Monta will not be getting that gilded call up as an All-Star injury replacement, so he'll have to settle for second-best: Inclusion in some other corner of The Weekend's three-ring circus of overproduction and errant enthusiasm. Saturday night has become a chore, which leaves this H.O.R.S.E. thing -- new, unfamiliar, and with some vague retro/street cachet (an old NBA halftime feature that also takes it back to the schoolyard).
So it is with great honor that, without any authorization whatsoever, that I join forces with our friends at Ball Don't Lie and The Baseline to launch a "Put Monta Ellis in H.O.R.S.E." campaign. Modest as it may sound, it would be great for fans, great for Ellis's visibility, and situate him where he deserves to be in the solar system of the league. That's right, where the likes of Kevin Durant, O.J. Mayo, and Joe Johnson (take the mean of those three), sit proudly but restlessly.
Last year's crop of players carried a certain amount of hoops hipster cachet. These were guys on a collision course with stardom, but who remained either a season or a few more national games away from widespread acclaim. These three were also decidedly new blood. To me, at least, this accidental curation sent a message. You might say it's the event tailor-made for the interwebs, even if in practice, the competition had its dead spots.
Enough prattle, though. This isn't just about recognizing Monta, but also making our lives better as fans. Those other clips came from practice, but what about this demonic moment from the aforementioned Mavs/Dubs tilt:
It doesn't really matter if you think Monta Ellis is the perfect basketball player. If I mentioned him in the same sentence as Derrick Rose, someone would punch me. But he's a flat-out stud, one whose real value is difficult to judge in the context of a dead weight-laden roster coached by a distracted maniac. You really think that, if pressed into service for a team with a more even distribution of talent, and offered playmates who followed a common cause, Ellis would still be the same desperate player he is this season? A little coaching might be nice, too, as opposed to Don Nelson's abuse.
There are good scorers on bad teams, and then there are ridiculous performers and non-existent teams. Taking day-old bagels from a dumpster is understandable, but sketchy. Turning an empty dumpster into wine is worth celebrating even if it's not a viable long-term career. So stop bagging on Monta Ellis and let's give him some shine this weekend.
Or, to put it another way, that contest might need Ellis more than it needs him. It just doesn't know it yet, because it's a H.O.R.S.E. We should be better than that. We deserve better. H.O.R.S.E. MONTA, and please, someone ready the virtual t-shirt cannons (and the shirts themselves)!!!!
UPDATE: The call for an emblem has gone out on Twitter and this design has been belched forth. Where's Weems? brings the T-shirt glory. Monta looks dignified.