I Didn't Realize the McDonald's Game Was On Last Night
I can’t believe that I wasn’t aware of it prior to flipping on the TV when I got home last night, but as it turns out, last evening was the McDonald’s All-American game, where the nation gets a look at the top high school stars in the country. Unfortunately, it’s being televised at 9pm, so I’m not going to have a chance to do reflections on the game, and the Powerade Jam Fest which is slated to run afterwards (not to worry, my trust DVR has me covered). Maybe sometime this weekend. But for today, I have some general thoughts on the McDonald’s game throughout the years.
I know it’s fashionable these days to say that you hate the McDonald’s All-American game, and other similar high school all-star games, because they in no way resemble well-played basketball. And while it’s true that this isn’t the type of basketball-esque event that I’d like to watch all year long, I still enjoy it because I see it for what it is: a chance to see next year’s top college freshmen showing off and having a bit of fun. Anyone who thinks that an all-star game featuring a bunch of kids who are thrown together for a week should be some epic battle where each team fights desperately to pull out a win is simply missing the point of the game. All-star games are just a fun diversion.
I will readily concede that you can’t actually tell all that much about players from a game like this (which is probably why lots of people hate them). This is for two reasons, really. First, as noted above, the players aren’t really playing a typical competitive game, rather, they’re having a good time playing a meaningless exhibition game, and hoping to show off some of their skills. Second, it’s just one game. Anybody can look great (or horrid) in one game. With that in mind, here’s some of the most ridiculous actual thoughts that I had while watching previous McDonald’s games. I’d explain why most of them are hilarious now, but if you’re reading this, you probably already know.
"Wow, if Jelani McCoy doesn’t become the best player in college basketball in the next two year, something’s wrong."
"Man, I wish mom and dad would excuse me from Easter dinner so that I could go back out an watch more of that Shawn Bradley guy. I hate ham." (back when I was 12, and the game was shown on a Sunday afternoon, instead of in prime-time)
"I think Rudy Gay’s the best guy on the floor right now. He’s just so competitive."
"You know, I had heard about Neil Fingleton’s size, and he is huge, but the incredible thing about him is that he’s so well-proportioned, and doesn’t move like some lumbering giant."
"Wow, Luke "The Rim" Recker might just be the dumbest playful nickname of all time. Those announcers should be shot." (actually, I was pretty much on target with this thought)
and my all time favorite:
"Yeah, Chris Weber is pretty good, but who’s this Cherokee Parks guy? I think I’d rather have him. Duke and Michigan are going to have some epic battles with these guys up front." (Actually, I think this thought came from the Capital Classic. If memory serves me correctly, Parks was much more his usual self in the McDonald’s game.)
Needless to say, I’m never going to be getting a job as a talent scout.
Of course, the real action doesn’t take place in the All-American game, it takes place in the dunk contest. I actually can’t wait to cue this one up (it’s place on ESPN is way too late), because the high school dunk contest is one of the best kept secrets out there. In my mind, it’s better than the NBA dunk contest. The players may not be quite as athletic as the pros, but the high school guys have two things going for them that the pros don’t: 1) they’re young and creative, and 2) they care about winning the dunk-off.
Much like the world of pop music, if you want to see what’s going on in the world of dunking, it’s probably best to look at the teenagers. Some of the best dunks that I’ve ever seen have come in the high school dunk competition. In fact, there’s one that I remember seeing that was so ridiculous, I legitimately question in my mind whether I really saw it, or if an old memory of mine somehow became skewed (I have quite a few far-fetched memories like this, like that time I was working the scorer’s table at a freshman girls basketball game back in high school and saw a player loft a soft 2-footer that came to rest in a physics-defying spot on the front of the rim, or watching a ridiculous TV show when I was 3-years old where a former pro basketball player who was white took a high school coaching job at a predominantly black inner city high school that featured a player simply known as "Salami." Again, both memories seem completely implausible, but my mind still vividly recalls the looks of confusion on everyone’s face during the aforementioned shot, and after years of thinking that I was crazy, I finally have DVD proof that the White Shadow actually existed. So I’m sticking to my stories.).
Sorry about that long parenthetical–anyway, the seemingly implausible dunk that I saw occurred probably 6-8 years ago, and involved a guy who threw the ball so that it bounced off the ground, then off the wall behind the basket (this was back when high school gyms typically hosted the event) before he caught it and slammed it home. Best dunk I’ve ever seen. If you’ve ever seen this dunk, I’d appreciate it if you could confirm for me that it happened. Until then, I’m just going to assume that my mind is playing tricks on me, as I assumed for about 12 years when I didn’t know for sure if The White Shadow ever existed.
That’s it for today. Maybe a quick thought or two for tomorrow, but I’m tied up with some things tonight. And next week the season comes to a close, which is probably good, given that my ramblings get more incoherent by the day.