Somewhere in the bowels of the Charlotte Hornets practice facility, seven footers shoot floaters on repeat.
A polar-pale blur of big bodies perfecting interesting ways of throwing a ball at a rim to compensate for both a perceived and real lack of general northward thrust. They confound invisible defenders, who’ve yet to figure out they are guarding giant, caucasian, and significantly less sensual version of mid-2000 teardrop virtuoso, and Desperate Housewife ex-husband, Tony Parker.
See if you can spot the culprits for yourself:
The white guys on the Hornets have a secret handshake: a handshake pic.twitter.com/RdRqWRzkTX— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) November 18, 2015
Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky, and Spencer Hawes — Charlotte’s triumvirate of oddly-skilled big men. The oddness referring not so much to that they are skilled as to how. A collective of former NBA lottery picks, at least one of which maybe (probably?) voted for the President-elect on what would certainly be presented as “intellectual grounds”.
This trio holds Charlotte’ season in the balance — well, no, Kemba Walker and Steve Clifford and Nicolas Batum and Rich Cho do that. But of the the “others”, as Hall-of-Famer and former (current?) law enforcement officer Shaquille O’Neal would say, these three have more power to actually affect than any Charlotte fan could’ve ever reasonably considered.
It’s always compelling and refreshing and just cool to watch athletes who play against type, literally — on the court, and figuratively — off of it. And as far as math and blanket statements are concerned, the big people that play basketball will most likely be more interesting than the small, or even average-sized ones. For example, the latter individual must have a want — like a deep-seated, life-driving want — to play basketball professionally. Kemba Walker (listed height: 6’1’’, real-life height: 5’11’’) didn’t get where he is by having hobbies. The small guys were the ones that as kids, slept with a basketball under there arms (the big guys had no room) — a crystallized version of that old saying, “Ball is Life.”
And it’s great. It’s great to see the passion-obsessed, single-mindedness of players pushing themselves to new and never-before-realized planes of something. But that’s only so much fun. The monolith of ever-upgrading athletic drones is fantastic but not all our professional sports leagues have to offer.
Insert the hand-shakers.
Due to the sheer lack of available 7-foot humans, compared to the sheer volume of that available demographic who find themselves lacing up their size 18’s for a professional basketball team, we can infer that while basketball is extremely important to these people, necessity — or rather lack thereof — dictates they are more likely to have a more normalized relationship with the sport, and therefore may have more to say in a post-game interview other than “both teams played hard, my man” (ironically, a boring quote from seven-foot tall Rasheed Wallace, though in context of the conversation it was compelling in it’s own way at the time — so much so that it continues to be referenced and imitated today on SportsCenter, etc. — you get the point).
Which, is why Frank Kaminsky takes a skittle bath under the supervision of a house-elf. And why Spencer Hawes wants to talk tax-brackets with LeBron James. And why Cody Zeller...well...perhaps deserves a pass in this particular example due to the amount of pain killers he must be on following each game of human elbows to the cabeza.
On the court is no different. They play as it appears they live — differently.
Zeller, drafted to be the next Josh McRoberts — not a phrase you hear everyday — failed spectacularly to become the next in a line of McBob’s, but instead carved out such a unique little niche of defense and ball movement that basketball aficionado Jonathan Tjarks compared him to Warrior Weapon X and premier penis puncher Draymond Green.
Frank Kaminsky, an awkward behemoth when he first arrived on campus in Madison, is now a shockingly nimble stretch-4 defending the Justise Winslow’s of the league and provides the offense with the basketball coordination of a much smaller man.
And finally, Spencer Hawes, essentially the Hornets on-court version of this:
Teams that don’t have transcendent stars need this.
Interesting role players with varying skill sets and physical strengths, bouncing off each other to create an atmosphere of competitive chaos that puts opponents on notice — that everyone here is dangerous, in ways expected and not.
And the shenanigans — that’s what we need. The non-athletes that watch for our own amusement. I want to watch Spencer Hawes get technicals and shoot 3’s until I’m dead because it consistently and reliably accesses my dopamine reserves.
The promise of sports is that we’re going to have a good time. Or that at least we will really care about the time we’re having. For Hornets fans, that time looks to be hellaciously fun.