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August 5, 2003 Columns No Comments

Big screen ballin’

by Nicholas Lozito

It’s a sad sight; I’ll admit it. An uncoordinated white kid dribbling a basketball between his legs and behind his back until it caroms off his left knee and knocks over a nearby lamp.

So I’m not the next Hot Sauce. Big Deal. But I’ll bet I’m not the only one living out And 1 pipe dreams in front of a bedroom mirror. In fact, I’m sure of it.

If you’ve tuned into MTV over the past few weeks, you may have seen what I’m talking about. In his latest business venture (that I am aware of), Magic Johnson has brought twelve streetballers from across the country to New York, where they are competing for a $100,000 grand prize in a streetball reality show.

The show’s title: “Who’s Got Game?”

The answer: Nobody.

And you thought “The Magic Hour” was bad.

My Sacramento State women’s basketball team has won a mere three games over the past two seasons, but even they could compete with Johnson’s assemblage of streetball shame. It reminds me of third grade recess, when me and Robby once fought over a loose ball for three-and-a-half minutes before Ms. Cross sat us on time-out.

An ill-advised attempt at cashing in on the streetball and reality T.V. crazes at the same time, “Who’s Got Game?” lacks the free-spirit style which makes And 1 ball so attractive, while not realizing that shower-stall surveillance is why American teens remain glued to “The Real World.”

Not to say I haven’t watched every episode. Hell, even TNN has had me glued to the resurrection of “American Gladiators” throughout this jobless summer of mine. But “American Gladiators” isn’t what has me swept off my feet like an up-and-coming actress in the latest romantic comedy. Streetball is.

That is, until Mr. Johnson and company polluted the airwaves with utter filth. Did he seriously think America would simply eat up any streetball program he threw on the air? Does he think we are that easy? Well, I’ve got a newsflash for you, Mr. Johnson – I am.

Another sad site of summer is that of myself sitting in front of the big screen all day. During my hibernation, or as George Costanza might proclaim it, “The Summer of Nick,” I have come across several comical inquiries concerning basketball on the tube. For instance, does anyone else find it awkward when after-school specials continuously film their basketball scenes inside a small television studio, therefore making the court only a tad bit larger than Mariah Carey’s walk-in closet on MTV’s “Cribs”?

I understand the director’s concern for adequate lighting, but am I really supposed to take Will Smith seriously in “The Fresh Prince” when he’s nailing 3-pointers from half-court with ease?

Which brings me to my list of the Top 5 Greatest Basketball Episodes in Sitcom History?

5. “The Fresh Prince” — Will Smith shocked the world when, in a game versus arch-rival Malibu Prep, he relaxed on defense in the final possession, costing his team the victory. The Fresh Prince must have hit ten 3-pointers on that nine-foot rim that night, but in the end he decided to throw the game, knowing Malibu’s star player was a new father in search of a college scholarship and needed the win much more than he did. (Note: Episode does not include Carlton’s gleeful Tom Jones finger-snap dance)

4. “Saved by the Bell” — Needing community service hours to graduate from Bayside High, Zack and the gang run an after school “Teen Line” program for students who need peer-to-peer counseling. When money for the volunteer program runs low, they decide to throw a charity wheelchair basketball game. Screech decides to hook up rocket boosters to his wheelchair, and sure enough, he is sent flying out of the gym after his contraption goes haywire. No sympathy from Lisa Turtle, of course.

After the game, Zack goes out of his way to let the fans know that his girlfriend, who he met through the peer-to-peer counseling, is actually disabled. Zack, all she wanted was to be treated like everyone else.

3. “Happy Days” — Richie “Luscious Legs” Cunningham hit’s a game-winning shot to send Jefferson High into the state championship game against Fillmore High. However, Richie is kidnapped by some guys from Fillmore, and he arrives late to the game after being rescued by whom other than Fonzie. Richie is fouled with Jefferson trailing by two points and one second left. He hit’s the first free throw, using Rick Barry’s underhand-style shot, but misses the second. The game ends in a Jefferson loss.

2. “Hang Time” — “Hang Time” is a show that evolves around the men’s varsity basketball team at Deering High, which consists of four unathletic guys and a girl. In one episode, Julie Connor (the girl) and Teddy Brodis (roughly 5-foot-10, 230 pounds) get hustled by a couple of college players. Coach Fuller (played by former NBA player Reggie Theus) is very upset when he finds out about his players’ situation. In the end, Kobe Bryant shows up to help Teddy and Julie get their money back, and then he teaches them an important lesson about gambling.

1. “Family Matters” — One episode of “Family Matters” changed my whole perception of Steve Urkel.

When Eddie Winslow chooses to play with Kenny “Spider” Jackson in the city basketball championships, Steve is left crushed and without a teammate. That is, until Larry “Grandmamma” Johnson comes to Steve’s rescue, and the duo go on to take the city crown. But the real story was that everyone learned Urkel has game. Serious game.


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