1. UP LIKE THE SHIRT FLYING INTO THE AIR THAT HE WILL NOT WEAR FOR THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS: The Lakers win, and Ron Artest thanks his hood, his psychiatrist, and curses adorably on national television. The Lakers did indeed survive a Rex Grossman line from Kobe Bryant (6-for-24) to win the NBA Finals, and did so by playing what was less a basketball game, and more a rugby match for giraffes.
Fortunately, the Lakers had one man ready on the sidelines, table leg in hand, ready to swing on whatever playground he happened to wake up on that day. Ron-Ron, take the mic.
Let's take it to the white board to see just how Ron Artest made Kevin Garnett's "Anything is Possible*" seem sane in comparison.
LOOK AT HIS EYES. They look exactly like yours would if you went to bed, tucked yourself in, and woke up on the fiery surface of the sun unincinerated and looking for coffee. Someone once described Stonewall Jackson, Civil War general and noted lunatic, as having "kerosene eyes" hinting at a kind of madness. Kerosene might be the wrong fuel here; how about "rampaging oil fire that takes a crew of thousands eight years to put out"? Good? We clear on how insane Ron looks here? Moving on.
HE THANKS EVERYONE IN HIS HOOD. To be fair, this is one of the less surprising things, since Ron did have his Queensbridge tribute two weeks ago, and because this is a common rhetorical gesture used by orators throughout history. Winston Churchill opened every speech he made at Parliament by thanking his hood. Go look it up. It's history and we wouldn't lie about these things.** (Additional note: Churchill was so, so hood.)
HE THANKS HIS PSYCHIATRIST. You might, especially if you are a Boston fan, want to mock Artest and his extremely street image for openly admitting the use of a geeky luxury item like a psychiatrist. First, mental illness is no laughing matter unless we're talking about
Second, in a time when many go without proper health care, it's mad ballerish of Ron Artest to thank not one, but two medical professionals in his postgame speech. Consider it the new gold standard in flossin', and expect Young Jeezy to begin bragging about how his wealth has enabled him to not only have a primary care physician, but also a dermatologist, a podiatrist, and an OB/GYN for all the lucky ladies who get the babies he's making. Ron-Ron is setting trends and you don't even realize it: that's how far ahead of the game he is.
HE SAYS HOLY F--- IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. On national television. FCC, you're too scared of him to do anything, because if he'll wade into the stands in Detroit, he won't hesitate to thrash a room full of nannying DC lawyers and people-bots.
HE REPS HIS SINGLE. Composure: champions have it, and Artest not only hit a three late, but remembered to pimp his single "Champion" in the middle of it. When a nervous stewardess steps out of the cockpit and asks if someone can fly the plane, Ron Artest's hand will go up, y'all, and you will be too frightened to suggest he is wrong.
A STUNNED DORIS BURKE RECEIVES A HUG. You can hear here feebly say "I'm just letting him go" to the studio, helpless in the tractor beam of Artest's mad hatter charisma before Artest says "I HIT THE THREE!" like a kid saying "I WON THE SOAPBOX DERBY AND THE CAR WAS FAST AND THEN WE GOT TO HAVE CANDY YAY CANDY." He then hugs her, and not in any manner you or I would call a church hug. That is a full-on manic glee-crush by Artest, who mobs Burke like an excited child clutching a puppy.
AWESOME RON-RON PICTURE INCLUDED FOR NO REASON BESIDES ITS OWN VALUE:
Just a bravura performance all around by Artest here, whose spotlight moment in postgame may be the only consolation for those otherwise bored by watching the NBA's aristocrats--33 championships between them--stagger through a sloppy seven game series and fight over yet another trophy (yawn) in their frilly sleeves and powdered wigs. Did you just imagine Derek Fisher with a huge George Washington wig on? You should have, because that image is hilarious.
2. UP LIKE THE SOUND OF TEN THOUSAND HORNS BLARING SIMULTANEOUSLY: The Mighty Vuvuzela Blows Whether You Like It Or Not. The World Cup's most discussed storyline thus far has not been the action on the field--an offensive anemia discussed below--but the din surrounding it, made by thousands of African soccer fans tooting away on the beloved/cursed horn known as the vuvuzela. The internet has noticed it too, and has made a few subtle, tasteful commentaries on it, including the following animation.
Wimbledon preemptively banned them this week, Yankee Stadium does not smile on them, and you likely have an opinion on them and that's just dandy. Sepp Blatter says they stay, and in case you didn't know Sepp Blatter is a kind of minor deity who commands enough fear to make others use certain kinds of bottled water to make the ice that goes into his bottled water.
Even if you did have a say in these things--and this being FIFA dealing with a huge crowd of Africans in their home country, you most certainly do not--the thrumming buzz of the vuvuzela does perform a valuable service in identifying the inflexible dullards around you who find ketchup too spicy and think of a three day jaunt to Sandals as real cutthroat adventure.
The vuvuzela is so insanely African it hurts, a cacophonous, atonal belch repeated at irregular, improvised rhythms for the entirety of a match not out of the desire to distract an opponent, but just... well, just because you're there, alive, and watching soccer instead of doing one of the thousand other dreary things you could be doing instead. The vuvuzela might drive you insane, but it is two things inarguably: fair and not yours.
This is the African World Cup, and though you can mob the sponsors (as FIFA has done), botch ticket sales and leave plenty of empty seats (as FIFA has done), and make players use a beach ball instead of a proper soccer spheroid (see next item), you cannot take the locality out of the equation altogether. The vuvuzela is the audio equivalent of the parquet floor in Boston, the bright orange paint of Florida Field, and the ivy at Wrigley, a sign that the game is being played not just anywhere, but somewhere unique and different from somewhere else.
For those who can't stand a little part of the sporting world that is not homogenized for yourweak palate, we'll again let the vuvuzela do the talking for us here. (Warning: opening that link will cause a seizure.)
3. UP LIKE A KICKED BALL INTO THE 30th ROW OF THE STANDS: Low Scoring And The Jabulani At The World Cup. After much panic over the opening round of games and the paltry 1.5 goals per game scored using FIFA's "Jabulani" ball, the scoring in the second round has increased, both because players are getting a feel for the beach-ball physics of the Jabulani and because teams that drew in the first round out of sheer conservatism are now having to you know, actually attempt to score. This trend will only continue as players adapt and France crashes out of the Cup entirely, thus raising the goal average by removing their dysfunctional and anemic attack from the stats.
(This really has nothing to do with France. I just wanted to mention how awful they were because it feels so right and good to do it. They're horrible this year. <----shivers with frisson of pleasure.)
4. DOWN LIKE A SPANIARD DROWNED IN HUGE FONDUE POT: Spain Loses To Switzerland. The upset of all upsets in the World Cup thus far, tiny, defensive-minded Switzerland stifled one of the prohibitive Cup favorites for 90 plus minutes, shut down David Villa, and happily feasted on one of the rankest scrap-meat goals you will ever see in beating Spain 1-0 in Group H play. The Spanish fans, being logical, sane sorts, blamed the goalie's girlfriend, who in standing behind the goal in her capacity as reporter covering the team was simply too beautiful, and thus distracted the team from their duties on the field.
Spanish fans hope to rectify this by posting pictures of Franck Ribery behind goal to help their hopelessly lusty boys succeed in their next match against Honduras on Monday.
If this tactic works as it should, Spain will score eight goals against Honduras in the first half.
5. SOARING HIGH LIKE TEXAN REVENUES: Conferencegeddon Averted. The ballyhooed revolution engulfing college football--the Pac 10 expanding to 16 teams at the expense of the Big 12, the Big Ten fighting to get the Texas into line, the SEC poaching Texas A&M, the WAC adding several MLS teams and a CFL team just for the hell of it--evaporated in the manner that most proposed revolutions do.
In a fizzling denouement this past Monday, Texas announced it would maintain its primo seat at the Big 12 trough despite the departure of Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-10. As many a wag has pointed out, this now means the Pac-10 has 12 teams (after the addition of Utah), the Big Ten has 12, the Big 12 has ten, and why are you pointing this out MATH IS FOR COMMIES, COMMIE.
This resulted in very little fundamental change overall for college football, but did get an athletic director to call up a rude emailer and threaten to beat him to ribbons, so we all win in that sense.
6. UP LIKE A PHIL MICKELSON SHOT INTO THE DEEP BLUE PACIFIC: Tiger Woods At The US Open. Has he hit three spectators as he did in his previous tournament? Mercifully no. Has he been heckled? Mildly, if you consider "you made it our business" to be serious heckling, which only golfers, golf fans, and old ladies in purple hats do. Ernie Els at least is at the forefront of making golf somewhat more interesting, since the South African favors the addition of vuvuzelas to the morose fairways of the PGA. Woods would naturally oppose this, but it could be a boon to stifling Tiger's hecklers, since it's difficult to make jokes about someone's horrorshow of a private life with a plastic horn glued to your lips.
(Mickelson, meanwhile, is busy feeding the creatures of the sea tasty golf balls.)
7. DOWN LIKE A HEINOUSLY UNFAIR CURVEBALL: Stephen Strasburg, Yawning Given. Two games, an average of 11 Ks a game, and yeah, you can begin taking Stephen Strasburg for granted, Nats fans. That's understandable given the long and successful history of the Nats, and how pampered their fans have been. Trade him! He's clearly underperforming already. O-VER-RA-TED. (clap clap clapclapclap)
8. UP LIKE A FOOT READY TO KICK A PRONE MAN ON THE GROUND: Albert Haynesworth and Daniel Snyder Face Off In the Most Unlikeable Duel Of Wills Ever. Albert Haynesworth has Daniel Snyder's money and still isn't showing up to mini-camp, the Redskins might want some of it back, and now you are caught in the bind of choosing sides between the NFL owner Most Likely To Charge Starving Beggars A Service Fee For Spare Change Delivery and Stampy the Elephant.
You can't win, but you can hope Haynesworth and Jamarcus Russell meet at a Waffle House to see who can eat their signing bonuses first. You say, "Spencer, how could someone spend tens of millions of dollars at a Waffle House?" Answer: because the Waffle House is incidental, and they will actually be eating the money covered in butter and syrup.
9. DOWN LIKE YOUR SEXUAL AVERAGE TEN MINUTES AFTER THE FIRST TIME YOU HAD SEX: Ubaldo Jimenez Is On Pace To Win Every Game He Pitches For The Rest Of His Life. I adore faulty statistical extrapolations as much as anyone does. For instance, during this piece I had somewhere around six or seven cups of coffee over the course of three hours. When I finish my 26th cup shortly before bed tonight, my kidneys will shoot from my back, put all of their stuff in a bandana tied to the end of a stick, and run away from me forever to live as hobos on the railroad. Oh, and Ubaldo Jimenez is totally winning 30 games because he's already won 13, because that's how numbers work.
10. DOWN LIKE TOM IZZO AND BLOGGERS: The New LeBron James Orbiting PR Death Star And Speculation Machine Sponsored By Nike And The Death Of The Rust Belt. After Tom Izzo shot down the Cavs and railed at bloggers this week, the LeBron-o-meter is pointing towards serious trouble for Cleveland, and for a summer of continual tweedling on about how LeBron would be perfect playing in [INSERT YOUR CITY HERE]. Wait, they've got Whoopi Goldberg? THE WHOOPI GOLDBERG? Throw in a signed DVD of Sister Act 2, New York, and you've just clinched the deal!
EXITING THE POLL THIS WEEK: Zach Randolph, drug kingpin; New York gets a Super Bowl; college basketball is corrupt (especially Kansas ticketing practices); the French Open; Oguchi Onyewu's knee.
*Anything except traveling faster than the speed of light, immortality, pulling exactly one wipe out of the baby wipes box at a time, and Boston fans mentioning Kendrick Perkins' absence as an excuse for getting outrebounded 52-39, something Bill Simmons laid the groundwork for by doing it at 11:48 p.m. EDT last night, because Kendrick Perkins is the greatest rebounder of his generation and NO ONE DENIES THIS. Kevin Garnett thumped his chest, mouthed a string of random profanities, and delivered an intense stare to a three year old sitting on his father's lap while you were reading this and somehow still lost the NBA Finals.
**Yes we would.