B Rant: Clutch City 2

by Brantly Martin

18 May 2015

B = me 

Rant = declaim violently and with little sense; rave

Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion.
-Rudy Tomjanovich, former coach of the Houston Rockets


(A Replacement for Make! Your! Free Throws!)

Or don't. What do I care? It's over. I'm outta here. I'm deading Time Warner once and for all as soon as the Rockets get peaced—which may be tonight—(but it wasn't)—(then it wasn't again)—(game 7 domani and we're looking like … We Can Win This … and … The Humbling then Return of Harden … and … Dwight's Gonna Post A 20-20 Every Game … and … It's 1995 Only Mario is Corey And Robert is Josh)—or may just be in June!  

(This is where I was going to shift into a rant on free-throw shooting called “Make! Your! Free Throws!” You know: how the league should not change the hack-a-______ rule but would because Sheed was right about the NBA being closer to the WWF than, say, Sumo Wrestling. I was thinking about updating “hack-a-______” to “Ramoning” because Dwight Howard + DeAndre Jordan = Dee Dee and if Dee Dee Ramone were still with us he'd shoot free throws about as well as those two. Maybe throw in a “Brickskrieg Pop” or a “Hey, Ho, Make Your Free Throws.” But then ...)

(In The Key of “H-Town Homer”)

… Wow! … 

… Dude … 

… I mean to tell ya … Dude … 

Holy mother of all flashbacks (that I don't think are induced by former “life choices”) Beard Man. I close my eyes and don't see DMT collages exactly (but sorta) … I see shape-shifting Mario Elie, Robert Horry, Sam Cassell, Mad Max, Kenny Smith and—oddly—I see Kevin (let's put Josh Smith into the starting lineup mid-playoffs a la Elie in '95) McHale bending into Rudy T (if only he pounded a few Buds during the post-game press conference). There will never be another Dream but—(yes, my dear, bring the queso)—we native Houstonians are dreaming! My man, the “role players” did those Clippers dirty maybe (big leap, but let's go) even more than the '95 Rockets' “role players” did those Suns dirty (Mario Elie, “Kiss of Death” 3-ball, game 7: Yack). Or maybe even dirtier than the '94 Rockets' “role players” did (NYC, I just can't help it) the Knicks in the Finals (rookie Sam Cassell, game 3 at the Garden: Yack). Insert shots and continue: Kenny Smith (4th quarter of 1995 Finals, game 1: Yack), Robert (just becoming “Big Shot Bob”) Horry (4th quarter of 1995 Finals, game 3: Yack), Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell (4th quarter of 1994 Finals, game 7: Yack). 

And … shape-shift to … Trevor Ariza. He hit so many big threes this series we might have to call them the “Baci di Morte.” And, this being Houston, let's just call the dude Chili—and halfway through the cookout he's the blue ribbon favorite. Give that man an Astrodome seat and some “coldest foam in the Dome.” Or maybe a shoutout at the Rockets old stomping ground, The Summit, which is now God's Domain (or at least Joel Osteen's). 

Josh “Ain't Joshin” Smith … Che Dio! This dude has finally been cast—beginning with Game 5—in the role of a lifetime. Supporting but with perhaps the best lines. A hit man seeking redemption but not admitting to it. A cyborg that downloaded a new operating system. A left-handed Baller In Full

And what about Los Dos Abuelos? Pablo “Lock Down” Prigioni (prigioni = prisons in Italian) and Jason “The Toy Drone” Terry. Oh … oh my … the beauty of it. The poetry in old-man-motion that was the two abuelos going up against TV Commercial Actor Chris Paul. Hey, metrics/numbers people: Can you please run a report on the ratio of We, The NBA Viewers being Clockwork Oranged by Chris/Cliff “C+C” Paul to C+C making a conference finals appearance? Is it 1million:0 or 2million:0? Dude really is the C+C Commercial Factory of the moment. Catchy, but ultimately … ehhh. (For the next round of visual force-feeding C+C plays a blackjack dealer in Venice—I mean Lake Charles—I mean a gambling boat off Boca Raton—that always pulls an ace, tricks everyone into taking insurance then never pulls a face card. He later sings off-key Sinatra while you're stuck in international waters for the rest of your basketball viewing life.)

And now You say: Come on B, that's not fair. Paul played his heart out. He's the only guy that showed up for Game 7. It's not his fault! 

And now I say: Fair?! Fault?! To paraphrase Allen Iverson: We talkin about basketball! We talkin about a dude that is contractually guaranteed exactly 100 gazillion dollars and then Clockwork Oranges us with visual viruses. In the grand and minuscule karmic scheme of things, it is oh so fair. I wonder … If the ghost of James Naismith visited C+C and his acting partner, BlaKIA, in their sleep with the following offer—“My Sons, I can't guarantee you a Finals trip, but if you ditch the Insurance and Car pitchman thing I shall guarantee you a Conference Finals spot next year. The choice is yours.”—would they take it?

Doc Rivers: great coach. But his GM game? Hmmm (Doc thinking): Our bench is wack … let's sign … Junior! Imagine if the Clips would have picked up Josh Smith and/or Corey Brewer mid-season instead of the Rockets. 

And … pause.

What is a role player? A dude who knows his role. What is a role player on a championship team? A dude who knows his role is to sometimes be the star. What is a BlaKIA? A star that turns himself into a role player by playing hesitant, passing up shots down the stretch, inbounding the ball to “Lock Down” Prigioni and then … Clockwork Oranges us for the rest of the playoffs. 

Man oh man … I'm closing in on 20 years in NYC with extended pit stops in South America, Southeast Asia, Rome and Paris … And after that game yesterday all I can think about is Otto's BBQ, Pappasito's, Scarface, ZZ Top, AAU summers, 2000% humidity and mosquitoes more aggressive than a rabid driver on 610. 

Basketball … fun again. Clutch City 2

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