June 10, 2011
At some point next month, either Charles Barkley or Dan Le Batard will be in a Speedo bathing suit, and pictures will be taken. The whole thing will be documented. Likely stuck in the throes of a lockout, we'll have to cover it. And … why? At long last, have you no sense of decency, America?
Because that's the bet between the notoriously (and annoyingly) provincial Le Batard and the admittedly Heat-hatin' Charles Barkley. Mavs win, and DLB takes to the suit. Heat wins, and Chuck straps up. Everyone loses, in the end.
We've had our differences through the years, but you have to respect the writing talent and eager mind of Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard. The man could sit fat and sassy on his national TV appearances, barely lifting a finger while awaiting his turn in the makeup chair, but instead he works his tail off at learning the new ways of analyzing the games he's charged to cover. And often, when he's on, he comes through with stuff like this, about LeBron James(notes) during Game 5:
You have two choices there, and only two. You can be buried beneath all that, or you can soar above it. James made his way to the basket, a seven-footer extraterrestrial shuffling in front of him, bringing all that Dallas noise and a referee's whistle with him, and in that one subjective moment, as the ball went in the basket and that seven-footer went flying and James looked for the call, basketball's judge pointed the other way.
Offensive foul. There goes the tie, the lead, the game and the series cushion - all the other way, in the echo of a whistle. The questions? The doubt? Those won't be going anywhere for the moment. It happened in a split second, what may or may not have been an offensive foul, happened in less time than it took you to get this far in this sentence. So fickle, this game. So cruel. So fun. Unless you are at the epicenter of it - feeling all alone with your talent, which is substantive, but also with your burden, which is just as large.
That's one side of the guy. The other side? It does things like this:
Miami Herald columnist and radio personality Dan Le Batard challenged Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley to a disturbing bet. Le Batard interviewed Barkley, a personal friend, during his drive-time radio show on 790 The Ticket before Thursday's Game 5 and civil discourse quickly dissolved.
Le Batard and Barkley agreed that if the Mavericks lose the Finals, Barkley will wear a Speedo on South Beach while being interviewed on the radio show. If the Heat loses, Le Batard will wear the Speedo.
Dan? Charles? When the word "disturbing" can get through the editing process, then this is disturbing. Usually newspaper editors don't allow a comment like that to be tossed in unless someone's drunk uncle dons his drunk aunt's wedding dress, and decides to drive through town on a riding mower, while handing out pamphlets that go into great detail about stuff you can never unlearn. That's "disturbing." And so is this bet.
In the wake of Thursday's brilliant Game 5, scores of NBA fans have gushed unabashedly, hoping for a series that will never end, a season that will never stop. With an incident like this hanging in the balance, however, I think it David Stern's duty to make sure that this series becomes a best of 70. Because we have to stave off this Speedo spectacle as long as humanly possible.
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