All Barnes Myself: WARRIORS

China 57 – 107 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 7p / 3r / 0a

Tonight at Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors led Team China from wire to wire. Kevin Durant opened with Team USA’s first ten points, including an effortless three off the opening tip, and an overexuberant Warriors crowd ate up every minute of it, only dimly aware their three heroes were 6-of-17 from three, and never quite seeming to notice that it was DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony who finally blew the game open.

But how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: [USA] Barnes Jump Shot: Missed 09:23
[USA] Barnes Jump Shot: Missed 08:54

“There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” -Matthew 24:2

In response to an increasingly sloppy first half by the Warriors, Barnes finally got to open up the second quarter. And boy was he quick to disappoint, immediately jab-stepping left, driving right, and overshooting a stumbling, running hook by a thousand yards. The play-by-play scorekeeper noted it as a “missed jump shot” out of some misguided combination of ethical care, wounded patriotism, and theory-laden confusion, producing a harsh jumble of words so conceptually pre-situated, one could feel it straining to resurrect the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. And I hope neither of you enjoyed that strained “joke.”

The very next play, Harrison rushed a wide-open corner three that caromed in and out. He yelped in frustration, but his nosediving play thus far had screamed for a swift benching like a Stuka bomber. How would I ever continue growing my popular new blog feature without a single Harrison Barnes highlight??????????

All the while, the commentators would not stop marveling over how many Warriors jerseys Kevin Durant would sell (seven thousand so far!), and how many Warriors games he might win (seven million!!)

By the time the broadcasting crew acknowledged that Barnes had checked in, he had already missed two shots so convincingly, using 100% of Team USA’s offensive usage, that he looked like Homer Simpson standing knee-deep in the waste of an imploding nuclear reactor, twin marionette arms hanging lazily by his sides.

Highlight: [USA 33-17] Barnes Cutting Dunk Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Durant (1 AST) 06:57

“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” -Matthew 24:13

Following Barnes’ slow start, both teams looked increasingly rushed and sloppy. In particular, the score seemed to hang heavy on American shoulders, crushed by the unmovable weight of Warrior fans’ expectations. For an eternity they led 31-17, as dawn turned to dusk, as civilizations rose and fell from the grave in turn, as the announcers dimly tried to explain that the United States had too many ball-handlers to even make a play.

When Cousins and Durant checked back in on a dead-ball, I couldn’t believe Barnes was allowed to stay. And as two superpowers continued to exchange turnovers, fouls, and international debts, a single voice from the upper bowl spilled into a thousand throats, willing together to make America Great Again.

“Warriors.”
“WARRIORS.”

“WARRIORS!”

So this is how democracy dies. As I adjusted my television set, the ball swung from Kyrie, to the popping Durant, to the cutting Barnes, who floated slowly upwards for a completely open dunk.

The crowd erupted into applause — and the cries for Golden State, those manic shouts from the halls of death, were immediately snuffed out. In an instant, I felt some misplaced emotion. Was it paternal pride? Patriotic identification?? Sheer relief that I could guiltlessly visit with old friends??? What a dizzying moment. I was almost happy to be an American, and to have watched Harrison Barnes.

And that’s when I finally knew everything was going to be alright.

Harrison Barnes looks to dismantle Team Venezuela this Friday at 8 pm central.

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All Barnes Myself: David and Goliath

China 57 – 106 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 6p / 1r / 0a

In tonight’s blowout, DeMar DeRozan only solidified his need for even more minutes ahead of Harrison. And in tonight’s broadcast, Marv Albert only solidified his need to retire forever. We could discuss the frozen vertical image of Barnes’ dunk, or his three-point miss pinballing endlessly over the top of the backboard. We could wonder how he still isn’t in the official Team USA box scores, and draw up bets on whether anyone over the next hundred years will ever notice. But certain patterns of play have recurred two games in a row, so I’d like to sum up Harrison Barnes for you in twenty seconds of play:

Lowlight: [CHN 36-60] Peng Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Jiwei (1 AST) 06:17

“And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.” -1 Samuel 17:44

Zhou Qi is 7’2, but weighs just 218 pounds. Scouts worry his listed age is questionable, and insist that he lacks strength, quickness, and mental toughness, so obviously the Rockets drafted him with the 43rd pick this year. Amazingly, Harrison is already seven pounds heavier, with a center of gravity half a foot lower to the ground. So who’s hunting who? Well on this play, Barnes makes Qi look like the goddamned leviathan.

To be sure, it’s not all Harrison’s fault. As team captain Peng sprints to his left,  Qi feloniously slides about five feet into Barnes, burying him with a screen. Barnes crumples like a crash test dummy failing a rollover test, but the ref chooses to forever hold his peace. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan takes three useless steps towards Barnes’ corpse, effectively abandoning the play as Peng curls around for the open look. Draymond turns to uselessly recognize the shooter from beneath the basket; three days later, Barnes rises from the dead to fly by his open shot.

Baudrillard would have a field day. Here, the whole of the team defensive concept is constructed from the effortless swapping of disjointed projections of effort itself. This is the end of use- and exchange-value. There remains only the economy of signs, the empty back-and-forth of mere reproduction. The end of the era of defensive production is at hand, and it’s mostly DeAndre’s fault for valuing the hollow statistic of his three blocked shots. Which were admittedly pretty bad-ass.

But mostly, I just wish Barnes wouldn’t explode on every fucking screen. It’s gonna be a long year.

Highlight: [USA 62-36] Barnes Driving Layup Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Lowry (4 ASTS) 05:49

“And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine” -1 Samuel 17:48

Under Mark Jackson, Klay Thompson struggled to create for himself, appearing one-dimensional. In 2013, he was projected to be just the 83rd best NBA player in 2017, and the criticisms are worth noting. But then Steve Kerr established a gliding motion offense designed to maximize the strengths of his two prized shooters, and Klay has grown into the league’s most proficient cutter. He even looks dangerous driving for himself when he catches the ball with a running start. Encouragingly, Barnes pulls off a very similar move here to challenge Qi at the rim.

Off Lowry’s kick-out, Barnes doesn’t even pause to survey his 3-on-2 advantage. Instead, he immediately swerves towards the bucket, though he picks up his dribble a step too early. He’s funneled left: disaster is imminent. But then, he smoothly bumps Qi, twisting and tumbling a wrong-footed layup softly up and in. Clearly his handle and footwork are lacking, and his decision-making is still a work in progress. But Barnes made an almost identical move at the end of the Argentina game, hinting that maybe he really can make off-the-dribble plays in an offense designed to give him quick-hitting opportunities.

Is there hope for Barnes yet? Can you really build the Six Million Dollar Man?? Stay tuned for the next hundred episodes as we painstakingly find out. Just kidding, you don’t have to read this shit forever.

But don’t forget to watch Harrison Barnes bludgeon China again this Tuesday at 9 pm central. I really will keep writing. Because who needs use-value anyway?

All Barnes Myself: In the Corner

Argentina 74 – 111 Team USA

Harrison Barnes: 4p / 2r / 0a

In today’s nationally broadcasted dose of patriotism, ESPN proudly displays, on continuous loop, the tremendous fourth-quarter shooting of Kevin Durant, fiery enough to shame the Las Vegas sun. Don’t forget the courageous return of a Paul George, grateful for his chance to return from horrific injury! And who could forget the familiar face of Olympic Melo, playing shocking bits of defense, one instant at a time, here corralling a loose ball, there delivering an obvious foul with both forearms?

All the while, the voices of old men react with unsuppressed awe and wholesome surprise. My god, Team USA really has vanquished an Argentinian national team that is collectively 342 years old, with over a century more basketball experience than the United States Constitution!

But how did Harrison Barnes do?

Lowlight: First half DNP, Coach’s Decision.

“For neither did his brethren believe in him. Then [Harry] said unto them, ‘My time is not yet come: but your time is alway (sic) ready.'” -John 7:6

In a first half where every other American player recorded between six and twelve minutes, Harrison’s moment never quite came, mirroring only Carlos Delfino on the Argentinian side. To be sure, NBA wings seem particularly unafraid of the Zika Virus, as a squad with two point guards (Kyrie & Lowry), two real bigs (Cousins & Jordan), and one other huge bitch (Draymond Green), nonetheless features a total of seven wings. In some order, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and DeMar DeRozan all stand indisputably ahead of our hero in the rotation. And just like that, Barnes, the ideal 3-and-D player, abruptly discovers himself the fourth best defender, and the fifth best shooter at his position. One can only surmise his vertiginous panic, the utter collapse of his own self-concept into nothingness.

But someone has to quietly take the fall for his country, and if that man is earning 0.75 cents per second over the next fours years, so much the better. Barnes carries tremendous strategic value as a stashed weapon of second-half misdirection, suddenly emerging from the shadows of Team USA huddles to play far worse than the enemies of America ever could have expected. While I was eating, I think he shot an airball; hours later, he doesn’t even appear in Team USA’s box score. What a selfless American hero.

Following Freud, I will also keep an eye on his developing castration anxiety.

Highlight: Harrison Barnes checks into the game, spreads the floor.

“He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Team on three.” -John 7:18

Coming out of halftime, coach’s decision finally changed — to starting Barnes! And eight seconds in, Harrison was dramatically crucified on a screen, allowing Ginobili an easy left-handed layup as the commentators apologized for him. “Manu is so good at going left!” they gasped, awestruck in the wake of a left-handed 39-year-old man.

But Harrison never plays for himself. He seeketh not his own glory.

After three and a half quarters of playing even fucking worse, Klay Thompson finally hit the bench for good. Team USA turned to its unlikely hero in Harrison Barnes, who helped the team claw out a 37-point decision on the back of Kevin’s supermundane shooting.

And who was there in the left corner, time and time again, to create space for Durant? Who spread the floor from the short corner three, hands limply at his side, as though to say, this isn’t my moment?? You should shoot again Kevin; don’t pass it here????

That’s our very own #8, facilitating à la his childhood idol, Kobe Bryant.

Harrison Barnes takes on China this Sunday at 7pm central.

All Barnes Myself: An Introduction

In our Baudrillardian SportsCentric world, God knows you’ll view each Curry lob to Durant from all conceivable and inconceivable camera angles. You’ll gaze deliriously upon every anti-heroic triple-double of an embittered and self-consciously abandoned Russell Westbrook. You’ll curse as Rondo, Wade, and Butler hesitantly pass the ball between themselves for one unconscionably wide-open look from deep after another. Take these as givens.

But what you don’t already know is what Harrison Barnes will do.

 

Highlight: GM Donnie Nelson cuffs himself to Harrison Barnes.

“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” -Joshua 1:9

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Witness Donnie Nelson, son of modern smallball’s infamous progenitor, linked at the wrist to new free agent acquisition and NBA Champion Harrison Barnes. It is little secret that the Mavericks have long appeared in need of high-flying, youthful athleticism (consider it equally obvious for now that DeAndre Jordan is a huge bitch). But try as he might, Harrison will never get away from the Mavericks now; what a catch!!

At eighteen, Barnes was the consensus #1 recruit overall; at twenty, he was the #7 pick in the NBA draft. Now at twenty-four, he remains a solidly above-average small forward, the worthy starter for a 73-win team. Slotting in for ex-Mav Chandler Parsons, he will be lengthier, more agile, and genuinely attempt to play defense. He is already Chandler’s equal as a quality streak shooter, particularly from the NBA corners, but three years younger. With less hitch to his shot and eight inches more bounce to his step, he may yet make the leap that Chandler never could.

Most importantly, Harrison Barnes is the prototype of the modern 3-and-D forward, and a true two-way player. In his day, Barnes would have inspired the original Don Nelson to try then-unthinkable lineups, pairing Barnes at the 4 with Bogut or—God forbid—Dirk at the 5, should the Mavericks wish to eschew all rebounds for a thousand generations. More likely, he spends most of his time in the wings alongside his possible future avatar in Wesley Matthews, although with Dallas’ apparent eagerness to play an eight-point guard rotation, he may ultimately play more 4 as the season goes on and Carlisle starts tinkering to rest Dirk’s aging, $20-million-a-year legs. In any event, the Mavs are going all-in on Harrison.

 

Lowlight: Harrison Barnes cuffs himself to GM Donnie Nelson.

“And she said unto [Harrison Barnes], I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.” -Joshua 2:9

And that’s a bit of a problem. With the NBA announcing that the 2016-17 salary cap will be $5 million lower than expected, Dallas is left fielding yet another team of wily, mismatched veterans and overpaid free agents that Carlisle will cleverly exploit to their maximal potential of just-over .500 ball and a hard-fought first-round exit.

Harrison is already a scapegoat in the aftermath of the NBA Finals, and a laughingstock well in advance of the 2016 Zika Games in Brazil. There, he will rub elbows with Klay, Draymond, and Kevin, and in the heat and pressure of such intense closed-doors competition, he may finally acquire the adamantine sparkle of a nascent diamond; he may also shatter on sight, shimmering away under the pressure. There are whispers within the Mavericks organization that Harrison may average twenty points for them as a go-to scorer; it is hard to imagine better than an inconsistent seventeen.

For years, an aging Dirk has willingly sacrificed up to $78.7 million in salary to populate the roster around himself with further talent and remain competitive. Now, the unadulterated weight of this burden falls squarely on Harrison Barnes’ shoulders, who has come to take the mantle from such fire-to-ash stars as O.J. Mayo, Monta Ellis, and the still-lingering Deron Williams, who yet remains suspended between death and undeath. With one final roll of the dice, Dallas’ all-too-mortal 38-year-old stretch forward is obliged place all his faith and hope in a 24-year-old who reached twenty points just 6 times in 89 appearances last year, and finished 5-of-32 from the field as the Cavaliers clawed their way back to steal history.

Harrison Barnes could fuck everything up, slowly imploding upon himself like an office building whose designated time has come, the millstone of his contractual expectations dragging him further downward, floor by floor. Or he could develop a purposeful off-the-dribble game with a mean streak; he might take accountability for this squad, and lead the Mavericks by the throat right back into relevance. And that’s why just in case, I’ll be watching every moment.

So whenever you’re ready to read about the most mysterious man in the NBA, I’ll be right here. All Barnes Myself.

THE PLAYOFFS: ROUND 2 IN REVIEW

“Alright Shaq, what you got for me?”

“An ever-deepening sense of ennui, as, once again, none of you shitty stand-in hosts can sing along or even pretend to amuse yourselves.”

SHAQ
-100 D’Angelo RATSELL On-court, this one is probably a high 3 for sheer what-the-fuckery, but Kobe Bryant elevates the play with a great reaction shot that mixes awe and disgust in equal measure.

But in the studio, things are going even worse.

Lisa Leslie drops the line “What’s he doing?” for the fifth time in three appearances. Everyone ignores her!

We get rousing studio chants for defense! They’re interacting with each other now!! I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Lisa Leslie certainly doesn’t. To bookend the occasion, she mumbles to herself: “Ah. Poor…” just as Shaq cuts in: “Number two!”

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Tarik BLACK In a moment of mental paralysis, Shaq forgets how to read the teleprompter, replacing the word “who” with “what.” In an even more stunning instance of psychological confusion, Tarik Black also struggles to get things going for his curmudgeonly team of on-air analysts.

Lisa Leslie exclaims “What the heck!” for the twelfth time. I love the CG passing lines Shaq wills into existence. I hate the reference to the XFL.

really do hate Lisa Leslie mumbling: “Dang. Come on, man.” For the second clip in a row, she’s sucked out all the energy at the end, like venom from a snakebite, or Hillary Clinton at a Dem debate, or capping off a wild, debaucherous night with a 2 a.m. meal from Arby’s.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Jared SULLINGER In this baffling play, Valanciunas’s rigidity to form is matched only by Sullinger’s obedience to the Newtonian conception of gravity. For once, the play is so disjointed and inhuman that even Shaq’s co-hosts can comment appropriately.

Yes, it does look like a video game, NBA 2k to be exact (but not to needlessly name-drop corporate sponsers.) It feels exactly like some ephemeral recreation of real life that exists not to represent deeply, but merely to indicate abstractly enough to briefly entertain.

And I bet both players’ controllers are super low on batteries.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 James HARDEN It’s gotten to the point where I really fucking hope that out-of-bounds passes get the sort of CGI extendo-treatment that Shaq always bestows. It’s incredibly gratifying to imagine a collapsible Pat Beverly unfurling himself up-up-and-up towards the ball. Somehow, it brings back dull, mis-remembered childhood images from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang built on primitive blue-screen effects. It really shouldn’t.

By the way, every single clip has been a 3.5 so far. Shaq is killing it on these clips. And the crew is committing genocide on the mic.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Klay THOMPSON Despite broadly sharing anti-natalist sentiments with Schopenhauer, I suppose there is, from my point of view, some chance that I have a grandchild. So I decided to watch every one of the Warriors’ last twenty games this year. And that means I saw this play unfold live.

The only problem? It’s not really a stupid play. In a way, it emblematic of the Warriors transcending basketball by drafting two singular shooting talents and then constructing a system to outsmart everyone else.

Here, they just out-outsmarted everyone, as Curry passed up one 70% three in semi-transition for another.

The best part is really Klay saying “Man, fuck that” afterwards. Maybe I can ethically adopt?

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

MISC
-15 Julis RANDLE Obscene gestures Fined $15,000.
FUCK
-100 Cleveland CAVALIERS Bed bugs. League CURSE

 

But wait, there’s even more Shaqtin! And now, Shaq has BRENT BARRY in the studio to banter with!! This should be fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Well, everyone sings this time, but it’s painfully self-aware and out-of-rhythm. So not the brightest of indicators imaginable.

SHAQ
-100 Erik SPOELSTRA This play by Marcelo Huertas is unbelievably intelligent, and blatantly illegal. I’d like to give him a +100 here, but Shaq explicitly confirms that the only nominee worth considering is Coach Spo for acting as a “human shield,” vaguely painting the accoladed coach as some sort of willing accessory to a deceptive, foreign insurgent stealing from decent everyday Americans (like Goran Dragic.)

“Good move, Huertas” adds Brent Barry with his characteristic sexual drawl.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 James HARDEN These are really getting out of hand. Speaking of hands, we were taught in high school to play off-ball defense with one hand on the defender, and one on the ball by en elderly ex-cop with beach-blonde hair and a one-motion offense entirely predicated off of pinch-post give-and-go action that went out of style by the mid-forties and out of date by the early sixties. I don’t think we won a game.

Good thing McDermott also blows.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3/4 Shaqs

-100 Corey BREWER A phenomenal catch/pass, with the caveat that it devolves into being a little bit of neither. It’s so strange to think that these Rockets have snuck into the playoffs. I have a $100-to-$1 bet with my friend that the Warriors beat them in the first round, and I still feel like I might have cheated him on odds. But then, Nate Silver’s overly-ambitious website has the Warriors with a 95% chance to make it out of the first round, so maybe I accepted too much tail risk after all. But doesn’t it feel like a 100000% chance the Warriors advance past the first round, Harden and all?

In that vein, does anyone think the Warriors only have a 42% chance to win a championship? Nate seems impossibly low on a 73-9 team. Off pure emotions, I would put the Warriors at 75%, the Spurs at 25%, and, most notably, the Cavaliers at 0% to win it all.

So while the play was amusing in the moment, I suppose it was slightly forgettable. As so many things are.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3/4 Shaqs

-100 Boban MARJANOVIC As Shaq GROWLS on-air for fifteen Dionysian seconds, Popovich looks on with the blank Apollonian stare of a man all-too-aware that he will never coach another Tim Duncan. No one interrupts either figure’s tragic encounter with the Other, and it is in this moment that the deepest of disappointments descends. The world cannot end with a bang, nor with a whimper, but rather the orchestral gnashing of teeth and silent gawks of men as they view the collapse of Babel’s Tower, one from upwind, one from down.

Finally, Shaq stops yelling, and Brent throws in an “Oh… Man.” I have to say, it’s a tremendous improvement over last week.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 3.5/4 Shaqs

-100 All PISTONS FANS At first blush, this is a douchey move that holds up the game. The fan behind him shows his vicarious appreciation with a hearty backslap. But notice the love this v-necked, wristband-wearing idiot receives from Devin Harris, the inbounder he has just delayed.

It’s a bit unexpected, as Reggie Jackson’s reaction shows. But really, we are no strangers to seeing fans compete against each other to shoot baskets for meager corporate-subsidized prizes during TV timeouts. (Can’t have a TV timeout without also advertising to the schmucks who paid!) And at halftime, when children’s teams come on to play quick five-minute games, we are all there cheering them on to make a bucket — any bucket! (But they only shoot threes.)

Really, the only basketball act that seems to cheapen the experience of being at an NBA game is watching the trampoline dunk teams. For a brief transfiguring instant in time they assume a superhuman position above our wildest dreams of what is possible. But we can never truly forget the deceptive presence of the trampoline, and so these insane feats always come pre-packaged with an asterisk, and thus the self-assured confidence that, if we just renewed our gym memberships and maybe took up yoga and eating a bit better for a few months, we could easily do the same.

So let’s return to the original act, from the eyes of Devin Harris. Not only does he get a momentary breather from the game, but his mediocre outside shooting (career 32.4% from three) is vindicated by having some club-happy, martini-sipping douchebag clad in all black miss by a mile. Basketball is hard, this fucking cretinous amateur reminds us: it is a deeply-practiced craft, not a hobby. We can only hope to master basketball in the blink of an eye — darkened gyms, long hours — before so-called “old age” (a technologically-assisted 35 or 40 years?) finally catches up to us.

That’s why the NBA is now encouraging fans to bring thousands of their own basketballs to shoot during every break in action.

And once again, Shaq has finished with his weakest clip.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 1.5/4 Shaqs

FUCK
-100 Cleveland CAVALIERS Bed bugs. League CURSE

Thanks for reading. We’ll email you the time and link of our upcoming LIVE end-of-season casting, where we’ll be interviewing our league champion, running down the lottery odds, actually holding the lottery, and keeping strictly on-topic. Cheers.

The Commissioner

THE PLAYOFFS: ROUND 1 IN REVIEW

Guys, I’ve had a long week, and haven’t been as active with the League as I’d like. So this is a combination of two weeks’ worth of scoring adjustments, plus the final League Curse that we forgot about. It will be retroactively applied, starting the second week of Round 1.

Let’s get started not with a bang, but a whisper. Namely, Lisa Leslie whispering responses back as Shaq’s jokes fall on deafer-than-usual ears.

I have never seen a quality Shaqtin without the real crew. So strap in for the worst fucking time of your life!

Let’s dive in!!!!!!!!!!!

SHAQ
-100 Kendrick PERKINS The Legend Himself returns here with a quality series of unfortunate events. I’d like to take a moment to absolve Luke Babbitt of any blame, as (1) he didn’t miss the free throw, and (2) Kendrick Perkins doesn’t have hands.

A signature blunder by a Shaqtin a Fool great should be a slam-dunk clip, with at least a 3.5 Shaqtin rating! But when everyone laughs instead of…talking, Shaq is forced to repeat “Which way did it go?” five times. This is a failure to broadcast effectively.

I have no idea what Lisa Leslie whispers in-between segments. Please email me if you do.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 James HARDEN After Shaq correctly pronounces the word “phenomenal,” we are witness to a quality error by Harden. There are real shades of the classic Otto Porter fuck-up that won Shaqtin that one year!

But while the play itself is strong, it’s all a bit too predictable by now. Shaq thinks Harden is a bitch, and I’m starting to feel like I’ve seen too many of these already.

I have to dock it an additional point as, once again, Shaq’s three co-hosts devolve into undecipherable mumbling and semi-syntantic repetition (“Ball to man! Ball to man!”) Would be a 2.5 normally.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 1.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Al JEFFERSON This is objectively a quality fuck-up by Al Jefferson. It even gets better under replay! The spinning, no-look pass is endearingly bizarre, but a heaviness fills my stomach as the fake studio laughter intensifies. These great clips (another 3.5!) are going to waste.

Lisa Leslie audibly restrains herself from saying “What the hell?” By the way, the normal crew says hell and damn all the time.

“Go to your spot, Jeremy!” really sounds desperate from Shaq. The segment is crumbling, and it’s not his fault!

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Lance STEPHENSON I love this play. I thought about giving it a 4, but it’s so hard to be objective here. Faced with the possibility of on-air silence, Shaq repeats “TRAGIC BRONSON ALERT” 5 times, and “I repeat” 3 times.

And yet, the botched crossover, attempted hustle, and stumbling crawl behind half court — where, contrary to the insistence of some asshole (“He got it”: 3x), Lance could not have legally re-established possession  — is a perfect synecdoche for his entire career. He was born ready, for high school basketball in New York. A true living tragedy.

I just can’t de-couple this one from its abysmal on-set context. It’s a 3.5 for me, which means a 2.5 given Shaq’s awful fake crew.

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 Kyle LOWRY I don’t think this is a real Shaqtin, as Kyle Lowry shows a moment of raw emotion for the game of basketball that vastly exceeds anything we ever got out of Shaq.

But the flinch was good, and the bit was so short (7 seconds) that the crew couldn’t ruin it for me any further! Yay!!

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2/4 Shaqs

-100 Kevin SERAPHIN This one is baffling to me. It’s not Kevin’s fault that the kid is an oblivious moron who moves unavoidably into his way. That would 100% be a blocking foul.

And yet…I do enjoy violence against small children. The crew even enhances the impact with their enthusiastic groans! Way to go guys!!! You’re really getting it?

Overall Shaqtin rating: 2.5/4 Shaqs

-100 DeMarcus COUSINS ????????

I don’t think anything really happened here. The crew certainly didn’t have any jokes. Why can’t Shaq end these in a satisfying way?

Overall Shaqtin rating: 0/4 Shaqs

MISC
-20 Matt BARNES Big fight Suspended 1 game.
-15 Greivis VASQUEZ Big fight Fined $15,000.
-10 Giannis ANTETOKOUMPO Big fight Fined $10,000.
-10 Greg MONROE Big fight Fined $10,000.
-20 Blake GRIFFIN Fisticuffs Suspended 1st of 4 games.
FUCK
-100 Phoenix SUNS Chuck. League CURSE

It’s time to get a new Curse, though, for the second week of Round 1, and the remainder of our 2015-16 journey. Here are your nominees for League Curse:

FUCK
6 losses Cleveland CAVALIERS Bed Bugs:

A lot of weird things are happening in Cleveland these days, so I’m going to try to clear the air by asking a series of questions.

Are bed bugs real?

Was Kyrie Irving the only one on his team to get bed bugs? Why didn’t he switch rooms with Dellallvelveledova, no one likes him.

Why did he notice he was getting bit, but not get out of bed? This is his real story about that night.

Kyrie says he counted five bed bugs. Why was he counting them? I would try to leave.

Who booked the hotel?

Do bed bugs really give you “flu-like symptoms”? Or was he nauseated afterwards because he’s a little bitch?

I didn’t know Hilton Hotels were 4 stars. But this one was.

Sorry that wasn’t a question.

Are those 4 Oklahoma City hotel stars, or 4 hotel stars? What’s a 1 hotel star hotel like?

Who booked the fucking hotel?

 

I don’t know what happened, but I bet this doesn’t happen for any other team, like the Miami Heat.

Oh. Never mind.

11 losses Brooklyn NETS Markel Brown:

Usually we try to punish institutional failures rather than personal faults with League Curses, but when Markel Brown said this quote, I felt like I stepped into a time machine. I came out on the other side in the acne-ridden year of 2008, when I still thought Will Ferrell was kind of funny. The movie Semi-Pro, which I’ve never seen, was just released, and

Oh fuck I messed up I’m thinking of Anchorman.

In this movie, circa 2004, someone says “60% of the time, it works every time.” It’s not Ron Burgundy, but it’s one of the other people who doesn’t matter. Did you know the sequel got better reviews than the original? That’s weird because they both fucking suck.

Anyway, thinking of Anchorman reminded me of Semi-Pro reminded me of a simpler time, before the development of statistical science. And why was I thinking of Anchorman?

“I feel like every shot I shoot is going to go in – at least 50% of the time.”

Thanks for the memories, Markel. By the way, you’re shooting 37% on the year.

6 losses Cleveland CAVALIERS Social Media:

I have always been vocal in my distaste for social media. I think things like Facebook and Twitter should only be used for annoying or ignoring other people, not for curating news or inspiring others. Actually, I don’t think they should be used at all.

But LeBron unliked the Cavaliers on Instagram or Twitter or both, and then re-liked it a couple days later, but you know that was on purpose because you have to hit a button, and meanwhile he ignored people asking about it. And he definitely knows about mute or whatever because he has millions of followers. I’d have guessed there’d be a mute function and I have like ten. But then LeBron tweeted a bunch of weird things and he also still likes hanging out with Dwyane Wade and is openly fantasizing about creating a Super Team with Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony and D Wade who, notably, are not Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. And then guys like J.R. have to be cool about it like “that’s a cool team, I hope I’m invited. You know, because I’m LeBron’s teammate every day right now.”

So I guess I just wish that LeBron would try to to fit in instead of out or whatever #TheLand #IPromise #StriveForGreatness #CancerSucks

And yes the #CancerSucks is a real hashtag he used, but I think making it a hashtag is kind of cheaply demeaning. Like, where are the cancer fans?

I think I’ve said enough about social media.

9 losses Houston ROCKETS Stickum:

No one can agree on how to spell this, so I’m going with Stickum. I’ve seen Stickam and Stickem and Stick Em, even in the same article. It’s weird because it’s a real product-name-turned-name-of-the-product-line-for-all-its-competitors-too, sort of like Kleenex, our presenting sponsor today. Remember to only touch yourself with the best: Kleenex-brand tissues.

Anyway, I think everyone is confused why you would want Stickum in basketball, and why Dwight Howard would just readily admit to using it for years, as though that would make things better. But Dwight Howard is a real-life Game of Throne character. He’s a cheater, turncoat, homophobe, and has a zillion bastard children. Sorry I only read the first two books, but that’s probably close enough.

He also wants the NBA to add a cross to its logo. Dwight Howard is an idiot who would blend seamlessly into a 9th-century feudalist society. He is so hopelessly behind his time that I don’t ask his brain to make sense anymore. In fact, I’m done thinking about Dwight Howard for the month.

9 wins Boston CELTICS BLESSING: Evan Turner

Oh yeah, since we’ve already broken our no-individual-players rule, Mike and I wanted to BLESS the Boston Celtics for giving us Evan Turner. He seems like a cool, relatively normal guy who sometimes says funny shit. Thanks, Evan!

And the League Curse goes to:

Drumroll please

The Bed Bugs have it! It’s your Cleveland Cavaliers, owned by nobody!

Congrats everyone, and good (or bad) luck in the rest of the playoffs.