AJ Daulerio's Cultural Oddsmaker runs every Friday. Email him to let him know what you think.
Since the Super Bowl ended and the swirling madness of March has yet to come upon us, those interested in professional sporting activities have had limited big-time events to occupy our time, evidenced by "SportsCenter"'s increased NASCAR coverage over the last few days. The one event earmarked to break up the doldrums has been the NBA All-Star Game, which promised to be even more of a glitzy, half-court alley-oop, behind-the-back pass spectacle than usual, thanks to its relocation in Las Vegas. David Stern braced himself for gambling blowback, hooker buffets, and all of the other sinful accompaniment that could potentially derail this firecracker weekend, only to have John Amaechi's gayness and Tim Hardaway's allegiance to the Westboro Baptist Church tripwire the event before any of the players even sasquatch their way on to the Vegas tarmac.
Now, Stern has a public relations staff working overtime to ensure that anyone affiliated with the NBA has to keep their comments about the Hardaway/Amaechi slap-fight to a minimum - or else, like Hardaway, face league banishment for expressing views not representative of the NBA's "No, no - we LOVE homos!" stance. Right now, Stern is probably praying for somebody to start blasting at Michael Jordan's Birthday party at the Bellagio. In this world, it's much easier to sidestep thuggery than gay bashing.
But is there a way to move away from the issue and keep the focus on the All-Star excitement? Some adjustments will have to be made.
So, today, I'm pulling out my vintage 1984 University of Hawaii jersey, making my best Johnny Weir dunk face and calculating the odds on what'll happen this weekend as a result of Hardaway's statements.
Show me your killer crossover, after this jump.
Tim Hardaway Goes to Rehab: 1/2
This is the world we live in. Regardless if Tim Hardaway has even taken one sip of Hennessey in his life, it'll probably be recommended that he spend some time away from everybody to "work through his issues" and find out where the origins of his misguided hatred come from. Soon after, we'll see Hardaway attending LGBT meetings and Act Up marches all across the country in an effort to redefine his image — and make him once again employable as an NBA analyst somewhere. After that, Hardaway and Amaechi will most likely have a sitdown on Oprah, where they'll be forced to embrace, completely exorcising Hardaway's fear of being groped in the shower by one of his teammates. Unfortunately, the best way to rewire people these days is to put them on Oprah. If only Morton Downey Jr. was still alive.
Danny Gans To Sing National Anthem With Sir Elton John: 2/1
In case there are any protesters marching outside the arena, the best way to ensure that the NBA is a tolerant league is to use a recognizable gay entertainer to quash those suggestions. Even though Danny Gans is supposedly well known for his spooky impersonations of famous singers and originally planned to warble the National Anthem using many of his various voices — Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, um, Ricky Martin — it just won't be enough. If there was ever a perfect place for Elton to magically pop-up in a purple, sequined suit and pink coke bottle glasses playing a rainbow colored piano, this is the time. "I can't lie..".
Reshuffling of the NBA Celebrity All-Star Roster: 3/1
Yes, there's a way to do this subtly, without raising too many eyebrows. Just replace Little Bow Wow with Neil Patrick Harris, David Arquette with T.R. Knight and Carrot Top with that dude from N'Sync ... oh, and make sure that there's a WNBA player on the court at all times. Thankfully, Taye Diggs is already penciled in as a member of the East team. There's a start.
Nobody Talks to Jim Gray: 4/1
Stern will most likely alert all participants — even those loosely affiliated with the NBA — to not answer any questions from the long-faced man with the thinning hair and the evil glint in his eye. Gray's penchant for exploiting the negative and making people squirm has probably made him the least welcome person in Las Vegas this weekend. Stern has drawn up "exit route" maps so former players and NBA executives can easily navigate the unfamiliar confines of the Thomas & Mack Center in case they get cornered. In addition, Gray will have to set-up all interviews this weekend via the NBA's special guest PR handler — Chad Curtis.