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Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 2:22 pm  |  41 responses

Cleaning Out My Closet?

Why they’re really smiling…

By Myles Brown

I’m still getting used to being in NBA locker rooms. There are no rules of decorum posted on the door and there’s no tour guide to hold your hand. Someone blesses you with a press pass and after that you’re on your own. So I’ve learned by watching those I respect-and those I don’t-for some tricks of the trade.

Many are simply matters of common courtesy, or common sense. Let a man put his pants on before badgering him. Let him eat too. Wait your turn. Check your breath. You know, basic sh*t, golden rules and whatnot. But there are two traits exhibited by a more cultivated ilk that I’ve found to be integral in achieving any degree of success as a journalist. Knowing when to speak up-along with when to shut up-and how to listen to what’s being said, in addition to hearing what’s not being said. You know, reading between the lines and whatnot.

Recently, my possession of said characteristics was tested by none other than Allen Iverson. He was also kind enough to host an impromptu episode of What Not To Wear.

It’s common for the lig’s superstars not to do media before games, so I didn’t expect to see him at all. But there he was donning his powder blue armor, along with all of the iconic A.I. accessories, from the headband to the finger braces. It was an opportune moment to approach him, Kenyon Martin and another media member were the only other folks in the room, but I had someone else on my agenda so I left him alone. Besides, I had nothing substantive to discuss and I wasn’t going to reveal that by wasting his time. I killed a few minutes chatting with my fellow scribe before he decided to move on to the Wolves locker room, leaving me alone with two NBA All Stars. I remained staunch in my quietude.

It was then that A.I. broke the silence. “You lookin’ for Melo man?” I was. He was coming off of a spectacular summer showcase and had established himself as the leader of a team with heightened expectations. The blemishes on his public persona had faded and Melo seemed primed to shine with the first All-Star start of his career. But f*ck all that, this is SLAMonline. Why talk about basketball when there’s so much good sh*t on TV? I really just wanted to discuss the fifth and final season of The Wire with the Baltimore native. “Yeah.” I replied. Without a word, A.I. smiled and headed back into the trainers room, presumably to find his teammate. Upon his departure, I mistakenly thought of how helpful he was rather than what kind of smile he’d just flashed me.

It wasn’t the cherubic wattage that beamed on the latest issue as much as it was a grin of childlike mischief. And as I sat there waiting for him to reemerge I learned the difference. I discussed the upcoming free agent crop with Eduardo Najera. I watched him and Linas Kleiza eat a mountain of french fries and chicken fingers. I thought about stealing some fruit from the spread in the adjacent room. I watched the previous Wolves game on the big screen the team used for scouting. I watched an assistant coach tutor Nene on defensive post positioning on his MacBook. I played with my phone. I marveled at the strength trainer’s dreads and tan. I wondered what it all really means and if I knew what it meant to find my dreams. I sat there some more. I waited some more. The team’s PR guy said Melo was getting work done on his shoulder.

F*ck that. I got the hint. I left. I was hungry.

After the Nuggets triumph over the Wolves I decided to try again. It became immediately clear to me that I was a topic of discussion when his teammates practically ushered me to his locker with an exclamation of “Melo’s over there!” Gee, um, thanks guys. Making my way over to the corner, I crossed paths with A.I., clad in only a towel as he exited the showers. I made no mention of his disappearing act and he said nothing other than “Liz Claiborne…”. I had no idea what that meant or if he was even talking to me, the sing-songy voice with which he uttered it left me with the impression that he was merely amusing himself. Maybe it was one of those catchy rap tunes the kids are always talking about. Whatever.

I stumbled my way through a haphazard introduction to Melo as I tried to pass on a message to him from a mutual friend about a book project. I repeated the name Wes Moore over the background clamor as a nearby K-Mart repeated it for comedic effect. “Who? West Baltimore?” Great, apparently I had an audience. And I wasn’t the only one. “Yo! Look at that sh-t!” someone directed. Melo was being iced down by a trainer on his knees in front of the forward and his teammates let it be known that from their perspective it looked as though he was getting more than one kind of treatment. The trainer hastily finished his ‘job’ and scurried off.

A.I.’s locker was right next to Melo’s and he received equal ribbing while dressing. I was amazed at just how small Iverson was, I had to have at least a couple of inches and about fifteen pounds on the ultimate warrior. His slight frame was enhanced by the XXXXXL wife beater he threw on over his narrow shoulders. His teammates let him know about that too with another round of laughter. “Man my wife bought me this sh-t…” He caught me cracking a smile when he sat down in front of his locker and said nothing but “Liz Claiborne…”. Um, yeah.

Melo told me he wanted to take a shower first and I had no problem waiting. I looked around the room as he undressed and when I turned around I saw him squeezing a big Dove bottle onto a hand towel. Without thinking, I asked “What the hell are you gonna do with that?” He looked at me quizzically before responding, “I’m gonna wash my a$$, that’s what.” I looked at the bottle again. Whoops. “Oh, I thought it was lotion. My fault. I was about to say…” This prompted another round from the peanut gallery, namely Mr.Iverson, and his offering wasn’t original at all. “Oh, he thought it was lotion, he was about to say…” Melo laughed it off and headed to shower, but A.I. seemed more concerned with mocking me than anything. I could see how my mistake could have offended Melo, but I was clueless as to how I’d drawn the attention of his fellow All Star…..

“Liz Claibo…”

“Alright G*ddamnit, I know exactly what the f*ck you’re talking about! It’s my shirt, ‘aint it? You don’t like it? Then say so! And no, it’s not pink, it’s more lavender motherf*cker and despite all of your inferences to the contrary, it does not make me gay! Stop acting like I tried to touch you in your bathing suit area or some sh*t! Christ! And if we’re gonna start questioning people’s fashion decisions, why don’t you tell me why you’re covered in navy blue corduroy head to toe?! Nice hat. Who the f*ck are you supposed to be, Paddington Bear? Are you a big David Sedaris fan? Huh?!”

At least that’s what I thought. I said nothing. I knew better. Any response I could’ve made would only have depicted me as paranoid or unable to take a joke. And the banded bundles of cash literally spilling out of his pockets reinforced the truth that he wouldn’t give a f*ck what I thought about him if I said anything anyway. I talked to Melo for a few minutes and headed out, pride intact. I still love that shirt.

To this day, I’m not sure if I was just included in some playful banter or if I was genuinely disliked. I told myself it didn’t matter either way. I’d still have a tremendous amount of respect for Allen Iverson as a basketball player and wouldn’t judge him as a man, regardless of his intentions. But I still didn’t like his shirt.

So for the record, no, I’m not gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    great story! I was wondering how it would end… you did the right thing.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Too bad the Nuggets have already played here, or I’d be going shirt shopping.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Not for $200, though. Are you out of your mind?

  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    Funny.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    I got mine for cheap. I’d never pay that much for a shirt that didn’t have Scarlett Johannson in it.

  • http://www.neworleansnation.blogspot.com Toney Blare

    wow, i’m heading to the nuggets locker room tonight in NO. going straight (indeed) from work, so a black suit and a white shirt. hope that’s blank enough. you did the right thing, alright. will advise.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Nice hat. Who the f*ck are you supposed to be, Paddington Bear? Are you a big David Sedaris fan? Huh?!” I am crying from that sh*t. Great story, Myles. Could you someday hold a contest to put that shirt up as a prize? That thing sounds like a firestarter.

  • http://why-bother-reading.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    I’m still f*cking jealous that you had the opportunity.A midget joke didn’t feel right?

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Id never part with that shirt. And I just had it on over a t shirt and jeans with some Tiffany Dunks on, running errands before I went to the game. Perhaps that was too many pastels for one day. Or one locker room.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Probably for one locker room, Myles.

  • Ron

    Purple Label sh*t wit the logo secret.

  • Jared

    Good story Myles, keep doin what you do

  • Ron

    I wonder if AI cracked on Billy King when he would wear similar shirts back in the day? Knowing Allen he probably talked trash in Billy’s face and made sure everybody heard it too.

  • http://the-second-coming.blogspot.com The Second Coming

    classic myles. no doubt AI is readin this right now. And he’s been in some questionable getups. Good story, check plus.

  • riggs

    did u wear secret deodorant too? sorry couldnt help myself :)

  • Captain America

    I come away with a new level of respect for media types. premodonnas

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Your question to Melo was interesting. And anti-gay jokes are rampant in every locker room. As are blatant homo-erotic activities. It’s a weird mix. Anyway, the shirt looks nice, and I too only rock Ralph Lauren once it’s listed on the sale page.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    I wonder when Captain America will come away with a new level of respect for KG.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The Nuggets locker room is like the cool kids lunch table in high school, right down to the level of sophistication. Whoops, did I say that?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    You should have broken out the burner like Christian Slater in ‘Heathers’.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    This is why we’re glad Myles is down with us for real. Great stuff.

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Agreed with Russ. Im looking for a rainbow sweater and a press pass from The Advocate for when they come back next year. And thanks Ben.

  • http://myspace.com/bodiebarnett jbn74sb

    Myles – Talk to Ryan. He’ll hook you up.

  • http://www.entershikari.com/ hursty

    myles that story was funny as sh*t, get it? no? thats cos its gay… ‘laughs tyranically at his own brilliance’, nah that was heaps good, id be nervous as hell to go into an nba locker room.

  • http://yahoo.com DP

    “On that independent sh*t, trade it all fo a hubsband and some kids”/You ever wonder what it all really means, You wonder if you ever find yo dreams!” I really like that reference to Kanye, Myles. That sh*t was gutta man. amazing article. glad you’re not a honey bun. play wit it.

  • Bubba Chuck

    in other news webbers back w/tha warriors…
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=3219421

  • lordg

    Great job, reminds me of when I got a press pass in high school.

  • Dacre

    Liz Clairborne…!?!?

    That aint no payout.
    Old Navy would have worked better…

  • Dacre

    Would Linas and steady Eddie have passed on some fried chicken your way!?!?

    That was the story of the ROOM and ya missed it.
    You probably couldn’t have just reached in – Lina’ would have just eaten your fingers clean off?!

  • http://wherespmac.blogspot.com Justin Adler

    Great story. F*ckin’ basketball players and their fancy clothes and fancy lotions.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jake Appleman

    Great column, Liz. I wrote a really long comment before and I’m not sure what happened. So you get this.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Outstanding, and well played. Trying to verbally spar with a relatively intelligent NBA player in an NBA lockerroom is a war no sportswriter is ever going to win. You’re not on your turf, you’re outnumbered, and logic doesn’t really apply. You chose wisely, Myles.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also: Where can I download “Let Me Borrow That Top”? That joint is banging.

  • http://slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Myles, just as funny hearing it the second time around. Paddington bear killed me. ha!

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Thanks guys. And girl. I would bow, but then someone else would probably think I was trying to bl*w you.

  • Lou

    Myles, that shirt sure looks pink to me, and yeah it’s kinda gay.

    Also you do know who Liz Claiborne is right?

  • Lou

    And Myles how the fu*k did u find that youtube clip?? (Not the Seinfeld one)

    How would u know that exists??

  • http://slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    ahaah ahahahahahha Myles, you are awesome.

  • http://www.ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com Allenp

    Relatively intelligent?

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