schroeder, did one of them actually chime in, “Hey, what about the guy who played Zack on ‘Saved By the Bell’? Is he available?” I mean, did that really happen?

  • You can learn a lot about somebody when you’re standing behind them in line at a pharmacy.

  • All right, I’ll ask: Where does VH1 find those “rock journalists” they interview for those “Behind the Music” shows? Have you ever recognized any of them? I mean, any of them?

  • There’s comedy, there’s high comedy, there’s transcendent comedy … and then there’s any video of Andre Agassi’s hair from the early-’90s. They should
    sell the Agassi wig for Halloween — I’d wear it. Hell, I’d even grow a cheesy beard just for the occasion.

  • You know it’s 3 a.m. and you’re drunk, when Cheri Oteri starts to look good.

  • When you own one of those shirts that looks like the American flag, July 4th is probably the highlight of your year.

  • I wish I could buy stock in things like “The Vikings will regret signing Randy Moss to a $100 million contract extension some day.”

  • Put it this way: You need a lot of self-confidence to date Traci Lords.

  • Now that David Duval has finally shed the “best player never to win a major” label, he needs to start working on shedding the “best player who seems like he may have suffered a few electro-shock treatments over the years” label.Bud Selig

  • Bud Selig seems like the kind of guy who would be excited about having a utility monopoly during a Monopoly game, doesn’t he?

  • The greatest “Two-Minute Drill” of all-time would definitely feature John Rocker, Dikembe Mutombo, Old Dirty Bastard and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as the
    celebrity panelists.

  • Speaking of TV shows, last weekend proved once again that celebrity golf tournaments are always worth an hour of your time, if only for the chance to
    see Michael Douglas and Haley Joel Osment exchanging an awkward high-five, while Kenny G looks on.

  • One thing you learn from owning a DVD player: Deleted scenes are usually deleted for a reason.

  • Enough time has passed where we can safely say that “Leave it to Beaver” was the funniest name for a TV show in the history of mankind.

  • I hate to be the one to say it, but the Red Sox winning a World Series without Pedro would be the watershed Ewing Theory example of all-time.

  • You know you’re watching ESPN Classic when Karl Malone is firing up a brick in the last two minutes of a playoff game.

  • Put it this way: Jennifer Capriati couldn’t be a car, because her battery would be dead all the time.

  • History will show that the greatest inventions of the past two years were whatifsports.com, Baked Lays potato chips, Red Bull and the Game Show Network, especially when they’re all happening at the same time.

  • That reminds me, if I ever entered a time machine, went back 20 years and became a contestant on the “$100,000 Pyramid,” I’d rather give the clues when I was
    going for the $100,000 at the end. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do well receiving the clues … just that I’d probably feel more comfortable giving
    them, that’s all.

  • Whenever you see video of Larry Brown on the Sixers sidelines, he always looks perplexed that Jack, Janet and Crissy are late with the rent again.

  • Reason #159 why you have to love “Traffic”: the court scenes where Boone from “Animal House” is defending Manny from “Scarface.”

  • Hey, when does Vince Carter start studying for the GREs?

  • I thought it was cool that ESPN hired the killer from “Scream” to be the new Sunday night SportsCenter narrator.

  • One of the greatest TV theme songs of all-time was the theme song to “Baywatch.” Remember that one? I’ll be the-re … (I’ll be there!) … Never
    you fe-ar … (Oh you know I’ll be!) I’ll be the-re … Forever and always … I’m ALWAYS here!!!!!!

    (Now that song will be running through your head for the rest of the day. Hah!)

  • Things that frighten me, Chapter 255: a) anyone who feels the need to start a drunken conversation with a cab driver on the way home from a bar; b) the pulsating vein under Sly Stallone’s left eye; c) the fact that I sat through an hour of “The Def Leppard Story” just to see the part where the drummer’s arm got severed in the car accident.

  • OK, if Aaron Brooks had turned down K-Swiss, who was the next guy on their wish list … Ray Lucas?

  • Heard at the ESPN Zone in Las Vegas last weekend: “Hello, my name is He Hate Me. I’ll be your waiter this evening.”

  • You know you’re watching a bad movie, when somebody parks their car right in front of an airport terminal and comes sprinting out of it as an inept
    policeman screams, “Hey, you can’t park here!”

  • If Mike Piazza had charged Clemens during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series, that would have been the most exciting baseball moment of all-time. I will not argue about this.

  • Let’s be honest: The Allison Fisher-Jeanette Lee nine-ball feud is slowly becoming the Russell-Chamberlain rivalry of my generation.

  • Nobody — repeat, nobody — wears their pants higher than Bob Ryan.

  • My favorite code in baseball is the “Don’t show up the pitcher after a home run” code. My least favorite code is the “adjust
    your cup as much as possible” code.

  • It’s easier to create a nuclear bomb from scratch than it is to figure out the exact age of a Cuban baseball player.

  • Finally, I keep trying to come up with the perfect ending to this whole “Barry Bonds gunning for 71 homers” thing … and I think it goes something like this:

    Barry gets to 69 with four games to go. The pressure mounts. The world’s rooting against him — not openly, but secretly, because, after all, it’s simply impossible to like Barry Bonds or support him in any way, shape or form. He takes an 0-fer in the first game. He takes an 0-fer in the second game. Suddenly he snaps in the postgame press conference, upbraiding a reporter for no reason and reminding everyone why we didn’t like him in the first place.

    Now we can openly root against him, and we do, and we’re sending him so much negative energy that he doesn’t have a chance in hell. And after he fails to go deep in the final two games, the season ends with him standing at “69.” How fitting would that be?

    Yup … what goes around comes around.

    Until next time …

    Bill Simmons writes three columns a week for Page 2.

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    Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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