The Reason For The Season
Tonight is Christmas Eve, the time when families all over America get cozy beside the yule log and watch their favorite Christmas specials and movies on their giant flat-screen televisions. It's a tradition as old as high definition itself. But if you're a Jew like us, you spend this holiday producing entertainment rather than consuming it.
This holiday season, the NBA has gotten into the Christmas spirit by creating their own specials for the most joyous night of the year, with helps from The Works, of course. So tell your grandpa to stop telling stories and check out these previews of tonight's best offerings. And hey, don't hog all that figgy pudding!
A Very Special Tom Tolbert Christmas: The former NBA journeyman NBA and current television personality welcomes you into his bro palace to revel in some holiday cheer. Armed with enough Four Loko to kill a pony and the latest in Santa fashion from Ed Hardy, Tolbert and pals DJ Rony Seikaly and Jud Buechler give tips and hints on how to have the most brotastic holiday season around. Tolbert starts by demonstrating proper dye technique on your soul patch to give it that extra red/green Christmas oomph. Seikaly follows by dropping the best house remixes of "O Holy Night" and "Jingle Bells," while Buechler and special guest Mystery set you straight on how to pick up your lady coworkers at your office's holiday party.
But even the biggest bros know that the holidays aren't only about scoring chicks. Tolbert's visit to the University of Arizona will bring tears to your eyes as he helps underage college students get fake IDs. Because the true meaning of Christmas is helping those less fortunate than you get totally wrecked. It all ends with a trip to the local mall, where Tolbert visits his former employers for a special Christmas edition of Slamball. If you didn't think America's hottest new sport could get any hotter, think again: this time, the athletes will mount reindeer on the trampoline battlefield. Santa's not the only one who can fly! (EF)
A Very Special Ekpe Udoh Christmas: Warriors rookie Ekpe Udoh has to host Christmas dinner as part of his hazing. He's really nervous about everything being just right, since with this team -- wracked by chemistry issues last season, and still getting over the collective trauma that was life under late-period Don Nelson -- anything could happen. Udoh spends hours making a seating chart, only to have it ripped to pieces and blown away by a freak tornado. He then gets a tree delivered, which falls on him, brusing his body and sticking his arms with pine needles. Thankfully, a turtleneck spares him any serious injury. He starts to wrap the presents he has bought for everyone, but gets tangled up in wrapping paper and ribbon and ends up rolling on the ground trying to extract himself. The presents are crushed.
Udoh next tries to make a turkey, but accidentally burns his house down. He is left standing, alone and funny, in the smoldering wreckage. The guests are about to arrive, and then at the worst possible time, Nellie shows up; Udoh is able to subdue him and hide the former coach in a dumpster, then place orange traffic cones all around it. Seconds later, the team and Coach Keith Smart arrives. Udoh apologizes profusely, and they're forced to get Chinese take-out and eat at a picnic table overlooking the city. Good thing Udoh brought a red-and-white checkered table cloth with him -- and manages to save it from a giant seagull that has followed them to the park. They have a great time, grow closer than ever, and learn the real meaning of Christmas. (BS)
A Very Special Jerry Sloan Christmas: It's Christmas in the Sloan household, but a snowstorm in Salt Lake City has blocked the entire driveway and put the family's holiday party into question. How will they ever clear the way and welcome all of the cantankerous coach's friends into their humble home?
At first, Sloan falls into deep depression as he wonders whether or not his Jazz players will make it in time for his traditional Christmas round of suicide lines and tape study. In flashback, we see a Sloan Christmas of old, in which the young Jerry (played by Matt Harpring) teaches Norm Van Lier proper technique to elbow an opposing player in the head. As Sloan tells Van Lier, Jesus taught us that the meek shall inherit the Earth, but there's no sense in waiting for it, even on His birthday. Despondent over the snowstorm, the elder Sloan decides to take a nap, during which he has a terrible dream in which he's chased by an army of horrifying clowns, as rendered by Rankin/Bass-style stop-motion animation. How will he escape?!
Thankfully, Sloan is awoken by a knock at the door. Why, it's Jazz legend Karl Malone, who mistakenly happened upon the Sloan home while hunting deer in the woods! When Sloan tells the Mailman about his troubles, Karl kindly reminds his former coach of the wonderful lesson he taught him all those years ago. Christmas, you see, is not about shared traditions or even joy, but the glory of hard work. Soon after, Malone and Sloan clear the driveway with 35-year-old snow shovels. Not quite done, the Jazz bus pulls up with Deron Williams and Paul Millsap sporting their brightest smiles. Sloan, ever the pragmatist, quickly tells them to get to work and finish the job, this time with soup spoons instead of shovels. It's a Christmas miracle! (EF)
A Very Special Pietrus Christmas: The holiday season is not always a happy time. In a new city with few friends and separated from his dear J.J. Redick, the normally chipper Mickael Pietrus finds himself sitting alone at home with a bottle of wine and Bing Crosby standards on the stereo. As he pines for his old home, Pietrus imagines what Christmas might have been had he never been traded to the Phoenix Suns.
The picture starts out pretty: Dwight Howard sings, Stan Van Gundy dresses as Santa, and Ryan Anderson tells a ghost story, thinking it's Halloween. Everyone wants Pietrus to tell his favorite dirty joke about the elves and the first toy truck they ever made, but this request helps Mickael realize that while the Magic are a riot, his role as class clown isn't helping him grow as a person and teammate. As he comes back to reality in Phoenix, Pietrus thinks that maybe his new home has its fair share of fun. But wait, who's that at the door? Why, it's Steve Nash and all his furry squirrel friends here to teach Mickael and all the children in the audience about the importance of recycling your Christmas trees! And just when Pietrus thinks the day couldn't get any better, J.J. calls him up on FaceTime -- the special is sponsored by the iPhone 4 -- to wish him a great day in his new home. It turns out the real meaning of Christmas is that home is always just a phone call away, even when you're thousands of miles from loved ones. (EF)
A Very Special Lopez Christmas: It's Christmas at the Lopez household, which happens to be in what appears to be a giant tree house. Robin and the rest of the Lopez brood are sitting around, getting excited about the holiday and ready for the festivities to begin. The only problem is that Brook isn't there yet. He's in outer space with Han Solo. There's also some thing about Storm Troopers ruining Christmas. Oh wait ... (BS)
A Very Special Omri Casspi Christmas: Our story begins with a staged "Very Special Dwight Howard Christmas", a variety show where the Defensive Player of the Year and consummate showman sings his favorite carols and lets elves dunk over him. Halfway through, Casspi bum rushes the stage and demands Howard acknowledge Hanukkah, which already happened but is sort of like Christmas. Amar'e Stoudemire, also in tow, mumbles something about "the original culture", and Jordan Farmar loudly bounces a basketball to hammer home the point. The lights go down, and a screen comes down with a Power Point presentation already warmed up and ready to go. They break out the basic facts, much as my mother had to do every holiday season at my elementary school, and then a giant, diamond-encrusted dreidel is lowered onto the stage and starts spinning.
It makes its way into the wings, where it falls into a hole belonging to some claymation dinosaurs, who are for some reason already hanging decorations for the Festival of Lights (even though it already happened). They open it up and find it filled with chocolate gelt, which they unwrap with their beaks better than humans can with their fingers. Then flash back to Howard, who is clearly annoyed, and also confused. He makes an uncomfortable joke about thinking dinosaurs were extinct, after which Casspi, Amar'e, and Farmar exit the stage to a Kirk Franklin version of "Hava Negila." (BS)
A Very Special Clippers Christmas: The Clippers decide to get together to celebrate their promising first half. Their record may not show it, but this is one of the league's most dynamic, spirited young teams, and certainly one with a lot to look forward to. Whenever any at the party starts to doubt this, Blake Griffin jumps up and down a few times and everybody applauds. For an encore, DeAndre Jordan does that thing where he flushes two toilets, in separate bathrooms, at the same time. Everyone is having a good time at Baron Davis's mansion, riding on the bumper cars and playing the life-sized Simon Says. Then, there comes an ominous rapping on the front door.
The team all look at each other, wondering who it could possibly be. Without waiting for an answer, Donald Sterling busts in and reminds Baron that he's not paying for the spread. Then he starts muttering about "getting what he's due", and busies himself with looking in drawers, under cushions, and in DVD cases for spare change or bills. He recruits some little kids to help him in his efforts, promising "a cut of the haul." One of the kids stabs Sterling in the leg with a plastic fork, and as the Other Donald shrieks, Griffin does one of his patented spin moves and tosses Sterling out into driveway. All the players high-five and say, in unison, "guaranteed contracts, motherf*****r" and Sterling is whisked away by a helicopter that keeps running out of gas. The night ends with Eric Bledsoe doing a touching rendition of "Silent Night", under a lone spotlight. That, my friends, is the real meaning of Christmas. (BS)
A Very Special Spencer Hawes Christmas: It's Christmas in the City of Brotherly Love, but something is itching Spencer's craw. There are trees all over the country and holiday sales all around, but no one is allowed to say "Merry Christmas" anymore! The Evil Lord PC has instituted a ban on religion all throughout Philadelphia, even for the most popular holiday there is. What's a good member of the moral majority to do? Should he send carolers into every neighborhood? Does he need a guerrilla marketing campaign to remind people of the glory of Jesus Christ? Everyone is low on money due to the poor economy, and there are few people who feel comfortable speaking up due to government regulation. In a thrilling montage, Hawes uses his trusty chalkboard and puppet shows to brainstorm some great ideas for reform.
Finally, he comes upon the perfect solution. By spending as much money as possible in chain stores around the city, Spencer can reinvigorate the economy and show those darn government bureaucrats that it comes from our power to make great products and provide useful services, which only comes from our blessed capitalist system. Buying things helps money trickle down and starts the circle of money (and life) that makes this country what it is. The real war on Christmas isn't won in the streets, but at our nation's storefront, where we exercise our freedom to purchase anything we want. Out of one sale, many flourish. (EF)
The House of Amar'e
This Wednesday, it was announced that Amar'e Stoudemire will team up with fashion designer Rachel Roy to create a new clothing line. Blessed with a keen fashion sense and the heart of New York, Stoudemire will now try to conquer another defining interest of his new city. Yesterday, Shoals and Freeman spoke with "AA", a woman, to discuss where Stoudemire and Roy might take fashion and whether or not this is a good move for Amar'e's career.
AA: Rachel Roy has attended several All-Star weekends. She has also done several capsule collections with celebrities.
Eric Freeman: Which ones?
AA: Estelle, Jessica Stam.
EF: Estelle Getty?
AA: No, the singer
Bethlehem Shoals: That's a shame.
AA: Have you seen this?
EF: Do we know if Wintour invited him out of the blue, or did he approach her after watching "The September Issue"? Or maybe "The Devil Wears Prada"?
AA: Rachel Roy was bitchy as a judge on "Project Runway," so she will say "no way" when Amar'e proposes sasquatch print pants.
BS: Like, with the texture of sasquatch fur, or lots of little sasquatches? It's a crucial distinction.
EF: I like to think of it as the pants that the old Sonics mascot Squatch wore.
AA: Either way it's a no-go.
EF: What about a "Knowing Is Knowledge" collection where the fabric is old encyclopedia entries?
BS: I think we're underestimating how much more classically fashionable Amar'e has gotten since he came to New York. No more wallet chains and distressed jeans with blazers. In a way, he's not exactly upholding the great Knicks style tradition.
AA: Well, Rachel Roy's clothes are slightly boring. That is her thing -- slightly boring clothes.
BS: So basically, this is Amar'e getting less, not more, interesting?
AA: This is the wackiest look from her 2011 Resort. And Resort is usually the wackiest of seasons. Maybe Amare could start his own new season: Resort Resort.
BS: That's like Shirt before the Shirt. Or Play within a Play. Here's the issue: Amar'e is definitely someone who wants to appear ... something. But it's hard to tell if that something is weird, or just savvy.
AA: Maybe some jazzy glasses?
EF: Like jazzy goggles for when he plays or off-court glasses?
BS: I don't think a line of couture basketball gear is going to do very well.
EF: Dwyane Wade would probably wear it.
AA: Dwyane Wayne would probably wear it
BS: Actually, that's what I keep thinking of. Wade's look, which is like Fonzworth Bentley in "The Road Warrior", is what I imagine this ending up like. But Amar'e seems a lot more like someone who would have a line of clothes than Wade.
AA: Oh wait, this is part of Roy's Macy's line. This means it will be fairly bland but still a bit tacky.
EF: Still Amar'e will still be able to say he collaborated on a fashion line. Could he just be trying to align himself with New York in the easiest way possible?
BS: It plays outside of New York. But in New York ... THEY WILL ALL KNOW.
EF: Well, maybe it's enough to have it play outside of New York. It's like he's showing the world he has found a home.
AA: Wait, it looks like it will be ladies fashion.
EF: Weird, I would have suspected Steve Nash as more of a women's fashion guy.
BS: Maybe because he makes babies with a model?
AA: I could see a Steve Nash women's line for Teva.
BS: You have lived in Seattle too long. Get your mind out of the gutter.
AA: Dude is from British Columbia. Vancouver's two main clothing exports are Luluemon yoga pants and Cowichan sweaters.
BS: All I can imagine Nash selling is a fair trade wool Steve Nash suit.
EF: I never said it would be good fashion. Just some more fashionably-cut North Face pull-overs.
AA: Maybe Amar'e is doing this as some sort of therapy to envision women in a more positive light.
BS: He wrote a whole unpublished book of poetry about how hard black woman have it. He is very pro-woman. Maybe that's why he wanted to do this. Attaching his name to a line of affordable women's clothes shows that he supports them in everything they do. So it's all pantsuits!
EF: Hey, women like to relax, too.
BS: I think if nothing else, there could be a great ad, with Amar'e doing the voice-over. I said that earlier as a joke, but now I mean it. And he does, too.
The Works is a daily column written by Bethlehem Shoals (@freedarko) and Eric Freeman (@freemaneric), who also contributes regularly to Ball Don't Lie. Their Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History is now available.