I was thinking about The Lion King recently, and I was doing so because I was watching basketball highlights on YouTube. More specifically, I was watching Brook Lopez highlights. And even more specifically, I was watching the play from this past December when he dunked on his brother Robin.
With 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Brook received an inbounds pass at the Nets 3-point line as Robin guarded him. Brook turned, scanned the floor, then waited for Bojan Bogdanovic to come get the ball from him. Jimmy Butler, an excellent defender and also a very beautiful man, snuffed out the handoff play perfectly, though, and so Brook, the clock winding down, decided to handle things himself.
He swung the ball forward, took one big dribble and even two bigger steps toward the rim, gathered himself and the ball, then jumped. Robin, who I can’t even imagine how many times he’s defended that exact same move in games of Gigantic One-on-One between the two, played it all perfectly. He was right there with Brook, ready to block the shot and preserve the victory for the Bulls. Except he didn’t. Brook electro-dunked it down on Robin’s head, hanging on the rim just long enough to make things even more dramatic. It was brother vs. brother, one looking to basketball-kill the other one so he could gain supremacy, and so that’s what Brook did. He was the Scar to Robin’s Mufasa.
Brook Lopez Lion King’d Robin Lopez.
Sidebar: The first thing I think of when I think about The Lion King is pornography. I wish that were not the case, given that it’s such a lovely and wonderful movie, but it is. It’s because when I was 12 years old (which is when the movie came out) a buddy of mine named Bobby and I plotted to go see it during a weekend I was spending at his place, but what ended up happening is we did some work at a corner store to earn money for tickets, and the guy there ended up paying us by giving us a copy of Hustler, which, I think the best way to describe that magazine is to say it’s like a meaner version of Playboy. At any rate …
I like the “[PLAYER] ___________’d [PLAYER]” thing as a template. Let’s do six more.
During a Jazz-Celtics game a few weeks ago, Isaiah Thomas, tiny and perfect, drove into the lane against Joe Johnson and Rudy Gobert, together nearly 14 feet of human. Isaiah jumped, and there was Johnson on one side of him ready to block the shot should it come his way, and Gobert on the other side ready to the block should it come his way. They had Thomas completely hemmed up. It wasn’t fair, really. And yet, the play ended with Thomas somehow flipping the ball up past them both, spinning it off the backboard into the rim for a bucket. Johnson and Gobert just stood there, beaten, in stunned disbelief that they’d been defeated by an elementary-school-sized student; in stunned disbelief that Isaiah Thomas had Home Alone’d them.
Did you ever see Eraser? It’s an old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. He plays John Kruger, a U.S. marshal who specializes in making people disappear. (He erases them, as it were.)
Did you ever see the play where Cody Zeller tries to dunk on Joel Embiid? It’s an old Embiid highlight where he knocks the stuffing out of Zeller’s ears. Joel Embiid plays Joel Embiid, an NBA player who specializes in making dunks disappear.
Any time that you start out going for a dunk and then end up in this position …
… that’s how you know you just got Eraser’d.
This is a sad one: In the most recent Warriors-Clippers game, which, same as always, was less of a game and more of one of those old-timey torture methods where someone gets pulled apart by horses, Draymond Green threw a million ninja stars at Paul Pierce’s eyeballs. It wasn’t even one minute into the game and Green, who was setting up for two Blake Griffin free throws, started shouting at Pierce, who was standing in the Clippers bench area. Green barked, “Chasing that farewell tour — they don’t love you like that,” and he was of course talking about Pierce retiring after this season. “You can’t get no farewell tour, they don’t love you like that. You ain’t got that type of love. You thought you was Kobe?” Pierce, that poor guy, he just stood there and took it, absorbing all that heartbreak and destruction. Draymond Green Precious’d* him, and it was so, so sad.
*If you can’t open that YouTube link because you’re at work, let me tell you what it is. It’s a link to the scene in Precious where the mom, played by Mo’Nique, crushes her daughter, played by Gabourey Sidibe. It’s this big fight between the two, the most devastating part of it being when Mo’Nique launches into a tirade after a woman shows up to talk about her daughter continuing on in school. It’s hard to watch.
The first week of February, the Cavs and the Wizards played in Washington. It was a fantastic game highlighted by several incredible moments. One of the best was Kyrie Irving’s breakdown of Bradley Beal right before the final minute of overtime, which came only a handful of seconds after Beal hit a 3 to give the Wizards a two-point lead.
Kyrie had the ball at that right-wing 3-point line area he likes so much. It was just him versus Beal, as all of the other Cavs cleared out to the other side of the floor to give him space. So Irving began to dance. He dribbled through his legs twice, did that Jason Williams–Fake-Shot-Back-Into-a-Dribble move to get Beal off balance, began to dribble by him, cut back hard in the opposite direction only to cut back the other way again immediately, got to the spot he wanted, pump-faked Beal into the air, and leaned forward to shoot a jumper as Beal tried to avoid fouling him. The ball sank neatly through the rim. It was a brilliant bit of skittering about for Kyrie, and an absolute shredding of poor Beal’s ligaments and tendons.
Trying to guard Kyrie in the final moments of a close game is no less harrowing than waking up in a torture dungeon. Kyrie Irving Hostel’d Bradley Beal that game*.
*On the next play down the court for the Cavs, Kyrie took Beal to that same spot on the floor, then drained a pull-up 3 over him that essentially won the game for the Cavs. Kyrie Irving is a real movie villain.
The Knicks are down in the fourth quarter, because the Knicks are always down in the fourth quarter. Carmelo shoots a jumper. It hits the back of the rim, then ricochets all the way out to the free throw line. John Wall, a sports car in a basketball jersey, grabs the rebound, then turns around and accelerates. The only player standing between him and an uncontested layup is Knicks guard Brandon Jennings.
Wall pushes the ball forward over to his left hand, baiting Jennings into thinking he’s headed left. Jennings turns his feet and his shoulders that way and that’s very much the end of him. Wall sees Jennings has bit, grabs the ball with his left hand and swings it around his back. He’s headed in the opposite direction that Jennings is facing. Jennings, now living inside of an absolute nightmare, reaches for Wall, hoping to at least grab him and foul him. Wall is too far away, though, so Jennings only gets air. Wall redlines his engine and speeds away. It seemed a fair fight, the Wall vs. Jennings race, but Wall was just too fast, too smart, too savvy for Jennings. He Fast and the Furious’d him.
Ben McLemore had the ball. He knew he had it. It was safe in his hands. There was no place safer. He was holding it and he was facing everyone else on the court. He could see everything. He could see all the angles. No surprises could get to him. Because he had the ball. He knew it was safe. He just knew there was no place safer. And then, all of a sudden, almost at once, it was gone. He didn’t have it anymore. Kawhi Leonard had it. Kawhi Leonard Ocean’s Eleven’d him.