The Brooklyn Nets clinched a postseason appearance with a Sixers loss to the Nuggets last week, likely to end up somewhere between the four and six seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. This is a meaningful thing for the franchise for several reasons — it’s a success to brag about in their first season since moving to Brooklyn, it’s the franchise’s first postseason cameo of any duration since 2007, and it gets Mikhail Prokhorov one step closer to not having to get married in two years. But for us watching at home, generally uninterested in Brook Lopez set shots and Deron Williams mini-dramas, this is really only good for one reason: Another postseason with Reggie Evans.
Reggie is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s greatest supporting characters. He’s got a ridiculous beard, a weirdly shaped skulll, and a giggly smile that makes it look he’s never more than a minute removed from having farted in front of his coaches and having gotten away with it. And contrary to most players, scoring probably doesn’t make the list of his five favorite things to do on a basketball court — at absolute best, it’s a very distant fifth behind rebounding, setting screens, trash-talking opponents and flopping. He always seems to play his way into big minutes wherever he goes, but he never stays anywhere long. Since being traded to Denver halfway through his fourth season with the Sonics, he’s played for five different teams, and none of them for more than two seasons.
Yet for a guy who probably wouldn’t get his own chapter (and might not even show up in the index) when the history books are written about early 21st century basketball, Reggie Evans has managed to have a surprisingly large impact on a variety of playoff series over the years. This year will mark his sixth time playing in the playoffs, and for his fifth different franchise, and he always seems to leave his mark. He was an unexpected catalyst in the scare the Sixers put into the Pistons in the first round of the ’08 playoffs, posting double-doubles in the first two games and getting the “REG-GIE! REG-GIE!” chant from the Philly faithful, even giving the crowd the ol’ Allen Iverson hand-to-ear “Let me hear it!!” gesture. And he was a huge factor in the Clippers’ seven-game series win over the Grizzlies last year, averaging about nine boards a game off the bench and even finishing a close Game 7 on the floor as future-of-the-franchise forward Blake Griffin rode the pine.
But of course, the most memorable postseason moment from Reggie was not one that can be measured on the stat sheet. It came in Game 4 of the Denver Nuggets’ 2006 first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, where, when tussling with Clippers big man Chris Kaman for a rebound — and rebound-tussling is the area of the game where something like 85 percent of Reggie’s impact is felt — Evans found time to surreptitiously grab a handful of Kaman’s testicles, enraging the young center in to pushing Evans to the ground, and giving the “Inside the NBA” guys something to chortle about after the game. (Ernie: “He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and…” Charles: “Ernie, I don’t know where you get your cookies at…”)
A lot of times, the things JaVale McGee does are incredible for a bad reason. But this is one of those incredible things that’s actually good. And even though JaViggity has done this a coupletimes this season, I think this is his best Snatchblock 20 so far. Doing it to a one-on-one hook shot is just mean.
George Karl has a pretty interesting parlor trick — and no, it’s not knowing what a parlor is, making everyone he’s around run really fast, an ability to kind of look like Gerald Ford or having three first names, though all of those things are true too. This trick, his extra special one, is extra special for a reason.
At the Nuggets’ pregame shootaround Monday, this exchange happened between coach George Karl and some local TV guy.
TV guy: “You scored 64 points in the paint in the Bulls game in Denver. I wouldn’t expect you to get that here at the United Center, would you?”
Karl: “Wanna make a bet?”
Sure enough, Denver scored 64 in regulation time and finished with 68 in its 119-118 overtime victory over the Bulls.
Whoa. I think we have found a glitch in the Matrix. How is this even possible?
Just look at the stats, man. Yeah, the Nuggets lead the league in points in the paint per game, but their league-leading total is only 57.8. Furthermore, the Bulls give up the fifth-fewest points in the paint per game, allowing just 39.0 a game. Not to mention, when you mix the Nuggets’ second-fastest pace with the Bulls’ fourth-slowest, you’d think you’d fall somewhere in the middle where Denver’s offensive stats likely wouldn’t top their averages. Oh, and the Bulls boast one of the league’s top Defensive Player of the Year candidates as their center. Oh, and that center plays the 10th most minutes per game in the entire league.
Given all that, how was George Karl able to predict exactly how many points the Nuggets would score in the paint during regulation? Is he a psychic? Is he a time-traveler? Was this game fixed? Is the question mark the best punctuation mark? There are a lot of questions to be answered and not a whole bunch of easy answers to be had. But if we ever see George Karl wearing Bruce Willis makeup, we’ll know the story.
You might not get to use it that often, but this is exactly why you get a mustache tattooed on your finger — just in case you have that small chance to show it off after you throw yourself an alley-oop off the glass. It’s totally worth having for that scenario and I’m glad JaVale finally got to use it in a game.
And that not everyone hated him for throwing himself an oop. Everything’s different when you play for a winning team.
SuperMascot Rocky shoots backwards halfcourt shots during a fourth-quarter timeout of every game. If he makes one, fans get free Qdoba queso. It’s perhaps the most-popular during-timeout thing they do at Nugget games.
Well, Rocky’s final attempt appeared to be going in, but the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, walking onto the court, jumped up and blocked/goaltended the shot. The arena erupted in boos and fans continued to boo so every time Westbrook touched the basketball.
So that was bad enough, right?
Rocky returned to midcourt again during the next timeout. And Westbrook, again, caught the shot, this time throwing the ball into the stands. The boos became deafening.
To be honest, I’m surprised it wasn’t Rajon Rondo who did this, because it seems like a very Rondo thing to do. Next thing you know, Russell Westbrook will be passing up shots left and right.
I am a human, so sometimes I forget things. Generally, they are small, mostly unimportant things (“Aw crap, I forgot to return ‘Jonah Hex’ to Blockbuster”). Sometimes, they’re slightly bigger, slightly more consequential things (“Aw crap, I rented ‘Jonah Hex’ from Blockbuster”). And occasionally they are very nearly catastrophic things (my biggest blunder remains leaving our weeks-old twin sons at a restaurant table unattended while I went and got sweet tea, which, make sure you know, was as traumatic as watching ‘Jonah Hex’). But still, I remember I was at a sports bar the last week of March 2012, and I remember that because that was the first time I watched JaVale McGee do something HYPER amazing in real time.
In the third quarter of a close (albeit boring) game, McGee swiped in and a stole a lazy pass from Jose Calderon to Andrea Bargnani. Rather than pass it off to his outlet, the lovely Ty Lawson, he instead kept it. He dribbled the length of the floor — he’s nine feet tall, don’t forget — spied that Calderon was the only one that had bothered to get back on defense, cockpunched gravity, then raised up and dunked it from, if I’m remembering correctly, right around halfcourt. Poor Jose Calderon was atomized. I believe they buried him the next day. It was a closed casket funeral.
I love JaVale McGee. I hope you do too. If you don’t, the least you can do is help him remember what he was thinking about earlier. Leave your handiwork in the comments or on our Facebook page.