9 min read

Dear Rookie/Sophomore diary…

Who doesn’t love the Rookie Challenge, huh? Well, probably lots of people and I can guarantee I probably wouldn’t be watching if it weren’t for one-fourth of the Thunder roster participating. I’d likely be at Harkins getting ready to see Friday the 13th and being super pissed at my buddy Andy for making me see it with him. I think this will be better. But I can’t guarantee that.

7:51 p.m. CST: What is the draw of the celebrity basketball game? Seriously, someone help me here. It’s basically just two hours of total awkwardness. Unathletic people playing against old former players that run like they should be in a Saturday morning church league. Then someone airballs, throws his arms up making a face, does a little dance and everybody fake laughs hysterically. It’s awful. And yet I am watching… (sigh)

8:07: Here’s our opening with Dwayne Wade dressed like Urkel, actually looking more like Stefan Urquelle. Him and Dwight Howard are the assistant coaches and evidently the MCs for the starting lineups. Are there like 2,000 high school girls in the arena or is that a girlish yell track they are playing for everyone? What’s the deal with the high pitched screaming? And Howard gave Kevin Durant extra special treatment with a “You know who he is… KEVINNNN DUUUUURRRRANNNNTTTT!!!!!” Thanks Dwight. I’m sure Jeff Green appreciated the, “Oh, also from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jeff Green.” Don’t worry, he’s used to it.

8:11: Our announcers are Kevin “NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE!” Harlan, LeBron James and Kenny Smith. LeBron tells us that KD’s natural position is the two-guard because Jeff Green is playing the three. Either Bron didn’t get the news that P.J. Carlesimo got canned or didn’t realize Durant was guarding him the last time they played. Whatever.

8:14: Craig Sagar with KD: “I’m honored and I’m blessed to be here.” And the whole time a monster smile on his face. Man I love Kevin Durant.

8:23: I wish real basketball was played like this. Catch it. Shoot it. Catch it. Shoot it. If Mike D’Antoni coined the “Seven Seconds or Less” offense, this is like two seconds or less. I think Eric Gordon might score 200 points. He has one of the sweetest jumpers I’ve ever seen. I actually think I’d pay the price of an NBA ticket just to go to Clipper shootarounds to watch him stroke jays. Kyle Weaver, get out a pen and piece of paper and take notes on that thing.

8:28: Having LeBron as an announcer is awesome. Basically this is going to be just two hours of Kenny Smith asking Bron questions that we want answers to. “Where would you have gone to college?” Either Ohio State or North Carolina. “Why don’t you do the dunk contest?” Because, I’ve been “injured” and I can’t think of dunks before hand. Riiiight….

8:30: Ouch Russell. Ouch. That makes two layups missed. Just pack the thing Russ. Pack it like you’re from Green Bay (OK, that was bad).

8:33: Quick thought on the uniforms (because for some reason, I care about these things): They are weird. They let some kid design them and it looks like Affliction is trying out a basketball line. All the graphics and colors are just too much for me. And Russell Westbrook’s jersey is too big because his number is tucked into his shorts. He looks like my friend Colin when we played little league and an extra small shirt touched his ankles. We’ve got guys running around with numbers on their butts. Great design there… whoever designed those.

8:35: Did that animated Star Wars movie set the record for “fastest film to ever go from the theater to cable television”? Wasn’t it in theaters like two months ago? I never saw it but it was one of those that I kept saying, “Eh, I’ll wait. I’ll Redbox it.” But for the first time in history, I think this one made it to TV before it made it to Redbox. Bravo George Lucas. Brav-o.

8:37: They mic’d up Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade as they walked around and “coached.” I freaking love it when athletes are mic’d up. The NFL Network has this show called “Live Wire” where players and coaches were mic’d up all season. It’s probably the best one hour of television I’ve ever watched. I DVR’d it and have watched it maybe 14 times already. ESPN really needs to consider mic’ing up every “B” level sport they broadcast. Cheerleading, poker, spelling bee, Scrabble. I’d watch it. I have no idea why, but I’d watch it.

8:43: Russell Westbrook just threw down right in front of KD and then yelled at him and then ran down the court smiling and laughing like he was six years old and it was Christmas morning. Reason No. 2,562 that I love the Thunder’s young core: They love basketball and they have fun playing it. I know a lot of other guys do that stuff too, but these guys really do. But Russell then blew another layup on a break, leaving it short on the front of the rim. Just flush it Russ. Flush it. Then run down the court laughing and smiling and make me love you even more.

8:48: Derrick Rose just made a free throw and the contingency of 12-year-old girls just erupted with ear piercing screams. A free throw? I wonder how far they can take this. What would be the lowest they could go on the screaming? A coach calling timeout? A traveling violation? An injury? At this point, I don’t think anything is out of the question.

8:53: You can put Greg Oden in the group of people whose voices do not sound like what you expect them to. It’s not a weird voice, but with that face, you’d expect a deep, James Earl Jones baritone or something. Other charter members of this group: Mike Tyson, Earl Watson, Stewie Griffin, David Beckham, Serena Williams, Amadeus, Darth Vader without his mask and Kevin Harlan.

8:56: Bron just said “at my household we call him Uncle Jeff,” in referring to Jeff Green and his game. His reasoning? Because he is an intangible guy that posts you up and bruises you in the blocks like an old guy at the Y. Thanks?

9:03: Green just added to the “Uncle Jeff” nickname by banking in a three at the buzzer with one knee up. Lebron James is nodding.

9:12: TNT just flashed a side-by-side graphic showing Dwayne Wade and Steve Urkel. Did I not nail that? DID I NOT NAIL THAT?

9:23: Pau Gasol and Kenny Smith just said “banging” about six times in five seconds. I’m not touching that.

9:25: Interesting theory by Gasol about why Euro players may have a better concept of team basketball. He says because they aren’t so athletic and so they have to adapt and do better at other things in order to compete with superior athletes. He’s probably right. At every level in this country, the best and most athletic player on the floor gets the ball most and shoots most. That player can get by most times bases on the fact that he’s either bigger, faster or stronger than everyone else. Euro players don’t have that luxary against American players. They have to pass, screen and do little things to compete. Interesting thought Pau.

9:32: Thank you Aaron Brooks for blowing an assist for KD. But at this point, Durant has 26 on 11-14 shooting and as Kenny Smith said, nobody is probably taking this more seriously than KD. Which is just one more reason that I love him. Doesn’t matter if it’s a pick-up game, a game of checkers or HORSE on a Nerf goal. He’s going to compete and try to beat you. I like having him on my team.

9:40: Durant just hit a three, then hit another three then grabbed a board and led a fast break and dished a beautiful pass to Al Thornton for a layup then came down the floor and hit another three. He now has 35 on 14-19 shooting. He is good at basketball.

9:46: You know, GEICO commercials sure have gone down hill the last four or five years. I blame the economy and George W. Bush. They used to be clever and funny but now they just toss the

Gasol Brothers

Cave Men out there in different situations or have that dopey lizard with the British accent talk about how much I can save if I switch to GEICO. Whatever happened to the funny stuff? We need Barack Obama to fix this.

9:50: After watching KD tonight, how could anyone bet against him for HORSE? He’s 4-5 from downtown and he has that look of a guy that once he heats up, he’s just not missing. He could pull up from the other free throw line and that thing is hitting the bottom of the net. Durant’s best strategy may just be spot up from the top of the key and knock jumper after jumper. He now has the record for points in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge with 37. But no, he’s not an All-Star. No way.

9:56: You know, this has actually been a really well played game. In the past a lot of people have complained about these young guys trying too much razzle-dazzle and the game being sloppy. But honestly, this thing has just been played like the most awesome pick-up game ever. It’s the pick-up game where you walk into the gym and see the type of players that are WAY over your head playing and you immediately go change into your jeans because you know there’s no way you’re playing against those guys.

10:01: I don’t think there is anyone in the game that looks up at the Jumbotron more than Kevin Durant. I don’t know if he’s looking at stats, the score or the time, but he peeks up there about once every whistle. But if I was scoring 30 points in my sleep, I’d be looking up there all the time to see 3-0 by name too.

10:04: I totally realize that the defense is a little, let’s say, lackluster, but some of these guys ought to play a little bit like this in actual games. Michael Beasley has had a bit of a disappointing rookie season, but he should let loose and take more step-back jumpers and showcase his awesome offensive game more. But that’s just me.

10:06: KEVIN DURANT WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE! Heavens he is ridiculous. I probably say some form of that sentence about once a day, but holy crap in a basket, KD is just unreal. He’s got 46 on the night and 30 in the second half. Too bad this doesn’t count toward his actual career point total or he’d be real close – as in two points close – to tying LeBron for second fastest ever to 3,000 points.

10:12: And that’s your ballgame folks! The sophs take it 122-116 behind KD’s 46 points. You definitely know who he is… KEVINNNN DURRRRAAANNNTTT!!! Something we are quickly learning about Kid Delicious – don’t put a chip on his shoulder. He’s that type of guy that if you give him more incentive, he will make you pay. Didn’t take me No. 1 Portland? Here’s 31 points on your face. Oh, you don’t think I’m an All-Star? Watch me drop 46 in the Rookie game. Some people are wired that way. Me, when somebody called me out or “disrespected” me, I always pressed way too hard and ended up taking stupid shots and turning it over all the time. But guys like Durant use it and take their already awesome game to another level. Among about 987 other things, that’s why Kevin Durant is awesome.

10:17: And your MVP is… Luis Scola! I mean Kevin Durant. Along with his big point total, he also led the West with seven boards. The best part about it: Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green yucking it up behind him as he accepted his little glass trophy. Looks like RW is a really funny guy. I wonder if they were making fun of KD’s Allen Iverson sleeve or his awesome interview skills.

Now KD is off to HORSE the following night. Is anyone else worried about the Josh Hamilton All-Star-break-overworked-fatigue factor hitting Durant? After Hamilton belted 72 homers or whatever in the Derby, his production went waaay down in the second half and he even admitted that he was just worn out and a lot of it had to do with not getting a break. I hope that doesn’t happen to Durant. Please don’t let that happen to Durant. I really don’t think it will, but I’ve been thinking about it all night and I just had to get it out there.

I have no idea how good Friday the 13th is (and I hope to never find out, screw you Andy), but this was pretty darn entertaining. From Dwayne Wade’s Urkel costume to LeBron in the announcer booth to Kid Delicious scoring from anywhere and everywhere, I actually had a really good time watching this. Part of that might be because I would have a good time watching Kevin Durant clip his toenails, but regardless, this was good stuff. Except for the girlish screaming. Less of that next year, David Stern.