The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who is in no way related to Kevin McHale and has taken the necessary legal steps to ensure that it stays that way. When he's not modeling Shaq's "Kazaam" underwear, he can be found studying the ancient art of the Jedi at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• Dark forces rising. The Lakers pulled off an unprecedented three-way trade on Friday, acquiring former All-Star Paul Gasol by sending a bucket of chum and an old PEZ dispenser to the Memphis Grizzlies and promising their immortal souls to Satan.
After the candles were extinguished and the goat's blood had dried, the Dark Lord expressed his fiendish delight with the fulfillment of this historic transaction. "Dr. Buss truly is a pleasure to work with. As are Misters Kupchak and Jackson. Of course, as you probably already know, Phil and I did some work together back in the 1990s. For instance...remember that Charles Smith no-call? That was me. Oh yes, that was me!"
Once the hissing and snickering had died down, the Bringer of Sorrow continued: "Sure, I'm happy about the souls - I was already getting Kobe's anyway - but what I'm really excited about are the perks. Unlimited smoothies at the Staples Center, a free subscription to Lakers Mag, a copy of the 2007-08 team picture signed by all the players, and I get to watch all Lakers home games from inside Jack Nicholson. Until I take Jackie home with me, of course. And if you've seen The Bucket List, you know that's going to happen soon. Very soon. MUWAHAHAHAHA!! Sorry, how terribly undignified of...BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Oh, that was bad form on my par...AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Okay. I'm done."
Kobe Bryant, who is thrilled out of his freaking gourd about the trade, was asked whether he was at all concerned about spending an eternity in the fiery pits of everlasting damnation. "Hell?" Bryant said. "Have you ever played with Kwame Brown before? You know nothing of hell."
• Uh, guys, you're supposed to be playing tonight. The Washington Wizards watched the Black Mamba strike for 19 points in the first quarter before realizing, "Oh shit...we're playing the Lakers tonight!" But by the time they finally stripped off their warmup jackets, the game was pretty much over. Kobe had 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting and every Laker except Coby Karl scored as the Blue and Gold coasted to an effortless 103-91 win. Antawn Jamison had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who also got 15 points and 7 assists from the newly-returned Caron Butler. Bonus stat: Your mother isn't as proud of you as she says.
• Wir können nicht gescoren. Let's take a look at the Mav's offensive output against Detroit. Lowest point total of the season? Check. A season-low shooting percentage? Check. Yet another brutal humiliation of the league's reigning MVP? Check. I hate to ruin the ending of this story, but Dallas didn't win. The Pistons capitalized on the Maverick's extreme sucktasticness and routed them 90-67. Rasheed Wallace led the Pistons with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and several exclamations of "He can't guard me!" Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki had 15 and 10, but was held to 3-for-18 shooting. Bonus stat: Juwan Howard - yes, he's still in the league - scored a three trillion.
• Cheaters never prosper. On his way out of Los Angeles, Beelzebub spoke about the allegations that the Patriots filmed the Rams' final walkthrough before the 2002 Super Bowl. "No, no, no," said the Serpent of Eden. "That was all me. I was just sick of Kurt Warner and all his God this, Jesus that, blah, blah, blah. Seriously, I can only take so much of that crap before I start screwing with people." When asked about the Patriots' colossal flop in this year's Super Bowl, the Prince of Lies simply chuckled and said, "Let's just say I had a few dollars on the Giants and leave it at that, okay?"