Hoop Dreams
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Rules for the N.B.A. Half-Court Challenge

Congratulations on being selected to take our halftime Half-Court Challenge! Sink this baby, and you’re a millionaire!

Just stand right over there. No, back it up a little. Little more. That’s it. What’s that? Ha ha. Yes, you’re very observant, you are standing under the opposite goal. That’s new. Also, no more running starts. You must stand flat-footed and toss it with one hand—and not your dominant hand. You’re a southpaw so we’re just going to shackle your left arm to the back of your right thigh. Comfy?

Here’s the ball. Yes it’s a bit heavier than a standard basketball. That’s because we’re now using one of those medicine balls. I know what you’re thinking; the ball’s circumference appears significantly bigger than that of the rim’s. But that’s just an illusion—and anyway, that’s not even the basket you’ll be shooting at.

Look down there! Right on time! Everybody: a round of applause for the court crew for supplying the new telescoping basket. This baby is going to take the Half-Court Challenge to a whole new level of fun. Look at that, it bounces up and down and zigzags side to side—all at random intervals. And see that iron plate sliding over and off the top of the basket? It’s a lid. So be sure to time your shot to land when that lid is OFF the rim. It’s trickier than it sounds!

O.K., where’s the mascot? Here he is. Aim your T-shirt gun right at our contestant’s sternum. Make sure you get a clear shot at him as he tries to take the shot. Oh, come now, they’re just T-shirts; they’re not going to hurt. Everyone, I think our contestant here thinks we’re supposed to just hand him a check for a cool million. Let him know, he’s got to earn it!

All right, now bring in ShawNut. Don’t be alarmed, but we surgically fused Shawn Bradley and Manut Bol— vertically. They’ll stand directly in front of you, adding a fun defensive element—more than 15 feet worth!

O.K., let me just have that ball back for a second so we can dip it into this industrial-grade lubricant, which will reduce the friction index to—Well, I don’t know exactly, but good luck trying to hold onto this thing!

We dipped the ball—now it’s time to dip you. Hop into this vat of crocodile scent. Our friends from the local zoo have been kind enough to let Maude, the lovable—but deadly especially when she senses crocodiles—hippopotamus out to play in our Half-Court Challenge. We’re also unleashing—thanks to the zoo—a couple of venomous mammals, the duckbilled platypus and the Eurasian water shrew. Look at them; both are so scared of the large crowd! Uh oh, they seem to be looking at you!

O.K., we know you love a challenge. So good luck. Oh, and here you go, slip this blindfold on.

Listen up, everyone. We’ve got the best fans in the world. So let’s show our support by throwing the tomatoes and D batteries you received from the ushers right at our contestant here.

On second thought, you can have that running start.

Frank Ferri is a copywriter who thinks he's funny. Visit him at