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And I Will Lead You…Not Just Because I Am Spartacus, But Because You Suck June 2, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, Sports, TV.
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Just in case you were sleeping or you don’t own the magical cable compass that enables you to find the NBA games playing on your satellite provider (All of which were last seen somewhere between the local cable Access show and the network devoted strictly to macramé), the young phenom LeBron James did something this week that defies description. And no, it’s not hawking soda or shoes wearing a fake beard that looks like it was stolen straight from the 5th grade production of Oklahoma at Jackson Elementary school.

LeBron James SINGLEHANDEDLY won a game. And while I don’t mean it was like Space Jam where Michael Jordan scored every point while Looney Tunes characters did Looney tunes things or that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he beats the Gashouse Gorillas (Fact: That cartoon marked the first appearance of the over used “Ball player screaming I Got It over and over than being hit and ending up dead beneath a tombstone reading “He Got It” which itself was based on an unfortunate 1920’s ballplayer that was later documented in “The Short Life of BatShit Blind Magee: The Musical.) LeBron had other players on the court with him. He was playing a team in Detroit that has been for years trying to bring the snuggly, feel-good reputation of the 1994 Knicks (Make a basket…get a knee to the groin…everyone wins.) But his surrounding players all looked like Mike Myers during the Katrina benefit when Kanye went on about George Bush and his, um, predilection towards a certain race. They couldn’t hit the side of a barn if you lathered the barn in aluminum siding and made the ball look like the Epcot ball and coated it with magnets. The team would put up a nail biter against the Midvale School for the blind or the Special Olympics team from Russia (Though they are in wheelchairs, those Russian kids do have mad ups though).

And none of this is exaggeration. The rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers are that bad. And LeBron’s feat was that amazing. He scored 29 of his team’s last thirty points. For you math nerds, that means he scored 97% of his team’s last 30 points (Don’t be too impressed…I stayed awake in 6th grade algebra just because I had a crush on Meghan Delaney who sat across from me…She had pink braces, carried a My Pet Monster pencil case and consistently smelled like Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, the “it” fragrance of mid 80’s middle schoolers.) He was making shots that you’ve only seen Jordan and Bird make in McDonald’s commercial. He put his team on his back, carried them, stopped for a drink, realized they still needed to be carried, grumbled a bit and put them right back on his shoulders.  Just when you thought Detroit would wise up and triple team and force one of the other guys on the court to make a shot, he still sliced through them, often dunking and making a victory face that looked like a combination of an orgasm look and that Aw Shucks look extremely talented people make when they’re trying to be humble.

Surely, though, this has had happened before in team sports. A great player can put his team on his back and will them to victory. Michael Jordan did it so often; it was more news when he had an average night. Joe Namath willed the Jets to a Super Bowl victory despite wearing fur underwear and a leisure suit under his uniform. And Reggie Jackson’s Afro hit two home runs in a World Series game (His Fu Manchu moustache went 2 for 4 with a double and an Intentional walk, though. Always never did live up to its’ facial hair potential.) Sports are the rare case when superhuman ability of one can trump average abilities of several others. Like when Superman went against the entire canon of Kryptonian villains. He won, despite almost being permanently distracted by their amazingly snug leather jumpers borrowed from the set of Xanadu.

But that gets me thinking. There is no possible way this can happen in any other aspect of pop culture. Sports are by definition a black and white entity. You win or you lose. And while some may say pop culture has no competitive nature, tell that to the guy who doesn’t sell well on billboard while a glorified Now That’s What I Call A Mix Tape with his big single on it outsells him by a million albums. So here are the Spartacuses. The quick examples of how one person surrounded by enough talent to fill the cup the doctors makes you pee in during a physical, LeBronned themselves to success.

MUSIC – The Jackson Five

This one is easy. Back when he was still a kid and possessed over 80% of his own physical features, Michael Jackson carried his brothers like Chewy carried the dismantled C-3PO. Think about it. You had cute little powerhouse Michael. Tito. Jermaine. Um, Andrew. Action Jackson? Get the point.

Michael did all the work. His brothers simply looked like they were trying real hard to dance the way chorus members do when Barbra Streisand was in a musical. Pull Focus and somebody will have your nuts on a platter. Can you, quickly, name one song they let anybody else sing lead vocals on? I mean, even when the Beatles let Ringo sing, they made the song so out there, you couldn’t help but laugh at him and shrug the same way you do when you child breaks into the peanut butter and smears it all over your vintage Cheryl Tiegs poster. And they had every major Motown hit for something like ten years. They called it the Jackson Five. Though really the talent level, maybe, was more like the Jackson 2.18 (Rumor has it Tito cooked a mean frittata)

(Special shout out to the early nineties band Bonham. The band was named after the DRUMMER, which is ort of like naming your NASCAR team after the guy who changes the tire. Sure, he’s important and keeps things going, but besides ex-drum majors, who’s there to see the drummer?)

TV – Bosom Buddies

An entry into the realm of 80’s sitcoms when all you needed was a premise so outrageous, it could buy you at least ten episodes. It had everything working against it. Men in drag (There is the long standing corollary that only British men and obscenely tall black men are funny in drag. Short, squat, white American men are creepy.) Donna Dixon (who if not married to the Jabba the Hut that is Dan Aykroyd would be nothing more than the punchline to one of the greatest jokes ever on the Simpsons). And a Billy Joel theme song. Not even sung by Billy Joel.

Yet it’s one joke premise was kept on for almost three seasons. And why? Tom Hanks. The man had talent and even made the writing (a step above Chimps on Typewriters and the most recent Spiderman script) sound witty. He played off Peter Scolari (Who?) and traded barbs with Wendy Jo Sperber (a talent so great they didn’t even bring her back for the second Back to the Future). That’s like succeeding in the 100-meter dash while wearing clown shoes and leg weights. Tom Hanks willed a premise so thin and writing so bad. I think the show even got an Emmy nomination (though that may not be a big deal…think the words Emmy nominee Jm J. Bullock…nuff said there)

MOVIES – The first Pirates of the Caribbean

It was a movie based on a RIDE. Not a book, not a cartoon, not even a comic strip. It was based on a theme park ride. You know, the thing you wait in sweltering heat for 90 minutes for, it lasts for 2 minutes and you walk out going, “Really? That was it.” It was directed by the guy who did The Mexican.  (You screwed up a movie with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Tony Soprano? Seriously, I could direct that using a marionette version of myself that speaks in Farsi and still have a decent film) And the bad guys were skeletons borrowed from a Harryhausen film. Surely, this can’t make any money, let alone garner any viewers. But enter Johnny Depp.

He swaggered. He swished. He made us all gape that he was acting his ass off and in a Disney film no less. People lined up to see him dash across the scene and deliver one-liners. And while the other young leads have gone on to promising careers, back then they were simply “the kid from Lord of the Rings who played the elf” and “Say, you’re sure that’s not Natalie Portman?” Johnny Depp carried that movie so far, they gave him two sequels. They banked millions into him and by the end of the third he was phoning it in. Surely, that makes him the ultimate Spartacus.

So I congratulate LeBron. He has announced his arrival on the scene and I applaud him for it. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Because everybody else is resting on theirs and they ain’t got no stinking laurels. Being the loadbearer can be a bitch. Pretty sure Tom Hanks says that to Peter Scolari every day while Peter washes his car and grooms his cat.

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