First, it was Ronny Turiaf with the Los Angeles Lakers (and, later, the Clippers). Then, it was Robert Sacre following in Turiaf's excited forum-blue-and-gold footsteps. And now, California's other NBA team has an energetic end-of-the-bench champion all its own.
Ladies and gentlemen, please meet rookie Kent Bazemore, who's logged just 28 minutes of floor time for the Golden State Warriors this year, but has burned plenty of calories on the Oracle Arena sideline:
Smooth moves, rook. I'm not sure which I like best — the teeter-totter biceps flex after a Golden State big makes a strong move in the paint or the long stride, exaggerated stretch and vaguely Munsonesque bowling motion of the 3-point celebration — but really, when you're talking about greatness, "best" is merely a matter of degrees anyway.
Now, YouTube user LilPharmacist11 isn't the first to notice Bazemore's cheerleading contributions — The Nextians broke down the Old Dominion product's commitment to excellence a few weeks back, and sharp-eyed Warriors fans have been lauding Bazemore as an under-the-radar challenger to Turiaf and Sacre for a while. But now, with the Warriors sitting at 22-10 and coming off a thorough spanking of the Pacific Division-leading Clippers on Wednesday, more attention's being paid to the entire Bay Area bunch, including its celebratory spark.
Justin Taylor of SFBay.ca offered a few words in praise of Bazemore's infectious energy on Friday morning:
Kent Bazemore’s ridiculous 12th-man enthusiasm has spread through the whole bench. His reaction to damn near every good play has become almost as entertaining as the play itself.
You can’t underestimate the value of a bench that is completely enthusiastic and engaged from tip-off to the closing buzzer. This undrafted rookie has been the catalyst for this phenomenon, which is why the team only ships him to Santa Cruz for one night at a time.
When the team has sent the 6-foot-5 guard to its D-League affiliate, he's performed well, averaging 23 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.75 steals on 49.3 percent shooting in four games with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Bazemore's quick release and evident talent for getting buckets recently led Keith Schlosser of D-League blog Ridiculous Upside to suggest that, while he "hasn't quite gotten his chance yet in The Association [...] his time will come."
Hopefully not too quickly, though. We could stand to watch a few more hours of celebration supercuts like these, and we can only hope that Turiaf, Sacre and the rest of the NBA's little-used reserves will step their game up in recognition of a bar-raising new contender.