The Count took me to the cavernous, charm-free Staples Center for a Clippers game last night (more on that later, great 4th quarter effort sparked a comeback win vs. the Thunder), where we had floor level seats across from the Clipper bench. Great perspective, good crowd (Clippers have sold out every home game since February of last year) for a premier matchup of two youthful, energetic teams.
The highlight of the game, however – aside from the kid (Lefty’s friend?) celebrating his 21st birthday who hit a half court shot to win a jeep – was the running commentary of the fan(atic) who sat behind me. Most of the time, this behavior is not only annoying, but intrusive & detrimental to the enjoyment of a game (or anything, for that matter). This time, however, was different. The man, early 40’s and with a vast knowledge of basketball and a voice/delivery that sounded like Jay Pharoah’s Denzel, was so astute in his observations and had such panache & flair. . .
It started with references to the ground-based James Harden, who was deemed “Old Man Game,” perfect for his Wooden Center approach to the sport – an array of crafty dribbling, deft passing, and a set shot lifted from the 60’s. Continuing on to Blake Griffin and his, umm, quirky free throw method, Denzel/Pharaoh launched into a “snap your wrist at the top of your release,” clearly audible in the Staples doldrums. This of course, was followed by a howling “watch this uglyyyy freeee throowwwwww” on another clanger.
What really clinched it for me was the silly crowd-involvement games the Clippers do during timeouts, such as “fan shoots to win prizes.” In this particular case, a nattily attired Angeleno stepped to the court to attempt the usual array of shots: side bank, free throw, three pointer, half court shot for some Chumash Casino Bucks. The man, wearing pristine fat tongue Air Force Ones, was lauded by Denzel Pharoah: “my mans got his sneakers on, he’s got his game kicks.” Sure enough, the dude hit the first three shots and stepped the the three point line for his final attempt, which bricked. The 5% of the crowd that was paying attention to the shenanigans groaned softly, while my man yelled “shouldn’t have had your skinny jeans on,” inciting a small eruption of laughter.
As the Clippers drearily played like a team that had seven consecutive games – sloppy, turnover prone, disorganized, shot clock violations, forced shots – for the first three quarters, Denzel barked out:
“the good thing about these seats is the Clippers go the other way in the second half!” This was followed up by an errant alley-oop attempt, inciting a “Lob City?!?!? More like Lob Nada!!!”
For his final barb of note, during one particularly hideous outfit change by the Clipper Spirit, featuring pants like these:
the ladies ran of the court to the thundering applause of nobody, and perfectly timed, Denzel shouted: “those pants look like blake griffins free throws – UGLY!”
A fun evening for all, specifically the balanced Clippers, who shook the cobwebs in the 4th quarter, outscoring the ice cold Thunder 26-11 (Westbrook only two points post-first quarter, Durant 6 in second half) to take him a win. . .and more importantly, the sixth Playoff Berth in franchise history.