Kenneth Faried dunks on TMZ

Jed Jacobsohn

TMZ, being TMZ, ran up on a tipsy Kenneth Faried outside a Los Angeles nightclub without knowing who he was or why they were doing it. It went well, at least for Kenneth Faried.

There was, back in 2009, good intelligence suggesting that there would be a TMZ Sports. We are free, today, to imagine what that might have looked like -- the loathing-steeped questions (about Kris Jenner or something) yelped at Rob Gronkowski outside a nightclub and the shouted blue puns about Lindsey Vonn's Instagram account -- because the plan was dead by 2011. We should celebrate this every day.

Original flavor TMZ may always be with us, or at least will be with us for as long as there are both aspiring actors and cameramen willing to wait outside Los Angeles comedy clubs to ask David Spade questions about Amanda Bynes and people who want to hear the answer. (David Spade will, of course, obviously always be willing to answer that question.) In its own horrifying way, TMZ is a pretty much perfect delivery vessel for this sort of wheezing, leering celebrity-related non-information. It's both smugly knowing and clangingly idiotic, powered by scoopy gossip and fully innocent of any actual knowledge, and fully about itself while also transparently hating itself.

This is, however depressingly, exactly the right way to engage a tipsy David Spade on the subject of whether a mentally ill former child actress is still hot -- the two speak the same rancid dialect. But it's no way to talk about sports, at least to people who care at all about sports. While a great deal of television's Protracted Fakey-Fake Sport-Bickering programming is grounded in hacky, loveless judgment, the only reason we could conceivably care in the first place is a certain affection for a game, its players, and the experience of watching both.

TMZ, which has a punnily captioned Octomom upskirt photo where its heart should be, is not for fans. It's for the opposite of fans. Which makes it pretty gratifying to watch Kenneth Faried -- after being waylaid by TMZ in the DMZ between a nightclub and a waiting black sport-utility vehicle -- upend the entire TMZ thing just by being Kenneth Faried.

There's just a lot to enjoy, here, with none of it coming from the ostensible entertainment professionals involved.

There is, for starters, the fact that the dude doing the queasy Dave Grohl impersonation transparently has no idea who Faried is when he starts barking inanities at him.

"How long did it take you for your hair to grow that long?" our reporter asks the back of a tipsy tall person getting into a car. Only later does our guy stop to ask who the long-haired tall person is, and gets the helpful answer -- from Faried himself --"I'm black." Then the TMZ dude asks, "is there any food that you like to eat?" and "what's the secret to running fast?"

That someone asking these questions on purpose still wound up with an interview worth watching is a credit to Faried, who is an endearingly happy and amazingly patient drunk, and mostly to the fact that Faried hijacks the interview at 0:37 by taking the camera from the interviewer and giving it to one of his friends. This is how it's revealed that TMZ's dude did not know who Faried was -- "Are you serious?" one of Faried's buddies asked, "So you were just stalking the black guy?" -- and later that Kenneth Faried is proud of his "yams," as they were depicted on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue, and his penis, which was of course not-depicted in the usual artful Body Issue fashion. Also that Faried considers himself a sexy individual. Faried does all this interview-saving himself, and after having had enough to drink that he tells a fan, unprompted and at 0:18, "I'm drunk."

TMZ can be hilariously transparent -- the URL for this video is "kenneth-faried-naked-dong-huge-espn-playgirl/." It can also be bafflingly hard to figure out. Beyond its general mirthless chuckling misery, there's no possible reason for TMZ's distinctly ... ellipsis heavy -- prose style ... and IDIOSYNCRATIC capitalization. Mostly, though, TMZ is just the curdled thing it is, a drift net floating through the garbage gyre of late-night Hollywood hoping to snag something embarrassing. When it catches a garbage chunk who wants to get caught, it all works as it's supposed to. When it runs into a turnt-up Manimal, it doesn't stand a chance. Bless him.

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