Whether you're an East Coast die-hard who refuses to turn in before the final buzzer or a fibbin'-to-Shamgod punk like me lucky enough to write about athletics on the Internet, you know that things can get grim during blowouts.
When there's little left to be decided on the court but plenty of time remaining on the clock — see: the second halves of the Dallas Mavericks' lopsided victory over the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers' even-more-lopsided triumph over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night — you need something to keep your attention and prevent the kind of down-the-rabbit-hole Web spelunking that ends with you checking the availability of dope domains like chillcamels.com.
And because there's only so many Bango clips you can show (NOTE: This is false; you can always show more Bango clips), Wikipedia informs us that the challenge to hang onto viewers' eyeballs leads play-by-play announcers to "keep a stock of relevant informative discourse for such events." There are plenty of names for it — "feature filler," "press-row padding," "announsense," "Ashy Larry" — but I call it "blowout banter."
Problem: Having two, 20-plus-point whitewashes in the same night forces announcers to burn through an awful lot of the collected material in the aforementioned stock just to get to the postgame show. What if there's another stinker Wednesday night, before something super newsworthy happens? Does Ian Eagle have to pull guard on LeBron James and use his world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu game to slap a kimura on his vulnerable right elbow just to help everybody pass the time? That seems like a horrifying and actionable turn of events that's best avoided, if possible.
Solution: We've come up with some relevant discussion ideas that can not only burn through late-game boredom, but also, if properly executed, grow the NBA's viewing audience (as we understand it, it could use the boost).
• Discuss your world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu game, explaining how and for how long you've developed it, referencing any NBA players that may have expressed an interest in mixed martial arts training and estimating how long it might take to render Earl Barron unconscious with a rear naked choke. (NOTE: Ian Eagle only.)
• Talk about FIFA's decision to replace K'naan's "Wavin' Flag" with Shakira's "Waka Waka" as the official song of the 2010 World Cup. Kinda stinks, doesn't it? Or does it? (See what I mean? Hot sports takes! You can get through one or two Tony Allen-helmed possessions with this, easy.)
• Which is the better basketball-themed and urban-America-set movie: "Above the Rim" or "Sunset Park"? And why? SUBQUESTION: Who would win in a one-on-one game of "I'm-Pretending-to-Play-Basketball-but-Don't-Really-Have-a-Ball-in-My-Hands-and-This-is-All-in-My-Head-Because-I'm-Kind-of-a-Crazy-Person" — Terrence Howard's "Sunset Park" character Spaceman or Leon's "Above the Rim" character Shep?
• Ask Reggie Miller about what it was like growing up being physically dominated by his big sister Cheryl, perhaps the greatest women's basketball player ever. The subsequent awkward silence and occasional muffled moans should get you to the next TV timeout.
• Talk about how Pau Gasol is from Spain, then ask your broadcast partner if he knows what Spain's Gross National Product is. When he answers, "Marc Gasol," act surprised and ask why he said that. When he replies, "Because Marc Gasol is a pretty gross national product," laugh buoyantly, feel satisfied at how well you played the straight man there and then check in on the score.
• Six words: "Stephon Marbury. What's the deal with that?"
• Try to guess the five jokes that Kyrylo Fesenko allowed himself to make that day.
• While acknowledging that violence is no laughing matter and that workplaces should always maintain a professional atmosphere, speculate as to how funny it would be to watch John Paxson and Vinny Del Negro fight.
You've got to admit, stuff like that'd make a 30-point game at 12:45 in the East seem a lot more interesting. Let's hear yours in the comments.