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Mr. Sunshine and the Upcoming NBA All-Star Game

Big relief this week.  My first attempt at an article did not get me fired from this voluntary position, and that means that I get to talk about a couple topics that are of much more interest to me than the Super Bowl.

To start off, I want to say how much I’m looking forward to Mr. Sunshine debuting on Wednesday night at 9:30PM ET on ABC.  (Attention ABC and all other media sources: I am always open to shameless, disgusting sponsorship inserts for very little monetary compensation.  Think about it…the 100 glazed eyeballs viewing this are probably more than FlashForward ever had.)

The premise of the show is that Matthew Perry plays a middle-aged manager of a mediocre sports arena in San Diego.  I know for many of you this idea probably sounds boring or unmemorable, but I’m telling you it could be the breakout series of the year if this idea is handled properly.

Perry has always been my favourite actor from Friends.  He carried a lot of jokes and scenes that would have collapsed under the strain of David Schwimmer’s mopey Eeyore impressions.  In my mind Perry was the only castmate that made a successful transition into dramatic acting with superb under the radar performances in flicks like the Ron Clark Story.  And on a personal level it’s been a good story to see him get clean from his substance demons.

But as I was saying, Mr. Sunshine has the potential to develop into a solid series, and not only because of the actors. Why would I make a bold claim on a show I’ve never seen before?  It’s because I can tell you first-hand that there is no better work environment for ridiculous, funny stories than the sports and entertainment industry – especially in arenas.  If The Office can be one of the best shows on television when it revolves around the absurdities of corporate culture within a boring paper company, Mr. Sunshine will only be constrained by the imaginations and creativity of its writers in delivering clever story arcs.

Let us bow our heads and pray for Dwight 2.0

I really hope the series focuses on sports and sports teams, and not just a random variety of bizarre events in the arena. Why?  Because I’ve spent five years working in large recreation centers and arenas, along with a year and a half stint working on a sales team for a professional sports organization.  I like to think that sports fascinate us because their games and matches are a microcosm of society – they involve health, wellness, psychology, nutrition, history, science, business, art, music, fashion, relationships, honor, struggle and redemption.  These concepts are major reasons why a TV show might be worth watching.

All of those factors came come into play behind the scenes in the sports and entertainment industry too.  I’ve seen more shady hook-ups between coworkers (and occasionally coworkers and athletes) than the guy who peddles “legit” satellite boxes for fifty bucks.  Humorous puck slut banging aside, my coworkers have included those who have struggled with addiction, mental illness and sexual assault.  All of these personal issues are amplified, and very few are kept secret, in the close confines of these jobs that require constant interaction with your peers.  I’m hoping that Mr. Sunshine can capitalize on this tension.

Side rant: One of the biggest avenues for comedy that Mr. Sunshine could explore will be the interaction between Perry and his boss. The most comically mentally deficient individual I’ve ever met was a direct superior of mine who would be a dynamite selection for the role of “obnoxious tourist” in an episode of Punk’d.

This hefty boss once drunk e-mailed his entire staff from Las Vegas with a combination of consonants and numeric symbols.  I watched him wince when someone lightly tossed him a carrot, in a way that I imagine a vampire would when confronted by an angry polar bear with garlic fur.  Going out to lunch during a meeting with a client was an interesting proposition, as you never knew when he was going to look at a room full of women and loudly announce, “I bet last night they all had cocks in their mouths”.  In short:  I really hope Mr. Sunshine goes over the top and creates an evil senior boss to Perry’s character that borders on the unbelievable.  Those guys really do exist out there, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch the carnage from the outside.

And yet… some of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing were my colleagues in that office, and they always kept each other in positive spirits.  The group cohesion and camaraderie among those who work in the industry is another aspect I hope they incorporate into the show.  I remember one time about fifteen of us low level peons sat tensely during a mandatory early-morning meeting that had been necessitated by recent events.

Speaker: “Okay, we’ll be talking about nepotism today.  Who knows what that is?”

Co-worker: “Is that like when the chick is already dead?”

Beautiful.  Mr. Sunshine, I wish you the best.

-=-

Moving on, let’s take a look at the NBA All-Star rosters for the All-Star game happening on February 20th.  This game is also known as the annual competition to see which athlete can best negate the effects of a three-day bender with rap stars and movie moguls over the course of the weekend.

Yo Lebron, Ima let you finish, but Kobe is the greatest of all time. OF ALL TIME.

The 2011 ASG has the potential to be a bit different than many recent lackluster ASGs.  The recently announced rosters might be the best collection of NBA talent in their peak years since the late 1980’s.  When I look back through historical rosters, some of the mid 1990’s to late 1990’s rosters were embarrassingly sparse of elite hall-of-game level talent past the top three or four guys.  For example, the East representatives for 1998, aside from Jordan, Mutombo and Hill, (Kemp was past his prime by this point) looks like a community league basketball team. My badass 12-year old self wouldn’t have taken many of those guys on his NBA video game teams.

But he would have made his own character with a 99 overall rating, and convinced his brothers that it was a "totally legit representation" of his skills

This year?  Completely different story.  Aside from China being China and voting in an injured Yao Ming to another all-star game in which he has no business being on the ballot, there are no weak links on either team.  Evidence: Tim Duncan, the best power forward of all-time, is barely an afterthought on the West squad.

For the most part the picks unfolded as they should have this year.  The unfair omission of certain players was largely addressed through commissioner/coach voting, and the guys that deserved to be on the team (Blake Griffin, Kevin Love) were added.  I especially support Stern’s decision to put Love into the game.  Love is leading the league in rebounding (currently pulling down over 15 boards a game), and is a player that is on pace for the first 20 ppg / 15 rpg season since Moses Malone accomplished it in 1982-83 with Philadelphia.

Fun fact:  If Love finishes the year with his current averages, he will be the first player with a 20/15 season who also made at least one three-pointer.  That’s pretty good, except that he’s made 68 of them on 43% shooting from behind the arc.  I don’t care if the Timberwolves end the season with a worse record than the Cavaliers (no chance by the way, if you saw Antawn Jamison’s face last night as they broke the NBA record for consecutive games lost), those are stats that deserve a place in the mid-season showcase.

My only major concern is that Steve Nash got screwed by voters with the selection of Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz.  Williams is having a decent season, with 21 ppg, 10 apg and 4 rpg.  However, he’s buoyed by a stronger supporting forward cast that alleviates pressure on the Jazz guards, a factor that should have been taken into consideration by All-Star voters.  With Robin Lopez regressing slightly this year, Nash has had no legitimate centers to demand attention down low.

Williams is currently shooting a mediocre 46% from the field, including only 35% from three point land.  Per 36 minutes, Williams has 2 ppg more than Nash, but 3 less assists (9.1 apg versus 12.0 apg for Nash), and most surprisingly, less rebounds (3.5 rpg versus 4.0 rpg for Nash).  All this is despite the fact that if Nash still had a dominant pick and roll option like Stoudemire he would likely have closer to 14 or 15 dimes a game.

As it currently stands, Nash is still second in the league in assists per game (the statistic that I think is the most important for a point guard in a successful offense), and yet four other point guards are heading to the big game.  Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Williams all have better supporting casts, and you could argue that Chris Paul does as well with the presence of David West in New Orleans.

Fourty-eight games in, Nash is having a hall-of-fame level 92/53/41 (FT%/FG%/3FG%) season as the focal point for opposing defenses, and that should be reason enough to put the guy on the West squad.  It’s really a shame that he was left out of the game this year, but I think he still has enough juice in the legs for another chance or two.  It’s going to be hard if he stays in Phoenix as the Army of One beyond this season however.

The redemption for Nash will come if/when Mark Cuban applies his brilliant mind to find a way to get a deal done to clear the way for a Nash move to Dallas.  Nash deserves one or two more playoff runs for an NBA title with a team that he doesn’t have to be the basketball Jesus just to make it out of the first round.  It would be a great reunion story to see Nash and Nowitzki teamed up as two goofy guys from Canada and Germany trying to bring down the Spurs and Lakers in the West.  Fingers crossed.

Before I go, I’d like to give a big kudos to the Green Bay Packers, and especially Aaron Rodgers for not only winning the Super Bowl but making sure that my first ever game prediction wasn’t complete garbage.  I came within a field goal or so both ways on the score and successfully called AR stepping into the next circle of elite quarterbacks.  I also watched him on Letterman last night, and found him to be just as soft-spoken and humble as ever.  If he can keep that level head on him, he’s going to have a fantastic career.  Way to go Packers.

Final laugher of the day is for Alex Rodriguez…who could not have more perfectly coordinated a “Completely Unlikeable Celebrity Somehow Becoming More Unlikeable” moment than having Cameron Diaz feed him popcorn in a private suite like some sort of evil Roman emperor, all in front of 110 million viewers.  Great unintentional comedy.

Prediction of the day:  Carmelo ends up in New York by the trade deadline.  The Los Angeles Lakers jumping in are just a negotiating ploy to drive the Knicks price up.

FREE STEVE NASH

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  1. March 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

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