The holidays are fast approaching and no matter how much or little your religious views allow you to participate, the good people in marketing have ensured that you will at least have to buy some sort of gift for someone. In keeping with the commercialized and consumer-driven version of the Christmas holiday I grew up with, I’ve made a gift list for every member of the New Orleans Pelicans staff/roster. Can someone lob these up, so I can stuff them down hard in some stockings like our League Pass MVP on a break posterizing a yule log?”
The above quote is a ghost of column’s past. Today I realized that I’ve never gifted the Gentry-era Pelicans for the holiday brought to you by capitalism. I must have been so emotionally devastated by this team before Christmas 2015 rolled around that I just couldn’t bring myself to feel things. However, I was able to finish my Christmas shopping today, and I just left the best loss the Pelicans’ have ever lost and I feel that weird tingle of excitement, joy — and sadly —hope. While I know that hope will let me down like every cinematic representation of a trust fall — I feel good now so let’s go shopping.
Tyreke gets to return to the court in an arena where every empty seat is filled with cardboard cutouts of Travis and I so that he can feel all the love he deserves.
Stocking stuffer: A commissioning for a statue of Anthony Davis’ cleaning up a Kobe assist from a Tyreke miss (even his misses were good) on the front steps of the Smoothie King Center celebrating the Pelicans’ first playoff season to be unveiled at Anthony Davis’ retirement ceremony.
Jrue is getting the Sega Genesis Classic Game System with 80 games built in because I finally want to see him be able to play 80 games.
Stocking Stuffer: Truth serum to see if he has any intention of re-upping with the Pelicans.
A hot streak. If you’ve read my season preview, you already know that I was expecting a lot from E’Twaun. Preseason made my offseason excitement and expectations seem justified, and then he hurt his foot. He hasn’t been the same player since. He hasn’t been a dud, but he hasn’t really had that standout game, or really that standout stretch of games that I so desperately want because I’m counting on him to fill that Tyreke Evans sized hole that will surely be in my heart by the start of next season. I still believe he will get there once he’s fully healed, but when he does I want the streak to be so hot that the old couple that used to hold up signs at the Hornets games with puns so amazing Gil McGregor would delete his account would rise from the flames like Queens of Dragons holding a banner that reads, “E’T Phone Home.”
Stocking Stuffers: ‘Twaun, I have some tattoos I wish I could have a redo on — so I get it, but that “Family First” in the House Industries’ “Sign Painter” typeface needs some tweaking. Not hating on the sentiment, just questioning the execution. Here’s a laser removal treatment and a gift card to Downtown Tattoos. I’m also throwing in a redo on his player animation from NBA 2K17 — I’m killing it from three with you, but they have you looking like a black Bobby Hill.
Omer gets an apology, here it goes:
I completely wrote you off this season, and while I do hate that you make $9 million a year for 17 minutes a game and now a DNP (irrational trade fantasies) — you are playing well above what your 11 PER says you are. You are catching passes that I never thought you were capable of — I even remember one one-handed snag that shook me out of my seat. Your hands are no longer that regenerating baby hand on Deadpool — they are kind of athlete hands. Your feet look nimble below your lumbering stiff legs. You are setting screens. Your rebounding rate is 18%. And most amazingly, you have given us these Air Asik moments:
I’m sorry that I called your preseason play “a mirage.” I am now outside your window holding up a bluetooth speaker playing my soul-infused with some ‘90s emoboy, “I’m Sorry Songs” playlist in an ultrapathetic reinactment of the boombox Say Anything scene.
Ok, now here’s the small print that he’ll never read:
I still hope we find a trade partner, but you aren’t terrible. Sorry about that, but please find a new home better suited for your play style.
Stocking Stuffer: An Asik Air jumpman logo on a signature shoe. Sorry that it looks like my grandmother taking a shit, but….
It’s always hard to find a gift for the the guy that is the reason for the basketball season. However, while I love AD’s passion and effort on the court, his willingness to throw himself into the stands to get a loose ball even in preseason or in the opening minutes of a game scares me to death. It seems that every 20 games or so we see him diving into the crowd like he’s at a bro-centric music festival while popcorn, cotton candy and $20 worth of beer backwash explode into the air — like when word art explodes on used car lot commercials. It’s exciting, but it’s panic inducing as he usually comes up gimpy resulting in missed time. Therefore, he gets an electric fence dog collar that gives him a little shock when he’s racing to the baller seats, or Morris Bart country.
Stocking stuffer: A Kentucky alumni trade block gift card for him to choose one ex-Wildcat who is in trade rumors — Cousins, Wall or Bledsoe — to add to this roster in a 2K roster editor CBA loophole move that requires nothing further than creating the open roster spot.
I’m installing a slight gradient slope to the Smoothie King Center court that shifts each half so that Solomon is always running down hill on offense. Hill is really good when driving — even if it is a leisurely ride through the countryside. He finishes well around the rim, and he has very good vision when driving, which he uses to set up others with great shots. Basically, his contract looks less shit when it is rolling down hill. I still like this signing — I agree it was probably for too much money — but I believe in Hill growing into a very serviceable wing/small ball four for the Pelicans. It can all evolve off of him pushing it up in transition.
Stocking Stuffer: In my preview of Solomon Hill’s season I noted that the key to unlocking Hill’s offensive consistency is building his confidence. I’ve booked him one of those weird immersion experiences where he is kidnapped and forced into the role of the lion in the Wizard of Oz.
“You have plenty of courage, I am sure," answered Oz. "All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”
New Orleans is fast becoming Portland. With our city’s booming comedy scene surely some St. Claude Ave. crust comedy troupe full of transplants will get a Portlandia — dry — humped sketch comedy show greenlit by the USA Network. The execs will love that their production company’s name is, “I Bet I Can Tell You Where You Got Them Shoes Production Company LLC.” They’ll, “put a senseless act of violence on it.” They will declare that the French Quarter, the Marigny and the Bywater are all, “Over!!!”
One hipster comedian in this group is surely a basketball fan. He probably writes a blog. He probably approaches interviews differently — like by taking a player to play Laser Tag while he asks him about his 2K rating and what kind of hot dog he’d be if he was on the menu at Dat Dog. Anyway, this blogger is a big fan of Kentucky Basketball and thus Terrence Jones. The main thing he loves about Terrence Jones is his pump fake. Well, not really his pump fake, but more of the defense’s reaction to that pump fake. For being a career 30% shooter from deep (24% this season) his pump fake is as convincing as those, “Hey Girl Keep Running” Ryan Gosling memes.
The comedian creates a recurring sketch in which Terrence Jones does his normal daily routine, but fakes every action before performing it — pretends he is going to put a leash on his dog then puts the leash on his dog, pretends he’s going to put an apple in grocery basket then puts an apple in, and so on — after which the camera zooms in really tight on his face and he gives a big cheesy grin with a CGI sparkle on his teeth and a thumbs-up. A slogan pops up on the screen in baseball tee typeface — it says, “Keep Fakin’ It.” This is my gift to you, Terrence.
Stocking stuffers: Some of that pet spray to keep your pet off of the couch that is specially formulated to keep TJ off of the three point line and an EpiPen for his rebounding allergy.
2016 has proven that the world is a terrible place — we’ve lost Prince, Craig Sager, David Bowie, Blowfly, Abe Vigoda, Dave Mirra, Harper Lee, Phife Dawg, Gary Shandling, Merle Haggard, Will Smith, Joe McKnight and Leonard Cohen. Donald Trump is the president elect. Fox Sports keeps giving jobs to all of the personalities you hated. Then — speaking of sports personalities you hate — Stephen A. Smith did that dumb thing that people who get paid to talk about sports do and claimed that he had never even heard of Tim Frazier. He acted as if people needed to explain to him who Frazier was. Therefore, I am creating a new world — one in which people need to explain to Tim Frazier who Stephen A. Smith is and no good people die and snake oil salesmen aren’t given power.
Stocking stuffer: I love Tim’s continued relationship with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum so I’m giving them all the first ever three man signature shoe. It’s plantain yellow and waterproof as it is the underrated banana boat friends kicks.
Diallo get’s the classic offseason fable of, “an added 20lbs of muscle” so that his ability to be consistently effective in the NBA post gets accelerated.
Stocking stuffer: A new D-League mobile plan to get him some unlimited minutes making him ready to contribute as we undoubtedly lose big bodies down the stretch. I’d love to see him get more run now — especially while Dante is out and Asik is getting dusty on the bodega that is just a front for selling weed shelf that is the trade block. However, accelerating his timeline through playing time can change the direction of this team’s future.
I’ve pickled his Golden State performance in a mason jar to preserve that level of play for the rest of his Pelicans’ tenure.
Stocking stuffer: I’ve brokered his first endorsement deal — it’s with Barq’s Root Beer and it’s 30 seconds of clips featuring Alexis jumping into pump fakes and the tagline is, “Barq’s has all the bite.”
A Rynoplasty (misspelled on purpose). I sometimes hate on Langston — probably because he was a Knick. Whatever. My problem with him is that he is a chucker. He’s a jugs machine for real. Drop the ball in and instantly it’s spit out. He can be a ball-stopping combo guard, which is better than the Norris Cole ball-stopping point guard version — as Langston can actually shoot. I see him compared to Cole often; however, I see shades of Ryan Anderson in him. Ryno was the ultimate chucker. He and Langston not only chuck, but sometimes they have actually melted the Dip’n Dots booths in the arena concourse down and reformed them into a super generic D-League weird ice cream experience booths that are now selling, “Mini-Melts.” The problem is they are both high variance players who are Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan some nights and all other Batman movies on a lot of other nights. We’ve been riding on the wave of a few Dark Knights lately so it feels like he’s the best shooter in the game. However, when you look at his numbers he’s shooting a good, but not strong enough reason to have Pluto reinstated as a planet 38% from deep. I’m not complaining — well I am, but not as much as it would seem — I love that we have a guard on the bench that shoots 38% from three, I just wish it was less up and down. Therefore, I’m sending him to the OJ Mayo Clinic (because I hear they have the good drugs) to get a procedure to even out that Ryno-like variance.
Stocking stuffers: I bought him some vowels — all Es — so Pelicans’ Twitter can use 3s instead of Es when he hits from deep. He’s also getting X buttons from broken PS4 controllers on a charm bracelet to serve as a reminder that passing is an option and a quite charming one.
I’m recycling a gift idea from my previous list, but this time the rookie gets it. I’m buying Buddy a Rosetta Stone Scandinavian Language box set to help him with his Finnish. Buddy started the season so cold that people were biting on Terrence Jones’ pump fakes and sagging off on Buddy’s. As I expected, he’s broken that rookie adjustment slump and is shooting over 43% from deep in December. However, while the jumper and drives look great, he’s still missing a few seemingly makeable layups and is only converting 26.7% of his shots from 3’-16’. I’ve been on record as saying that I believe Buddy Hield will be a right-handed version of Michael Redd, and despite his slower than expected start, I still believe it. Improving his conversation rate on drives and pull-ups near the rim — as his rebounding and creating are already ahead of where I expected — will earn him that 10+ year career and some flirtation with an All-Star appearance or two.
Stocking Stuffer: I’m launching a, “Buddy is going to be alright” campaign that features a Buddy-inspired DJ Jubilee dance track based off of his shooting form called, “Do The Buddy Buck” and visually pays homage to the Yo! MTV Raps logo and graphic identity — lots of bright green, yellow and pink with squiggly lines and polka-dots.
I once wrote the following about Dante Cunningham (and there hasn’t been much reason to write about him since):
In my season opener I said, "Do you remember that Dave Chappelle bit where he said he wanted to botox his balls so they’d be smooth as eggs, shave little goatees on them and then draw mean faces on them with a Sharpie? That’s Dante Cunningham. He was our lone enforcer last season, leaving a trail of blood and cotton all over the court. Tyreke’s our soul, but Cunningham is our testicles."
Well, Dante’s once stellar defense and grit has vanished in the wake of Gentryfication. However, he has added to his game by developing that desireable corner three — 41% from deep so far this season — you want from your 3-and-D wing. Now he just needs his D back. So as a motivational tool, I’m printing up some posters with kittens wearing headbands hanging from tree branches that say, “Ante Cunningham” to get him refocused on that end.
Stocking stuffer: A Clockwork Orange styled reprogramming where his eyes are held open and he’s shown the film of his brilliant game against LeBron James on loop for 72 hours.
Like Terrence Jones before him, Reggie Williams inspires some fan fiction. His hair and beard combo are strikingly similar to one Mr. Tyreke Evans. He didn’t have that beard in the one Getty Image I searched of him in a Golden State uniform. Did he always have that? I noticed he’s also 6’-6” tall. Was he always that tall? You know who else is 6’-6”? Tyreke Evans. Is he trying to pull a Single White Female on Tyreke? Well, the barista and aspiring screenwriter I’ve hired hopes so. Between daydreaming about drawing frothed milk dicks on lattes this bean grinder is also fleshing out the SWF reboot about basketball teammates, “Swingman White Female.” The title doesn’t work yet, but more testing is being done.
Stocking Stuffers: The nickname, “TryReke Evans” and any Tyreke groupies that can’t get into VIP.
Pondexter’s media day should have come with a shallow reflecting pool and a box of tissues so that you could just sit and ponder and cry over the travesty that has been his road to recovery. It was like a marathon of Schindler’s List, Old Yeller, Dancer in the Dark, Terms of Endearment and Beaches condensed into a 10-minute concentrated juice cocktail of depression. Not even Alvin Gentry’s eyes looked dry. I don’t know if he can ever return to that playoff run form again, but I so desperately want to see him on the court again because no one deserves it more than Quincy does. I’m sending Quincy to Westworld for a host repair session with Felix Lutz.
Stocking Stuffer: I’m extending the expiration date on Q-Pon’s career.
I don’t like Alvin Gentry enough to actually buy him anything, so I’m stealing something for him. Stealing is wrong and you shouldn’t do it, unless you need to feed your family or a new graphic novel or a Jawbreaker re-issue re-mastered LP. My point is, I’m not a good person, but I still don’t want Alvin to feel left out. Also, I’m stealing from someone who tried to steal my love of basketball from me. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’m stealing from Monty Williams so that I can make Alvin Gentry better.
I used to be driven to the edges of sanity begging Monty Williams — tugging on his oversized pant legs — to call a timeout. He was like that Kamikaze pilot that “survived” on Curb Your Enthusiasm — the plane nearly crashed into the carrier save for a last second abort or “malfunction.” He always waited way too long to use a TO to kill a run, and what was so frustrating about that was that he was a genius out of timeouts. When it comes to Gentry’s out of time out scribbles on a snot rag, I’m all reviewer to his Eli Cash:
“Why would a review make the point of saying someone's not a genius? You think I'm especially not a genius?”
I’ve never seen a team be so bad out of timeouts. So that I can stop hoping he doesn’t call time out, I’ve stolen, “Monty Williams’ Big-Ol-Book of Plays After Timeouts” for Coach Gentry.
Stocking stuffers: A Victoria’s Secret gift card that is redeemable for one pink slip, a box with a water pick and a cinnamon roll in it, a box with an afro pick and sushi roll in it, a box with a toothpick and the single for The 69 Boyz classic, “Tootsee Roll” in it, a box with a guitar pick and a fire safety pamphlet with all of the words blacked out except anytime, “and” and “roll” are next to each other in it……
Dell gets a number 15 jersey with a tear-a-way nameplate so that he can just cycle through the 15th roster spot once he tires of Reggie Williams until he finds a piece of broken gold to permanently fill it. It’s like the Land of Misfit LSU #18 Jersey Traditions.
Stocking Stuffer: A writer’s credit on A Tribe Called Quest’s, “Low End Theory” for his work with James Ennis and Tim Frazier last season.
For saving basketball in New Orleans while somehow simultaneously impeding its growth (despite having a top 5 player) by interweaving both of his teams’ doctors, facilities, marketing and the head of operations, I’m allowing Mickey Loomis to cut two players with guaranteed contracts from Mr. Benson’s basketball team so he can create some dead money, and then sign two older vets named Billy-Joe to battle for the starting spot in the New Orleans’ basketball black hole that has been the small forward position.
The monster from Stranger Things to swallow all of the Twitter Barbs aimed at his luxury box.
It’s pretty shitty to give yourself a present, but after that 76ers’ game, I deserve all of it. I’m giving myself an autographed Tyreke Evans soon-to-be-throwback Pelicans jersey and a renewed subscription to League Pass so I can still chase that pick-and-roll-drive-and-kick-bully-ball-flirt-with-a-triple-double dragon.
Holly is a big Russell Westbrook fan because she likes to daydream about a man that is effective in high usage and can do at least three things at once really well. He’s the king of triple doubles. I’m the king of the single triple. Anyway, I called my ticket agent to get three extra tickets to the OKC game on the 21st so Travis and I can both bring our girlfriends and Arlo. I was expecting to pay for 3 seats relatively close to Travis and I, but she comped me 5 tickets together across the court so we can all sit together as a holiday gift — the perks of supporting your team with cash and criticisms.