In the annals of abject disgrace, apparently LeBron James now stands atop this dubious mountain. TMZ, which seems to have its fingers in every titillating, salacious and controversial pie these days, has posted a video that Nike attempted to squelch. In it, the King is -- gasp! -- dunked on by Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford in a pickup game at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron.
Dunked on. In a pickup game.
Let us repeat that again in an attempt to shatter your numb shock that has no doubt grown since the news broke two weeks ago: Dunked on. In..a..pickup...game.
Oh, the shame. Oh, the humanity.
Nike reportedly sat on the video, citing a dubious "no taping" rule, and this space suspects that the secrets of the atomic bomb have not been guarded quite as zealously. Of course, one unintended (?) consequence was the good old "forbidden fruit" effect: in trying to make it disappear, Nike or whoever was ultimately calling the shots only ratched up the public's wild-eyed desire to see this infamous, ignominious moment. And wouldn't you know that an alternate take was floating around. (Yet more proof that everyone and every deed is on record in the information age.) Not since the Zapruder film has such monumental, historic, earthshaking footage been revealed.
So here it is, to LeBron's everlasting shame and, we would imagine, Michael Vick's abject relief, as the spotlight is moving on at last, with a little help fromBen Roethlisberger's lady friend in Tahoe. This space fully expects LeBron to immediately flee to a dark cave in the wilderness, never to be heard from again as his family disowns him and his closest friends shun him with a severity that would make the Amish blush.
All we can say is it's been quite a week for sports celebrity laundry (or lack thereof) flapping online. If North Korea, which apparently launched massive though unsuccessful cyberattacks on the White House, Pentagon, State Department and Wall Street a couple weeks ago really wants to bring down this country's computer network, all it needs is a piece of illicit celebrity video linked to a nice big load of viruses, worms, chiggers, cornborers and other cybernasties, and boom boom, out go the lights.
No doubt you're as breathless as the next oxygen-processing organism about the August 18 premier of Shaquille O'Neal's new TV show in which he competes against luminaries in their chosen fields. You'll get the Shaqster battling Michael Phelps in a pool showdown (the kind with water); Ben Roethlisberger in football; Serena Williams in tennis; Oscar de la Hoya in the sweet science; Albert Pujols in our national pastime; and Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor in a spirited round of beach volleyball.
Riveting spectacles all, no doubt.
But the one match-up we'd actually pay to see is Diesel vs. Keyshawn Johnson in interior design. Along with new shows starring Shaq and Terrell Owens, Mr. Give-Me-The-Damn-Ball is now strutting his stuff in Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design on A&E. For pure ingenious concept, this one can't be beat in our book. Nothing says "fine furnishings" and "homey decor" quite like a big time athlete, current or former. So the pulse races at thought of Johnson in an all-out competition with Shaq to see who does the most effective and original job of outfitting a hovel with chairs that look like baseball gloves, leaving towels tastefully strewn on the floor, casting beer cans and pizza boxes about the den, and tossing underwear tastefully in the corners.
"When it comes to design, there are all sorts of different ways to skin a cat," Johnson recently confided to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. We took this to mean that he has a preference for tiger rugs with the head and yawning fangs on 'em. Come to think of it, a big game hunting competition for furniture and accessories might just be what Shaq needs to attract the outdoor adventure audience to his new extravaganza.
This possibilities are endless.
Last month, this space relayed the tale of the Hudson Valley Renegades' proposed "Ladies Night: A Ball-Free Ballgame" where only women would be admitted to Dutchess Stadium before the fifth inning of the team's July 7 game against the Staten Island Yankees. Menfolk had to content themselves with a team-sponsored shindig in the parking lot. Turns out, Dutchess County objected to this apparent violation of New York State human rights law. This was on the heels of Alfred G. Rava's sex discrimination suit against the Oakland A's for failing to give him a sunhat during a Mother's Day promotion.
Well, it seems the Class A New York-Penn League is just a hotbed of this kind of gender-baiting strife. Before their game last Sunday, the Brooklyn Cyclones held a Lamaze class in centerfield during "Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy." Other events included a barefoot run/waddle around the bases and women in their third trimester tossing the first pitch (not their cookies, thankfully). Expectant moms who delivered during the game and agreed to name their new bundles of joy "Brooklyn" or "Cy" got free season tickets for life. To our knowledge, no men particpated, so you can just smell the next lawsuit bubbling now that guys are squeezing out babies.
Speaking of promotions, this space was mildly surprised to see that Kaiser Permanente pulled out of sponsoring the big Manny Ramirez bobblehead promotion at Dodger Stadium. Apparently, Kaiser got cold feet when Manny was hit with that 50-game ban for using performance-enhancing elixirs, but one would think that a medical conglomerate wouldn't mind all that terribly much a connection with someone who apparently makes ample use of pharmaceutical products, doctors, etc. This space also imagines that bobblhead dolls of steroid users would tend to bobble side-to-side, as in the universal gesture of denial, rather than up and down.
A great week for the carbon-dated set, what with Tom Watson nearly bagging the British Open, but our favorite was 81-year old Hershel McGriff finishing a more-than-respectable 13th in NASCAR's Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway.
McGriff is no ordinary gearhead geezer. He's a Motorsports Hall of Famer who has four NASCAR Cup series wins on his six-decade resume. And apparently, he used his age and experience to his advantage. "I followed him for a little while and I couldn't get around him," said winner Jim Inglebright, who is to be commended for not slipping in a gratuitous crack about McGriff's failure to shut off his directional signal.
Two weeks ago in this space, our reliable sores in France reported that highly indignant French race officials were going all-out with an insidious covert plot to prevent Lance Armstrong from winning the Tour de France for the eighth time. Apparently, their fiendish substitution of cheese wheels and use of bogus shrubbery fo distraction is having the intended effect as Armstrong has slipped to fourth after 17 stages and as of this scrawling.
And you probably think that we make this stuff up out of whole wheat and pure hallucination! Maybe next time you'll believe this space when it hands you the kind of saucy inside dish you'll get nowhere else -- for good reason, unless "somewhere else" is your friendly local asylum.
The proprietor of this space wishes to thank all of you out there who have availed yourselves of the handy literature chute on your right to send in thought-provoking commentary such as the following from Peter Mazur in San Diego, CA -- "The pen is mighter then the sword? Ring a bell? Have respect for your journalistic ability and responsibility. Don't be a knucklehead" -- and once-in-lifetime offers such as this one:
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So while we show off our new handbag and incur the envy of our colleagues here at SI.com, let us take this moment to say keep the cards and letters and offers to save up to 50 percent on summertime roses and calla lilies coming.