Thursday, May 28, 2009

Frustration Guaranteed

Mo Williams needs to buy LeBron James a new Escalade. Or a Hayabusa motorcycle. Or a private jet. Whatever, as long as it's something very large and something very expensive, because LeBron just postponed Mo looking like yet another in a long parade of dumb athletes who make "guarantees" that their opponents won't let them cash.

Granted, Mo did his part for the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals, throwing in 24 himself and, for once, only needing 14 shots to do it, but LBJ drained 17 by himself in the fourth, rolled up his fourth playoff trip-dub, plus he forced Dwight Howard's disqualification. Mo, for his part, is a big reason the Cavs won 66 games this year, but in this Orlando series, he's been the anchor around LeBron's neck. 23 of 71 shooting, with 6 of 27 from deep, coming into Game 5. Maybe I missed something, but when did Mo Williams turn into Allen Iverson?

As far as the guarantee goes, it's not quite as boneheaded as Anthony Smith pouring gasoline all over himself and handing Tom Brady a book of matches, but coming from a guy who hadn't hit water from the deck of a cruise ship for the past week, it still seemed somewhat rash. It's also Mo's first rodeo in this arena, and hopefully he's smart enough to make it his last, unlike serial prognosticator/Orlando assistant coach Patrick Ewing, who just got bailed out by his team last round writing checks that someone else's ass had to cash.

In a sure sign that most former college athletes only pretend to go to class, so many guys aren't smart enough to realize that making these guarantees is a complete no-win situation. Ever since Joe Willie sat poolside in his swim trunks and laughed off being an 18-point underdog from an "inferior" league going into the biggest football game in history to that point, it's been ruined for everyone else. Star player making the boast, not some scrub role player? Check. Big game which was worth making a bold statement about? Check. Laughably big point spread making prediction all the bolder? Check. Team going out and backing player's mouth up? Check. We forget that Matt Snell did all the work in Super Bowl III because Namath shooting his mouth off is THE iconic moment in Super Bowl history. It got him the Super Bowl MVP award, scored him some hot tail, and even got him into Canton...because Lord knows he didn't have the stats for it. But after that...who can compare? The only recent occurrence that might have been able to approach Joe is if Eli Manning had gone out and guaranteed that he'd torch the Patriots, then gone out and done it with a five-TD game.

Eventually, the Kevin Smiths or Anthony Smiths of the world will realize that there is very little upside to these guarantees and one of two things will happen. 1) They'll stop making them (not likely); or 2) They'll start putting their money where their mouth is (as likely as Susan Boyle appearing in Playboy...dear God, let's hope that's unlikely). It's sad for all these macho athletes that a women's basketball player is a bigger man than any of them. (Quiet, you.) By all accounts, Courtney Paris is still looking to give back her scholarship money for Oklahoma's Final Four loss even if, at a WNBA rookie's salary, it will take her longer to repay than it would take your average Starbucks manager.

Granted, no sports guarantees carry quite the same weight as, say, Kaiser Wilhelm or my personal favorite, John Sedgwick. (#5 on the linked list, in case you're the tl;dr type.) We're not changing world history here...anymore. Because, let's face it, Joe made this shit cool. Problem is, making it cool means every schmuck out there is gonna wanna do it. But without Joe's sense of occasion, it's about like wearing a tuxedo to a rodeo...99% of the time, you just look stupid.

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