On a bad night, Marijuana Deathsquads is a band full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. This is the risk of music that relies heavily not on rote performance but on a kind of high-wire act of endlessly unfolding possibilities driven by a couple of things, including faith, instinct, adrenaline, and Ryan Olson, who for tonight has jumbled and crushed more than 600 slam dunk clips together and set them to MIDI triggers in order to cue and manipulate them while two drummers, an endless procession of MCs, and a half-dozen guys with samplers do their best to burn down the Icehouse in Minneapolis on a rainy Wednesday night.
Olson is just a little concerned. A giant screen hovers above the empty drum kits. TVs dot the stage’s corners and another pull-down screen looms over the room from above the entrance. He’s run it through a couple times, but he doesn’t know exactly who is going to be getting up to freestyle or when. It probably won’t be as smooth as he wants it. There are likely going to be a couple car wrecks along the way, but in my experience, a good night for Marijuana Deathsquads is going to involve some car wrecks. Some bruises. A pitchless humming in your bones.
In the never-ending scramble to somehow make the NBA All-Star weekend as exciting as it once was, it doesn't help that its once-marquee event, the Slam Dunk Contest, is now the third most exciting dunk contest on the basketball landscape. Earlier this week, the Powerade Jam Fest, part of the McDonald's All American festivities, took place, and the overgrown man-child teenagers showed out:
Then last night, it was the college kids' turn.
Even before the first dunk was completed, it was clear this would be more exciting than the professional competition.
Andrew Wiggins, for those unfamiliar with his work, is the Canadian basketball sensation who spent this season as the Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year at Huntington Prep. He still has yet to make a decision on where he'll attend school (for six months), but I'd say this 2:55 puts him firmly next to Jadeveon Clowney among candidates for bypassing those pesky NCAA rules. If you don't have a free three minutes, skip to the 2:17 mark. I would describe what happens — if I had any idea how.
Rest easy, everybody. LeBron is not stopping his now-famed pregame dunk routine. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a quick primer: For the past few weeks, the Heat have been holding impromptu dunk contests before games. Because no one gets to Miami Heat games before the third quarter, LeBron’s pregame craziness hadn’t been widely circulated until early this week, when a cell phone video started making the Internet rounds.
So much amazing is happening, and the Shootaround crew is here to help you keep track of it all. You'll find takes on moments you might've missed from the previous night, along with ones you will remember forever. And also ones that happen in zoos.
Shout-out to Grantland copy editor Dave Mesrey, who must have seen this come through his "sea otter dunking" Google Alert. This is the most interesting thing that's happened in basketball today. Hold your head, Terrence Ross. — Chris Ryan
I'm not going to lie to you all — I've been low. Life's hard, ya know? There are times where stuff really starts to pile up, and there's no worse sound than that alarm clock buzzing in your ear, no worse thought than having to put your feet on the floor. But do you know what I do when those mornings come? I think of Timofey Mozgov.
The life and death of Spencer Hawes! Blake Griffin (sorta) switched hands in midair against the Sixers last night. According to the announcers, the crowd went crazy — though given the fact that the crowd was in Philly, this could have been for any number of reasons (fighting over the spoils of a T-shirt cannon, mourning Hip-Hop, Iverson sighting, etc.)
1. David Lee’s unnecessary but appreciated post-fancy-pass spin away from the play.
2. The realization that Kevin Love’s return opens the door for both a T’Wolves whiteout and an all-bearded, zero-defense Minnesota frontcourt.
3. The suspicion that Andrew Bogut was a bit too inspired by Adrien Brody’s look in that Gillete ad.
4. Andris Biedrins. Everything about Andris Biedrins: that he’s the first one off the bench, that his celebration involves lifting one leg off the ground and a pelvic thrust, that there’s more joy in his towel-draped face than I’ve ever experienced.
5. The Barnes stare-down.
6. The chance to tell my Nikola Pekovic story. It goes like this. Apparently, last season, a group of reporters had gathered in the Minnesota locker room, and one inquired about the tattoo on Pekovic’s left arm — what looks to be a knight thrusting a large sword into a pile of skulls. Asked whom the tattoo was supposed to represent, Pekovic responded, “Oh, that’s just my friend.” It sure is.
Remember when I said a couple weeks back how the Pacers needed to make Gerald Green's Blue Angels routine a focal point of their offense? Yeah. That. Best part of this particular jam isn't the stuffing so much as Green's initial dry run at the hoop.
This is immense. Eric Bledsoe streaking down the court, locking eyes with Blake Griffin like they were about to reenact the kiss scene from The Notebook, going way beyond telegraphing a pass to some sort of I don't know, sky-writing of a pass, and then NOPE! DeAndre! Flush! I hope people start doing this to Blake in real life. I want to spot Blake at Yard House, stare DEEP into his eyes, start walking toward him with a napkin and a pen, and then BOOM ask the waitress for her autograph.
I'm going to have to run this by Zach Lowe, but I think this one has legs or at the very least booster rockets. Indiana beat Cleveland in a GAH IT'S ALMOST THE SEASON preseason matchup last night. Gerald Green was +20 in 29 minutes of playing time. I think, when you look at it from a different angle, it's 58 minutes of playing time, because when he's going full #REDBULLSTRATOS like that, time slows down considerably. This comes just a week after the infamous Hansbrough-oop. Frank Vogel, take out your white board; now throw it on the ground, now put on a pair of aviators, dial up some Loggins, and give Gerald Green the thumbs-up. That's your new offense. Deuces.
Let's start by saying some kind words about Ronny Turiaf. Whether on the Lakers, Warriors, Knicks, Wizards, Heat, or now the Clippers, he's always been a hard-working, enthusiastic Wookie who seems content to wave rally towels and heave his barrel chest into any nearby opponent. He appears to be a fine teammate, and one who was even rumored to be Kobe Bryant's friend for a brief stint — or at least in that commercial in which Bryant jumps over an imaginary Aston Martin. Such wonderful qualities aside, this clip from last night's preseason game between Turiaf's Clippers and the Jazz might contain the most disrespectful back-to-back sequence since Requiem for a Dream. Here, Jeremy Evans, last year's dunk contest winner, pikes Ronny's sad jumper to half court and then adds insult to insult by mashing a dunk on his braided dome in transition. To Turiaf's credit, how many players even have the heart to get humiliated on both sides of the court within a five-second period? Good gracious, this is bad.
That happened in Beijing last night, during the Heat's game against the Clippers. Miami won, 94-80. Two things worth noting in the above video: Norris Cole is apparently going as one of Big Daddy Kane's backup dancers for Halloween, and LeBron James is awesome at putback dunks. I don't know that I ever realized how much I truly love his custodial dunks. Let's go to the tape and appreciate him cleaning up other people's messes.