I'm 6-foot, 6-inches, 220 pounds, and like the majority of big, tough, physically-imposing men around the world, I have a pair of bright-pink cashmere dress socks that I wear on special occasions. They are soft, sleek and smothered in a fluorescent fuchsia tint that exudes social approachability, wardrobe versatility and maybe just a smidge of mental instability. I call these puppies my "dancing socks," and if there's ever an event that requires dress attire and that affords the opportunity to cut a rug, I'll most likely throw on those bad boys, just to guarantee that I'm ready to roll.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I like to party, and I'm not talking about drunken debauchery or sloppy decision-making. The truth is, I've always been a responsible person, and while I'm almost exclusively a sparkling water drinker, it has absolutely no bearing on my king's thirst to have a bitchin' good time. Life can be difficult, unpredictable, and full of trying circumstances, so I think it's only logical that some fun must be mixed in along the way. That fun, I believe, is crucial to achieving the important balance between work and play, and there's nothing wrong with seeking it out, because it doesn't always come to us when we need it.
Maybe throw in that old Tupac CD and take an impromptu road trip once in a while, you know? Maybe go on an embarrassing yet ultimately rewarding karaoke bender. Or give a stranger a playful noogie, as long as it's lighthearted and as long as he's much smaller than you. Rip your shirt off at the club. Sleep in someone's bathtub. Watch DVDs of 24 until 8 a.m. (talking from experience here). And most importantly, grow the ironic moustache, if you're able to, because your friends will think you're hilarious.
Clearly, there are a million ways to have a good time, but for a basketball player like me, they are not always as accessible as you'd think. Sure, there are undeniable perks to being an athlete, for partying's sake and otherwise, especially once you become a pro, but that doesn't change the reality: being a serious ballplayer takes a lot of commitment, and it forces you to miss out on some of the most basic and potent opportunities for fun that growing up has to offer. And that, although totally worth it, is kind of a bummer. In middle school, it might mean missing the stare-at-the-Playboy-mag-that-your-friend-daringly-stole-from-his-grandpa-party-I mean your friend's sleepover party-because you have a game the next day. In high school, it might mean passing on the class graduation trip to the beach because of an AAU Tournament. And in college, if you're on a team that makes it to postseason play, it probably means foregoing the raucous ritual of Spring Break that the rest of your peers get to enjoy.
Now that spring is upon us, all this nostalgia about fun times forfeited begs the question: could there really be a bigger and better chance at an unforgettable great time than a Spring Break trip with your closest friends? I don't think so. But because of my basketball schedule while at Stanford, I have limited real-life experience with this topic. Sadly, my Spring Break resume only consists of a last-minute, two-day trip to Mexico with my teammates after being eliminated early from the NCAA Tournament. While it was a magical 48 hours filled with popping, locking and eating steak tacos at a rusty stand on the roadside, it's all I've got as far as Spring Break is concerned.
Now, as a 28-year-old on the verge of marriage, those college days are long behind me, but the eternal spirit of the fun that Spring Break represents will never die. And since a trip is only as good as the people you share it with, and since I love basketball, and since spring has just arrived, it's only natural to wonder which NBA players would be fun to party with on an epic Spring Break excursion. For normal people, it would stop at the wondering part, but I've gone ahead and named an All-NBA Spring Break Team, because I just felt like somebody needed to step up to the plate and make it happen. I have many friends in the NBA, so I've only selected guys that I don't know, purely based off of the positive impressions they've given as I've followed their careers. In that manner, I can more freely imagine the extent to which they'd be able to rock it out Spring Break style, like the bros you've always wanted. And so, here is my All-NBA Spring Break Team, an ode to NBA ballplayers who I don't know personally, but who look like they appreciate a good time, just like I do. In other words, let's party.
Spring Break Bro No. 1: Brian Scalabrine, Chicago Bulls
We're in the club. The base is pumpin'. The lights are strobin'. The DJ is crushin' it on the ones and twos. All of a sudden, House of Pain blasts through the speakers. It's "Jump Around," obviously. In my mind, this is the moment that Scalabrine lives for, and this is why he has Spring Break legend written all over him. You couldn't see him wearing his own replica Celtics jersey as he, well, jumps around and raps along with the song, because he clearly knows every single word? Of course you could, as could I, but we're not the only ones who appreciate this guy. Veal has developed quite a following in recent years, and I bet it's well deserved, because he seems like an easy-going hombre who doesn't take himself too seriously. Spring Break could always use an individual like that, especially one of the red-headed variety, and especially one who is sometimes referred to as "The Ginger Ninja." Like Wooderson, I love those redheads, man, and though it wouldn't surprise me to see Scal cover up his glorious flames with a double-sided beer helmet at the beach, I'm A-Okay with that. After all, if he's on the trip, that means I won't be the only one who needs to apply SPF 75 at strategic intervals throughout the day, and that will make me feel good about myself. All in all, this guy is a terminator, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I like it.
Spring Break Bro No. 2: Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
If anyone in the NBA looks like they'd fit right in on a rocking party boat floating below the expansive red-rock cliffs of northern Arizona's beautiful Lake Powell (or some such location), it's Andy V. He plays with the type of boundless energy and childlike charm that would make anyone an asset on a Spring Break trip, even if they didn't have an awesome mop of hair like Andy. Luckily, he has that fluffy mound of curls to work with, and the thought of seeing what happens to that thing when it gets wet is reason enough to invite him along for the ride. Also, there's the fact that, from a wardrobe perspective, he's a Spring Break triple threat. What I mean is that I can actively picture Andy chillin' on the party boat, wearing board shorts, men's capri pants, or a fresh pair of "jorts," all with equal levels of appropriateness. That, my friends, is no easy feat. If you're the type of dude that can rock some jorts on a boat and still look cool, then you're the type of dude I want to hang with on Spring Break. And Andy just seems like that type of dude, and accordingly, he has my undying respect and admiration. I even think those jorts could have frayed edges, by the way, and it would still work. Wow. This guy is amazing.
Spring Break Bro No. 3: Chris Andersen, Denver Nuggets
If a breakdance circle formed at the club during Spring Break, does Birdman not seem like the type to jump right in and hit a one-armed handstand, possibly using a flat piece of cardboard that he brought to the club himself, just for the occasion? I think he does seem like that type, and that is why his selection was a no-brainer. I mean, the last thing you want when you're trying to kick back and have fun on Spring Break is someone who is uptight and afraid to mix it up, and though I don't know Birdman, he does not look like someone who is uptight and afraid to mix it up. He certainly doesn't play that way, and if even a fraction of his enthusiasm on the court translates to his persona off of it, we're in for a good time. For starters, his tattoo turtleneck would demand attention and respect wherever we went, and since he's a cool eight feet tall to the highest tip of his Mohawk, he would pretty much dominate the beach in every way possible. The only downside I can see is that he wouldn't be able to participate in the group boogie boarding competition out of legitimate fear that he could impale an innocent swimmer with one of the stone spikes of that Mohawk, but that's really no big deal. We can work around it, and if not, Birdman can practice his hypothetical break dancing moves while we're boarding. I imagine them to be so, so sick.
Spring Break Bro No. 4: Marcin Gortat, Phoenix Suns
My family hails from Romania, so I understandably have a bit of a soft spot for Eastern Europeans. I can't help it, and I'm proud to say that Marcin Gortat is right up there at the top of my list. He's badass, and the reason I know this for a fact is because I was recently watching a Suns game, with Marcin on the bench in foul trouble, when my fiancé walked by the TV, looked at it for a second, and asked, "Hey, why isn't the Polish Hammer playing?" This, I think, is not only proof that she is the perfect woman, but also, it's proof that Gortat is the man. And while I'm not quite sure if Marcin would be the type to help out an inebriated stranger on Spring Break, the type to crack a coconut over his head and drink the milk right from the shell just to amuse his buddies, or the type to jump headfirst into the beach-bunny-bench-press competition (where you bench press hot chicks on the beach for a chance to win a Corona T-shirt), I'd certainly like to find out. Whatever his Spring Break profile is, I'm certain it's killer -- not unlike the pick-and-roll he operates with the great Steve Nash -- so the Polish Hammer must make the trip. Uroczystość!
Spring Break Bro No. 5: Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder
Wait, I can explain. Yes, he's surly on the court. Yes, he's cantankerous. And yes, he's temperamental. I get all that. Like my sister once said about KP: "He always has a frown on that punim of his." (That's a Yiddish term used by 80-year-olds, FYI.) She's right, by the way, like she usually is, but call me crazy, I think we can turn that frown upside down. Granted, it might take a special combination of some dynamically awesome Spring Break elements to get him in the right frame of mind, but since they sell funky straw hats everywhere during Spring Break, and since games of limbo are sure to abound on the beach, I think we're in pretty good shape. Don't get me wrong, I'm aware of the challenge we face, because Perk plays the game of basketball like someone peed in his Gatorade, but word on the street is that he's actually a sweetheart of a guy off the court, so I know he has it in him. I bet he'd shock the world and come through with a Spring Break performance for the ages. I imagine it as a triumphant moment in history, not unlike when Tommy finally buys into Andy Dufresne's teaching and earns his GED inside the cold and hollow walls of the Shawshank State Penitentiary. Though now that I think about it, Tommy does get Swiss-cheesed in a pretty brutal manner not long after that, so I guess it's an imperfect analogy. Either way, we all love a challenge, so I'm putting Kendrick Perkins on the squad. The guy has a ring, so I believe in his Spring Break potential, and I also secretly think that he loves to toss the Frisbee around, so I guess everybody wins here.
Well, that was fun, but only in my mind. I'm way too mature to go on an actual Spring Break trip anymore (I'm kidding, I'm just too old), but I don't think I'll ever reach the age where I don't enjoy a good time with my buddies. That's why the dancing socks still get some play now and again, and that's why I always carve out a few days every summer for a random trip with my boys. People get old, but having fun never does, and I think it's important to remember that, especially in the very serious world that we live in today. And, in the spirit of fun, I think it's completely reasonable to look at the NBA players that we enjoy watching on a nightly basis in order to ask the question: "which one of you guys would I like to party with?" My answers are detailed above, for better or worse, and it was a blast every imaginary sun-soaked step of the way.