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Sweet Georgia Brown Noise June 3, 2008

Posted by doctorolove in Pop Culture Rants, Sports.

That loud scream, a mixture of joy, sexual jubilation and outright orgasmicness, emanating from the NBA offices last week did not come from another Kobe Bryant paramour. It did not come from Charles Barkley realizing he had one more Ring Ding in a box he once thought empty. And it wasn’t from Marv Albert, realizing that a local Victoria’s Secret was having a “Going Out of Business” sale. Nope, it was from none other than David Stern.

The NBA had fallen on some tough times. Recently it was reported that Mr. Stern was only wiping his ass with fifty-dollar bills, instead of his old standard, 1000 cut Egyptian sheets wrapped in fifty-dollar bills. TV ratings were down. Refs were throwing games to appease mobsters (in real life, too, not just in bad Adrian Grenier movies). And the dumb as rocks children who were once able to jump to the NBA straight from their sham high schools had to attend college for AT LEAST ONE YEAR. That could mean injury, underperformance, or worse, the idea that they might actually like learning and put off the fact that their likeness would be sold on everything from shoes to Beanie Baby figurines for a whole four years.

Nope, Mr. Stern got his wish when the Celtics of Boston and the Lakers of Los Angeles managed to wade through the sludge of teams who sell tickets only in their hometowns. This was David and Goliath (wait, both teams are among the biggest moneymakers in all sports…) This was Bird vs. Magic (wait, Larry Bird now resembles John Holmes without the huge wiener and Magic has enough popcorn at his chain of movie theatres to garner his own zip code….). This is Kobe vs. Kevin Garnett. This is that weird white Lurch guy against the guy who schooled Denzel Washington (no, not Ethan Hawke…). This is Phil Jackson…zen master…against Doc Rivers, whose previously claim to fame was, um, that he once was in a highlight film because he was in the camera’s view of Dominique Wilkins. This is green vs. purple. This is the Hulk’s color scheme taking on human form and fighting against one another. This is money in the bank. A series that takes an amazing rivalry (which hasn’t happened more than two times a year since 1987) and puts it on network TV. Yup. NBA. This happens.

But is Lakers-Celtics the greatest rivalry in sports? I mean, it did have a series of Sega Genesis games, with graphics only slighter stronger than Konami’s Double Dribble, named after it. It boasts some of the greatest players in all of history having taken part in it. And again, it’s all about the color scheme.

While I am in the Red Sox vs. Yankees camp of something being even more monumentous in terms of sheer hatred and the Duke-UNC rivalry being as close our nation has gotten to beating up and hating your kinfolk since the Civil War, neither of these holds a candle to the greatest rivalry in sports history.

Yup, the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals.

Now, one may say, it’s not a rivalry if one team consistently loses. One may say it’s not a rivalry if the teams don’t have some sort of geographic proximity. And some more may say it’s not a rivalry if one team is allowed to utilize buckets of confetti borrowed from the Rip Taylor collection. I say, Pshaw on all of you.

These teams have played an astounding 15,000 plus games against one another. And the Generals have won maybe five of those (Stats not confirmed…in fact, five may be a little generous.) So how can it be a rivalry? For that reason alone. Five times in over 15,000 tries. Meaning that should you actually be present for one of those wins, you are truly, for that day, in love with your team. The Yanks and Red Sox beat up on another and often find the word curse and spooky and Goose Gossage’s moustache bandied about. But they beat one another so often that to witness a victory by either team is just another day. Sure, you get angry and you curse the guy in the cubicle next to you with the “Tessie” ringtone, but you move on.

And Duke-UNC plays twice, three times a year at max. They could play for another 7000 years at this rate and while people are teleporting to their flying cars, each time will have one more than five…thousand times. Not five.

And to actually win five times, while the other team is pantsing you, or bribing the ref, or hiding the ball under their shirt takes moxie. It takes luck. It takes one of those cheat codes you put in your Madden game that allows unlimited stamina. But it has happened.

A rivalry can be one sided but to truly achieve monumental status, one team’s victory has to mean something more than a year of bad blood or the occasional hangover at work the next day. It must be momentous. It must be life changing. It must involve confetti.

And besides, have any Laker or Celtic been on Scooby Doo?

No, Pau Gasol was not the Creeper zombie guy…next question…



1. Lola - June 6, 2008

You never fail to make me snort out of my nose.

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