I became aware of this when Aaronstampler texted me a link accompanied by a single word, "Epic." I found this video so passionate, so cogent, so packed with comprehensive intelligence, that I immediately reached out to J.A. Sherman of Welcome to Loud City, and we discussed it as Plato and Gorgias might have debated the state of non-being. We have captured it from our Google chat so that you too can be enriched.
Yes, that's irony you're detecting.
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J.A. Sherman: So, Mr. Wilco, what basketball-related topics are we discussing on this fine August evening?
J.R. Wilco: You may not be prepared for this.
Sherman: Dude, I am ALWAYS prepared for Thunder critique. Antennas are up, I'm locked in, come what may.
Sherman: Oh my. This guy is the Egyptian equivalent of Bill Simmons, his Arabic doppelganger. What are you seeing?
Wilco: The first thing I notice, in re-watching, is the nervous laughter coming from the woman as soon as the host says "OKC Thunder fan." It was completely under my radar on the first viewing, but the second time around it sticks out like a sore thumb. A sore thumb with an angry brown recluse spider sitting on it.
Sherman: It's as if she knows what's up, which means she's quite possibly heard this discussion before, at least on some level. We've all been there.
Wilco: First, you must be sure to get his name right. Perhaps that's what sets him off.
She pronounces his name, Tebenik. "Tabanik" he says, while looking off to the side like a Egyptian version of the Rain Man.
Sherman: It's Tabanik, sweetheart. Accent on middle syllable. I believe Arabic can be specific to these types of subtle changes, but our Thunder fan may be a top that's fully wound up. Let's see what happens when they pull the string! I don't even know if Tabanik is his first name or last name and they don't seem to think it's important to inform us, either.
My question is, who is this "Mohamed Morsi" that he's talking about?
Wilco: He might be famous, but I'd prefer to think of Big T (which is how I've come to already think of Tabanik) name dropping this guy, who's just some nobody who, I dunno, happens to have the biggest LCD in the neighborhood.
Sherman: He's like Larry down the street.
Wilco: In the palace, he says!
Sherman: This just got interesting. Is Tabanik talking about the former President of Egypt? He's either talking about Mohamed: the guy with the 60 inch LCD screen at the end of the street. Or he's Mohamed: the former president of the country who was just ousted in a political coup. Either/Or.
Wilco: And that's a big difference. Looks like Tabanik might have some serious pull. He gets invited to the palace. I'm so disappointed now. I think the issue's settled.
Sherman: Even if Morsi is just his buddy down the street, I'm still totally treating him like the former President of Egypt.
Wilco: He starts off by dropping the lovely the phrase "From the days of Kemp and The Glove." It's just so evocative.
And then he goes from calm to ranting in 1.8 seconds. Man, that's some serious acceleration. I'm impressed.
Sherman: When you're friends with the guy who just deposed of by a coup, I guess both OKC and al-Zawahiri can really set you off.
Wilco: Do you notice that he's also the middle-East's answer to Hubie Brown? Immediately upon entering Rant Mode, Tabanik says, "Didn't you account for the fatigue and injury risk?"
Sherman: Right. Seriously, Morsi didn't account for a coup, and Sam Presti didn't account for fatigue and injury. Same ballpark.
Wilco: I can just hear Hubie/Rainman saying, "You're the Thunder's front office, and you're staring down the barrel of a postseason where Westbrook is definitely, definitely going to suffer a season-ending injury in the first round..."
Sherman: Yes, in the 2nd person voice.
Sherman: He name checks "the Glove," as if that's just common knowledge about a guy who stopped being relevant in about 2004.
I'm beginning to think that Tabanik probably has his own copy of "SonicsGate" that he falls asleep to at night.
Wilco: That's it. And he talks in perfect 20/20 hindsight anger: as though everyone expected a guy like Russell Westbrook, who hadn't missed a game since high school, was going to get steamrolled while trying to call a time out.
Now I'm going a bit meta here, but once he turns his rage onto Kendrick Perkins and what he's paid, they drop the studio shot in a box and the rest of the screen goes to ... a high-traffic street at night? What's this about? I'm confused. Is a coronation or something really special going on and they're going to the regional NBA expert in the meanwhile?
Sherman: It's like they're trying to build a subtle image that watching Perkins with the ball is like watching a traffic jam.
Wilco: And as he's reaching his cruising ranting altitude, he drops this gem, calling Perkins, "The robber in sweat pants."
Sherman: Our first true money line of the night!
This is a great illustrative example of basketball without borders, because by now he's really just like every other NBA fan who doesn't quite get the 'nuance' of Kendrick Perkins.
Wilco: I wish I knew which words were specifically targeted by the close captioning, because I'd like to learn them phonetically and call Kendrick "the robber in sweatpants" in perfect Arabic every time I see him playing in a game.
Sherman: And where does Tabanik suggest Presti "Amnesty his a$$" to? Why, the Lakers, of course!
Send Perk to the Lakers for Nick Young and some Tahini.
Wilco: I wish I knew what a Tahini was.
Sherman: I think Tahini is what you use to make hummus. Stay with me, man.
Now our man is turning his rage to Dwight Howard, which is...actually, that's pretty fair.
Duncan's attitude toward Howard here roughly approximates Wilco's toward Tabanik.
Wilco: Yeah. I'm certainly not going to disagree with him there.
Sherman: Now he wants to send Howard -- or is it Perkins? I'm not sure who he's more mad at at this point -- to Mokataha.
Wilco: And I'm guessing that Mokataha is Egypt's equivalent of Siberia?
Sherman: Must be. it's not even showing up on the Google.
Wilco: And note that it's "All the way to Mokataha" so we're prepared to spare no expense in exiling him.
Sherman: He understands amnesty well. Spend that cash to get that guy way the heck away from the team.
Wilco: And I can't even tell who he's pointing his rage toward when he makes his first Hamas mention.
Sherman: Right. When the shift goes to a, "it's like Hamas," comparison, you know you're in the danger zone.
Wilco: Another break from the action because I have to recognize the excellent counterpoint that the female host is providing every time Tabanik takes a breath. It's so rhythmic. So perfectly staccato. I wonder if she has a background in music.
Sherman: For a measure of record, Tabanik started his rant at 10 seconds in and then unloaded for a solid 90 seconds before he starts violently choking.
Wilco: This guy's so on-fire right now that the local Hamas representative is thinking, "Hey, what do we have to do with the NBA? Leave us out of this because we have enough to deal with already."
Sherman: Hamas probably wants to distance themselves from someone who might be seen as a little too unstable.
Wilco: Yeah - yeah, poor terrorists. What's the world coming to when you can't achieve your goals of both running a nation, and being able to blow up the civilians of the neighboring country?
Sherman: Hamas official statement: "We supported the move from Seattle to OKC"
Wilco: Another moment to notice that this is the part where he goes full on Khrushchev, minus the shoe, because he's been raising his hands over his head and smacking the desk for a good 20 seconds now.
Sherman: And our Dr. Phil on the show, they don't even tell us what the woman's name is, she's trying to diffuse an international incident: "What's done is done. They had no choice, they can't pay the luxury tax."
Wilco: He starts referring to James Harden as a franchise player as though dealt him when it was known league wide what he was capable of.
Sherman: In other words, he's a James Harden ex-post expert. Just like everybody else in the U.S.
Wilco: Too true. It's possible that Tabanik is brought to the Palace specifically because of his local status as a Capologist.
Sherman: This is Egypt's answer to Larry Coon.
Wilco: Once he drops that "franchise player" line, he loses it and we have our break in the action where he goes apoplectic, cannot breathe, and the hosts have to step in for him to avoid radio silence.
Sherman: But I have to give him the point that he makes about local TV revenue. That's spot on!
At about 1:52, he's either composing himself like we'd see a guest do on Skip Bayless...OR
Sherman: OR, just like Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman," HE'S JUST GETTING WARMED UP!
Wilco: You would think that the female host's dulcet tones might have been just the tonic to soothe the savage beast-mode, but as soon as he comes back from his conniption fit, he is right back at full bore volume and you can see that he hasn't lost even the tiniest bit of momentum.
Sherman: Now that he's dealt with Presti, it's time to address, in reasonable terms, Clay Bennett's decision to move the team.
Wilco: And as he gets into his exposition about the television market he starts to remind me of those Hitler videos that everybody changes the subtitles to for their own comedic purposes. This is the point of the video where I think I'm starting to fall in love with him. In that sardonic, irony-laden postmodern way.
Sherman: We'll call it NBA-driven Stockholm Syndrome.
Wilco: He's suddenly beyond Harden. He's getting to some old wounds now. This has been brewing for a while and he's finally got just the audience to use as a platform for his case against the move.
Sherman: And Morsi was probably sick of hearing about it. "Go bug the rest of the country," he probably said.
Wilco: The next money line for me is, "Owner's caprice." I've got to say that he's quite the wordsmith. Or at least the translator that was on duty that night is the wordsmith. One of the two for sure.
Sherman: Word-smything, indeed
Wilco: Ye Olde Word-Smything!
Sherman: We've got "robber in sweat pants" and "owner's caprice." Those ought to find their way into the PtR Lexicon, if there's any justice in the world.
Wilco: The Lexicon was certainly made for moments such as this. And don't forget about "From the days of Kemp and the glove..."
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This commentary is continued on Welcome to Loud City, and the thrilling conclusion includes a serious plot twist.