Lang’s World: Ten Pearls of Whitaker’s Wit and Wisdom on Sports and Beyond 3.1.18
1. The 2017-18 YOLO All-Stars
This year’s NBA All-Star Game turned out to be compelling and interesting, unlike several of the games we’ve had the last few seasons. I’ve actually found myself thinking about the last play of the 2018 game -- a defensive stop around the three-point line with arguably the best three-point shooter of all time trying to get a shot off! -- multiple times over the last two weeks. The two teams found some motivation, and while they didn’t really sustain their engagement for 48 minutes, the All-Star Game was clearly more worthwhile than it has been for years.
The All-Star Game is ostensibly a celebration of the NBA’s stars, the opportunity for one night only to unite what is usually a spread-out league. And while this is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, these are not always my favorite NBA players. I enjoy watching great players on the court, but I like coexisting the rest of the year with all the rest of the NBA players who make the league more interesting on a daily basis.
For several years I have been selecting what I refer to as The NBA YOLO All-Stars. These are the players who, for me, represent the most fun things about the NBA. These guys aren’t necessarily the very best players in the NBA. But in my book they are the most fun - the people who make the NBA fun to follow.
So after thorough consultation with the official YOLO All-Star Selection Committee (which is actually just me, Amara Baptist and Alexis Morgan), these are your 2017-18 YOLO All-Stars.
-- We must recognize anyone who believes the Earth is flat.
-- Not only did Dion write the best article in the history of The Players’ Tribune, but this year he blessed us with photos of his custom 10-foot wide bed.
-- Super Cool Beas uses 11 percent of his brain.
-- If you don’t understand why he’s on here, start googling.
-- JR has had a quiet season, but we have to include anyone who once showed up for an NBA Finals game riding a hoverboard
-- RoLo hates mascots
-- He’s still a young one, but earlier this season Oubre played in a game while wearing a Supreme leg sleeve
-- The Brooklyn Nets guard not only won the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend, but he is one of the most fun NBA players to follow on Twitter
-- The Knicks big man is as active online as he is on the court.
-- The Brodie is not only the MVP, he wears whatever he wants to wear to NBA games and looks awesome while doing it.
-- Swaggy P wore a pair of the new Yeezys in a game just this week.
-- He’s only a rookie, but the Jazz guard is not only one of the most dynamic players in the NBA and a slam dunk champ, but he’s out here leaving tickets for Jazz fans who slide into his DMs.
-- The Portland guard is one of the league’s most entertaining follows on Twitter.
-- It takes a special person to make compelling social media content out of being stuck in an elevator.
-- He’s toned down his antics, so consider this more of a lifetime achievement nod.
-- Been injured most of the season, so we’ll call this a family achievement award. Also, he recently released a rap album in the middle of his rookie season, which is pretty impressive.
-- Just watch this
-- After suffering an injury in a game last week, Butler took the time to not only visit a fan after the game, but he clearly did his best to make it a visit to remember.
-- LouWill is fun on social media, and I’m putting him on this All-Star team since the Fun Police kept him off the actual All-Star team, on which he rightfully belonged.
2. Tag Me
One of these days when I finally launch my Presidential campaign, I will run on a populist platform that has several planks. I believe this will garner me near-unanimous support, regardless of any political stands I take - and to be clear, I will take no political stands. I will focus on broad topics and ideas that many people will like and ride into office on a tidal wave of support. Once there, well, I guess I’ll figure out that part then. Anyway, here are some of my initial campaign positions...
A. Eliminate Daylight Savings Time
-- Nobody likes living in the dark for the entire winter. We need some light in the sky when we get home from work. Sorry, farmers.
B. Eliminate Reclining Plane Seats
-- There are many demeaning, dehumanizing parts of the air travel experience, from being sorted like cattle to being told to wait for hours. But once you’re finally on the plane and in the air, it gets worse when the person sitting in front of you reclines their seat all the way back. Well once I'm in office, no more! All coach airline seats will be fixed so they cannot recline.
C. Eliminating pretzels from Chex Mix
-- When you purchase a bag of delicious Chex Mix, let’s just call pretzels out for being what they are, at least in the context of Chex Mix: filler. The only reason pretzels are in there is to take up space. Unlike the cereal and the other stuff, they don’t seem to carry any flavor, so they end up being these weird gluten placeholders designed to keep you from eating more of the good stuff, the stuff you bought the Chex Mix to consume. If I want to eat pretzels, I’ll buy pretzels.
And my latest addition...
D. No more tags on t-shirts
-- For decades and decades, humans wore t-shirts with tags on the back of the neck without any real problems. Did they sometimes irritate us or cause a little itching? Perhaps. But we seemed to be able to deal with the issue just fine.
Until a few years ago, when the cabal of designers at Big T-Shirt seemed to unanimously decide to take the tags on shirts off the neck and move them to the side seam down near the waist. So now instead of their being a bit of scratching at the back of the neck, a sensation we as a people have literally spent decades getting used to, we are being asked to deal with scratching on our sides.
The t-shirt designers know these tags are a problem because they often include a dotted line and a drawing of scissors, showing us exactly where to cut these tags. As I do not keep a pair of scissors in my clothes closet, I often end up just ripping the tags off, which means I now have a wardrobe full of t-shirts with a hole in them on the left side.
My answer to this scourge? Let’s do away with tags altogether. We can print what size a shirt is on the shirt. Other than that, why do we need these four-inch long tags with hundreds of words printed on there? Over the last year I have slowly replaced my t-shirt collection with a bunch of shirts from ‘47, which are comfortable and fit great and do not have any tags in them. And you know what? My life is no worse for not having any tags. Let’s make America tag-free.
And for what it’s worth, we should have known this was an impending issue facing our country a few years ago when two of the greatest humans who have ever lived, Jackie Chan and Michael Jordan, tried to warn us.
When elected, I promise that l will add these men to my cabinet.
3. Games People Play
One thing I enjoy about the internet is its ability to shrink the world and bring us closer together by teaching us things we didn’t otherwise know about. And I’m not talking about things like, you know, academics or math. I’m talking about things such as Bo-Taoshi, which is my new favorite sport.
Bo-Taoshi is apparently something played in Japan that is close to Capture The Flag, except the flag is attached atop a pole and is being guarded by a person. And everyone is wearing panda helmets. Just watch this:
There are random fistfights, shirts being torn, people flying in and jumping off each other’s backs… how is this not the most popular sport in the United States? Forget the XFL, bring us The Bo-Taoshi League!
4. Dance Party
I recently paid a visit to the Memphis flagship location of the Bass Pro Shops, which is the biggest dang thing you've ever seen. While we were there, we rode the elevator up to the roof to take in a panoramic view of downtown Memphis and the Mississippi River. And during the ride up, you are treated to a bit of commentary from legendary TV fisherman Bill Dance.
My son didn’t know about Bill Dance, which prompted me to come home and fire up one of the funniest YouTube videos of all time.
5. Lang’s World Reading List
With the Oscars coming up this Sunday, I realized I was woefully behind this year on seeing movies that had been nominated. So I recently sat down and fired up my On Demand button and...realized hardly any of the movies are actually available to rent. Which I guess I understand -- the makers of these movies still want people to go to a theater to see their films, although if I can shake free from my life for three hours, you better believe I’m going to go see "Black Panther" instead of "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
Anyway, this seems like a good time to rewind to a year ago, when the wrong movie was announced as the winner for Best Picture. The Hollywood Reporter does their best to get to the bottom of what happened in this long oral history, which is a great read, with a lot of shade thrown, mostly at Faye Dunaway. "Warren and Faye have not had the greatest relationship over the years. This is common knowledge. It’s a strained pairing because Faye is impossible." And the picture at the top of the story is so great -- the expression on The Rock's face is better than any actual acting work that he’s done.
6. Dance Break
Let us now watch Clipper center Boban Marjanovic doing the Chicken Noodle Soup dance...
8. Can They Kick It?
An interesting court case came to a conclusion this week, as a photographer lost his battle claiming that his photo of Michael Jordan was the picture which inspired what would become the iconic Jumpman logo. A Circuit Court of Appeals judge ruled that the silhouette of Jordan leaping with his legs spread was different from the image that eventually became the Jordan Brand logo. You can check the link above and decide for yourself.
9. Animal Takeover
Those of us in the scientific community have recently been enjoying a Twitter hashtag called #ThisEatsThat, where people talk about which animals eat unlikely stuff. For instance, did you know crabs eat birds?
And no, I am not actually part of the scientific community. I just wanted to throw that in there.
10. Go Forth With Song
SiriusXM currently has a Billy Joel channel that is mostly playing the music of Billy Joel. They also occasionally play songs of other artists that he was inspired by or friends with. Anyway, the song "Piano Man" recently came on, which I’ve heard a million times. But for some reason, this time I paid attention to the line, "Paul was a real estate novelist who never had time for a wife," and for the first time ever, I wondered, "What is a real estate novelist? Are there novels being written about real estate?"
Turns out Joel apparently means Paul is in real estate but wants to be a novelist, although he picked a strange way of saying it. Anyway, you, too, deserve to get "Piano Man" stuck in your head all day…
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Memphis Grizzlies. All opinions expressed by Lang Whitaker are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Memphis Grizzlies or its Basketball Operations staff, owners, parent companies, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Memphis Grizzlies and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.