What’s up? Thanks to The Blowtorch for putting me on.
So when Goathair asked me to write about the NBA player I’m most embarrassed to find myself rooting for, my first instinct was “Who is the worst player I’ve rooted for?” I quickly decided it was Zendon Hamilton.
Good old Zendon was a star at St.John’s, alongside another one of my favorite scrubs of all time, Felipe Lopez. I rooted for Felipe because he was supposed to be the Latino Jordan; soon I would find myself rooting for Zendon. He reminded me of my own basketball style, if I had one – a lanky, tall, left-handed guy who drew a lot of fouls because of his awkward delivery. A lot of fouls. About 10 FTAs a game, and I’m fairly certain that by the end of his four years at St. John’s he was #1 in Big East history (or pretty close to it) in free throws attempted.
But then I realized something… I’m not embarrassed to have rooted for Zendon. So I had to think harder, and the question became tougher to answer.
I asked Canadian DJM for some help.
“Who was the most embarrassing player you ever rooted for, DJM?”
Hard to argue with him. So I thought about the scrubs that I’ve rooted for over the years just because they were wearing the Knick uniform.
“You root for the Knicks,” DJM tells me. “You shouldn’t have a hard time finding someone embarrassing that you cheer for!”
Perhaps. But the truth is I’m not embarrassed that I root for these guys. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. My boy E-Wonder suggested a great one, though:
“Kiki Vandeweghe. I used to love him when he was on Denver, dropping 25 ppg. Then he came to the Knicks and just sucked.”
Yeah. I rooted for him, too. Enough that I could spell his last name right, without looking it up. But he was injured. You can’t blame me for rooting for him, after all he was doing in Denver, right? So why should I have been embarrassed… I had good reason to believe in him. Plus I was really hoping he would take Scott Layden’s place as GM.
Sometimes you over-think things. I relaxed a bit, and mediated on the players that I had no business rooting for. Usually if I’m rooting for a non-Knicks, it’s because he’s either a fantasy star for me, or a NBA Live star for me. An example of the latter would be Bryan “Big Country” Reeves, who never did anything of note in the NBA, but who I will always remember for his NBA Live 95 (or whatever year it was) prowess. And then answer came to me:
Air Pussy! Of course.
Every year in my fantasy league, I get “stuck” with Vince Carter. Half of my league hates him so much they won’t draft or trade for him, even for cheap. The other half of the league is aware of this, and so that deflates his trade value, which in turn means they don’t want to get stuck with him. So I end up taking him every season. And rooting for him.
But you know what? Over the years I’ve become a fan of Vince Carter. He’s progressed from an exciting player who could dunk over anyone (even a 7’2 Frenchman), a player who held the promise of being the next Jordan so tantalizingly close to his hands… to becoming the player who is now, a forgotten star, even on his own team at times. Yet I like him more now than ever.
He’s a psychological anomaly in the NBA. He’s truly inexplicable. Some nights he’ll just give up, and walk off the court with an injury or something, showing absolutely no toughness. Of course he’s embarrassing to root for… he’s Air Pussy!
But he’s also prone to displaying that great potential, sometimes at the most random times. He’s almost completely random in terms of when he chooses to step up, and when he chooses to quit. You can’t predict him. I’ve been following him on a daily basis for five years now, and he’s numbers… well, you never know with Vince. At one point this season he will go on one of his tears, and drop like 30 points for 5 straight games, while shooting over 45% from the field, driving enough to go to the line about 10 times a game, and picking up around 10 boards and 5 assists. He will, guaranteed.
And at some point this season he’ll literally limp off the court with a sprained uterus. He undoubtedly will.
And I won’t care. Because when he’s on, he’s the most exciting player in the game, the only one who can compare to Kobe. He can score from anywhere on the court, can shoot over a double team, with limitless range. Or he take it in hard and absorb the contact, and still hang in the air long enough to finish the play. He can rise above it all.
And I will be rooting for him all season long. Even if I should be ashamed.