Monday, May 19th, 2008 at 3:16 pm  |  64 responses

The Commish’s Basketball Man Crush

I don’t, however, “miss his musk”

How many times have you heard a black man reveal that he has a Man Crush? I’m guessing anywhere between thrice and never. Get into a random conversation with a white cat and you’ll learn that he has a Man Crush on Brad Pitt, Brett Favre, Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, GI Joe and a number of other male subjects. But, black men? Fuggetit. Not only are black men, in all honesty, probably the leading ethnic gender for homophobia (we can barely muster the comfort to embrace a close male friend), but we largely avoid cultural fads that we don’t initiate ourselves (we try not to type ‘LOL’ or ‘:)’ in emails) and possess a self-consciousness that typically precludes public acts that could invite ridicule. So that means you won’t see many of us (ages 25-45) wearing ironic T-shirts, we won’t show up at Halloween parties dressed as Tina Turner, we usually don’t dance if we’re not good at it and we definitely won’t whimsically admit to having a heterosexual crush on another man. But I will. I have a Basketball Man Crush (BMC) on Chris Paul.

We all love UrbanDictionary.com, right? It’s neo-Americana at its best, a site created and manned by white dudes, meant to define all things ‘urban’. It’s a great laugh, a place to learn that “100″ means “Goodbye to the fullest. Getting frisky with the meaning of goodbye.” Now although I don’t need a suburban dweeb to help me define and decode urban slang; I do tend to consult UrbanDictionary for pop-culture definitions. In the clutch, I went there to see just what I was getting myself into with this public Man Crush admission. This definition summed it well: Respect, admiration and idolization of another man. Non-sexual. Celebrities, athletes and rock stars are often the object of the man crush.

If we replace “respect” with “reverence” and “idolization” with “wonderment”, then you have, basically, articulated the way I feel about the other-worldly talent of Chris Paul. He, my friends, is a martian, on some new-age Year 3000 ish with the rock. Tonight, he and the Hornets are preparing to deebo Western Conference Vanguard rights from the Spurs. He will undoubtedly give us another performance — in a long string of performances — that showcases his new and exalted brand of basketball that has often turned me (momentarily) into something that resembles a schoolgirl at a Danity Kane concert. But even if he drops a dud, my crush will rage on. In my basketball viewing eyes, Chris rarely does anything wrong and he usually does something historically incredible. I fully and readily admit that my lips are red with Chris Paul Kool-Aid.

For me, BMCs are a rarity. You all know me to have a hater-streak, so I’m usually not forthcoming with props. Excluding my childhood idolization of Magic Johnson, I can count my BMCs on three fingers. One for Gary Payton, one for Allen Iverson and the other for Lil’ Chris Paul. GP was a mean-mugging, sly-grilled, craft-perfecting bully. As a teen and young adult, I got a bit obsessed. I even thought the way he backed his defender down the court was an art. AI was an iconic, game-changing evolution — Gen X to the core, with a mean crossover that was the hallmark of a game that was more like something abstract, like a purpose or something. In one of my pre-journalist All-Star weekends, I once followed his entourage onto a bus in a Bacardi Select and Heineken-haze. I outgrew AI and GP, though. That stuff was for kids. But then came Chris with his sneer, moxie and robo-game, the game that leads you to believe he’s digital-balling in a league full of analogue-patsies. The crush began when I saw him darting through the ACC at Wake Forest and didn’t even begin to subside when he punched Julius Hodge in the nads on Hodge’s senior-night. In fact, that made me dig the little dude a bit more, it was like he was a black Joe Pesci, in a jersey, with superhuman court-vision and Jetsons-era everything else. Then came the NBA and his quiet ascent to the top of the game. He mugged point guard supremacy from his competition and now stands heads-n-shoulders with LeBron and Kobe for the Best Player Alive title.

And you know what? Black man or not, I’m not ashamed of this Basketball Crush. If you ask me, Young Chris is the only dude worthy of Crush status from any man older than 25. At least that’s how I see it.

Kobe? Nah. I grew up with Kobe. In fact, even though he played for my squad, I only begrudgingly began giving him his props after his feats and heroics grew to large, frequent and profound to diminish. But how could I ever revere a dude that mimicked MJ so hard? I’m a hip-hopper and we don’t do biters. Sure, he’s grown out of that stage, but still.

KG, Pierce and Ray? Sorry, they play for the Celtics. Boozer? He played for Duke.

Duncan is too boring to excite. Y’all know how I feel about Tony Parker and his imposter-status (which is how you should feel, too). If I was Argentinian, then I’d fall — in an ungay way – for Ginobli, but like my man JA Adande quipped in a recent chat, “Who wants to be like a flopper with a growing bald spot?”

T-Mac doesn’t win enough. In 2006 I was slowly going Michael Scott for DWade’s Ryan Howard, that was until this season’s 15-67 debacle and his rumored trysts with Star Jones.

LeBron is too corporate and corny. His beastly antics on the court are beyond amazing, but they’re always preceded with his pre-tip charade-exercise with the mohawked Damon Jones. I’m not a teen, I don’t dig that. LeBron is cool, but he ain’t cool. Put it like this, LeBron reminds me of Yung Joc.

Sheed is cool and he’s subtly great. But he’s also rarely great. Even though I find myself applauding practically everything he does — including his tantrums — there’s not enough amazement there.

Chris passes every test. His game is not merely great, it’s unique and revolutionary. He’s a surly assassin on the court, but seems like a level-headed, easy going dude erstwhile. He plays for an underdog. For the past three years he’s been somewhat of a best-kept secret. And he’s all about his biz. You won’t catch him acting like high-schooler, doing the Superman during timeouts or cheesin’ like he’s part of the Mickey Mouse Club. His game is grown and he acts grown. As a ball-player, he’s a man’s man without all the corniness and primadonna antics of his peers that play on his rarefied level. He leaves me smitten after every game. For an arrogant, self-centered SOB like yours truly, that’s saying a lot.

Men are a hyper-competitive, ego-driven species. As catty, petty and jealous as women tend to be, it’s nothing for them to comment to another woman, “Ooh, I love your hair like that” or obsess over and voice profound love for Mary J Blige. When a grown man assesses anything that has to do with another man, he tends to use drab, halfway pejorative adjectives, such as ‘aight’, ‘cool’, ‘OK’ or, perhaps he’ll gesture with a shoulder-shrug. Yes, women may naturally be more effusive, but there’s something that belies intent, something more sinister about a man’s reticence to extol virtue. If a dude tosses too many accolades another man’s way, some other man is bound to offer advice like “Stop sweatin’ him” or “Get off his jock.” Other times, they hit you with incredulous questions — “You his girlfriend, now?” or “What, do you wanna sleep with him?”

I don’t care, though. I’m standing by my Basketball Man Crush. Lil Chris deserves it (although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want it). It’s very likely that I’ll be covering the young dude in the Western Conference Finals. And I’m sure I’ll treat him like any other athlete. He’ll be the subject of my work. After this many years in sports journalism, I don’t get star-struck. And, as I stated before, this isn’t idolization or — as many define Man Crushes — some fantasy-driven emotion marked by a desire to be him. I don’t envy athletes. So you won’t get a Champ Kind moment out of me. You won’t catch me walking up to Chris during shootaround suggesting, “When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together.”

But now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, I think it’s as good a time as any to heed Brian Fantana’s advice: “Take it easy, Champ. Why don’t you stop talking for a while.”

He’s right. So, until next week…

Vincent Thomas is a SLAMOnline columnist and a SLAM Magazine contributor. He can be reached at vincethomas79@gmail.com.

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

    Careful Vince. He might punch you in the balls.

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

    If you missed his musk, you’d probably be missing Jordan. Just saying.

  • JoeGym

    Then elbow you and flop when you retaliate

  • B. Long

    Funny Stuff. Great work.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    Vince just so you know. i use LOL like a mf, i am a dancing machine (word to the jacksons) and i got love for humanity so i don’t care what kind of sexual a person is (hetero,home, ambiguously). That being said the Definition (i’m gonna keep using this name until he catches on) is right now my fav player in the league.

  • Silky Slim

    CP3, woooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    It is the “in” thing to love (okay I’ll use it)The Definition these days,and for contrarianism’s sake I’m gonna say that Deron Williams is just as good a point guard as Paul.

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Nice job Vince. I have had similar hetero manlove crushes in the past, like say for example on Jose Reyes… they can disappoint you if you get too “attached.”

  • Dane

    Boozer is a bum…….he proved it in the playoffs. He shouldn’t even be named in your article. Now D-will……it’s ok to have a BMC on him.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    White people are just terrible.

  • lane

    CP is a flopping punk. Tonight will be a long night for CP.

  • WhaHuh

    Why? The NBA and its media needs to sort out this “Saviour of the NBA” bulls#!t because it alienates other fans/teams and sets people up to fail. I look forward to Parkers 20 and 10 just to annoy the commish.

  • WhaHuh

    According to TrueHoop “Hornets gave up 6 more points per 100 possessions when he was on the court than when he was off, and this on-off differential on defense was by far the worst of any player on the team” I dont really know what that means but it shows his defensive skills are overrated

  • Captain America

    sick f*ckr

  • http://Spaceshipjaymyspace.com Spaceship Jay

    Word to Kobe aka Bizzaro Michael comment. Yeah, we absolutley HATE biters. Also, Yung Joc!?! Hilarious, yet slightly heartbreaking for its truth factor.

  • Eliezer

    Uhm, i couldn’t read the post entirely because that stupid jordan brand ad on the left keeps blocking it. So far, nice read.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    Real men love Jebus.

  • ciolkstar

    I think your man crush has blinded you. If Lebron is young joc who is CP3. maybe TooShort, but tha’s still giving young Chris too much in my opinion. The Bugs will get squashed tonight. And everyone will have to wait 6 months untill they can get back to sweating CP3. Manu, Tim, (and your fav,) TP are show these youngins whats up. And on their floor nonetheless.

  • ciolkstar

    I like The Commish but the more I read you, the more I see your wrong about a lot. TP is gonna “roll play” his way straight past your boy all night.

  • Pneumatic

    “I’m a hip-hopper and we don’t do biters.” Are you sure you are not a teenager? That’s what my 13 year old brother would say… This guy shouldn’t write here. Damn, you are making the whole site smell. Bad

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    LeBron may do the high school routine sometimes but who f*cking doesn’t Vince. I can’t see LeBron in a Yung Joc mold because Joc is lame as hell and he is one-dimensional. Joc is like a little bit “cooler” than Mike Jones but that isn’t saying very much. Bron is stacking that paper majorly right now so I can’t hate on the man. But I do agree that his ads can get corny at times. Has anyone seen that vitamin water commercial? What is the point of that mothaf*cker anyway. But I do have a man crush on 5 people actually.

    1.Kobe Bryant
    2.Chris Paul
    3.Deron Williams
    4.Kanye West
    5.Lupe Fiasco

    I know that is a hell of a lot but these are the cats I study the most.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    Yeah I didn’t like that comment about you saying that Kobe is a biter vince? Who the f*ck doesn’t bite off someone? everyone “bites” off someone in their life. I know CP3 does because I was watching the game last week and he said in an interview that all he does is watch film on other point guards. Why? I guess so he can “bite” their moves into his on once gametime starts. So Kobe may be a “biter” but that mothaf*cker cannot be stopped so he must bite off enough that he could chew.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP

    ugh I typed too fast on that last note so pardon my hellafied grammar. long day.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Vince: I just realized that you were Black. I thought you were White for a long time. Which makes you the Anti-Lang. I guess it’s hard to convey both tone AND race over the internets. Just to clarify, I am not an elderly Filipina tranny.

  • http://www.heavyasheaven.blogspot.com DP


  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Also, I would say that I have a Man-Crush on Ryan Jones, but that wouldn’t be accurate because it’s a very sexual crush. On Eboy too. And John Goodman.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    And Kendrick Perkins.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Vince: Your description of Sheed is very, very on point.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    I don’t understand what the big deal is about American men and Man-crushes or whatever. Of course that’s a generalization, but over here there is NO reluctance to proclaim Man-crushes. It seems like you’d only have a problem with it if you were insecure in some way. I have a HUGE Man Crush on Malcolm X.

  • youngmuggsy

    whats up with tony? the way he drives to the hoop is not only a thing of beauty but also a sign of toughness.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    BTW, there are probably one or two SLAM guys who I’d read, regardless of the subject matter. Like I don’t follow college ball, but I read the Derrick Rose article because Jake Appleman wrote it. Vincent is the same way.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Keep going Tariq

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq


  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    Your comments entertain me no end,to the point of a man crush.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    That’s because I pack a surprising amount of mental nourishment in a bite-size, candy-coated shell.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    It’s edu-tainment.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Actually info-tainment.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Hey izzo, where does that “miss his musk” line that Vincent used come from?

  • http://nba.com bbfan

    Doesn’t everyone wanna be like Mike?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ H to the izzo

    I have no idea

  • Winslowalrob

    Wait, Vincent is a black man? When did this happen?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I have a man-crush on Tariq.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Good sh*t Vince. Paul has came in like a tornado and quickly became my favorite player in the L in a short period of time.

  • Pneumatic

    Look like the “imposter” Tony Parker threw out the window the NO hopes… Horrible second half by Duncan and West. Pargo stuffing the stat sheet at the end: “I want a contract!!!!”

  • D.A.

    Anchorman, For the those who wonder where the miss his musk came from…kinda. Slight variation

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Man crush….yeah the good old days. Thats like me with Steve Nash….and Ben Folds.

  • Krishan

    Nice Anchorman reference, Vince.

  • Gumdrop

    Sorry this comment comes so late, but ‘the Definition’ is a dope name Khalid. Anything to end the madness of ‘CP3′.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Oh! Anchorman! Of course!

  • Krishan

    The Octagon. LOL. Brian Fantana rules

  • marcgar

    you have a man crush on a dirty flopper.

  • solly what

    as a loyal Spurs fan…. please continue to hate on them. they seem to like it. :)

  • MSkittle

    It’s all good. I have a “basketball man crush” on Dwight Howard.

  • illydiva

    I too have a crush on The Definition. It has very little to do with basketball.

  • Kadavour

    it doesn’t bother any other black man on these boards that Vince has become the “black” voice of the Slam community? Blackness is deeper than skin color ppl, it’s culture. I hope i’m just taking this all too seriously and Vince turns out to be an amazing satirist and not a f*ck!n’ fraud who preys on ignorant stereotypes in his writing.

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

    Kadavour, what exactly bothers you? Vince uses stereotypes because everybody uses stereotypes to some degree, but I find a lot of his comments to be on point. I agree with him that black loathe showing too much affection or showering each other with praise. I understand that there are many, MANY different black experiences, but I would wager that the one Vince is describing is the one that the majority of black people get. It doesn’t represent all of us, but it does repesent a big slice of us. So, why don’t you explain what you dont’ like about the persona Vince has crafted and we’ll discuss that.

  • Z

    Black voice, I dunno. African-American voice maybe. I find that most of the stuff African-Americans relate to don’t really connect with my reality as an African immigrant.

  • http://tasa201.wordpress.com/ Tariq

    Z, I think by Black most of the guys mean African-American. Just like they don’t mean Scandinavian or Eastern European when they say White.

  • Kadavour

    I find a lot of his comments point to stereotypes that do little to define the Black psyche, mannerisms, or culture. I’m not trying to go to any extremes here about just how out of touch with the Black identity his writing may be, because i do relate to some of his stuff, but i just get the general impression that he’s a Black observer of “Blackness”. not quite sure how i can explain this with verbiage anymore succinct than, “Real Recognize Real and This Dude Lookin Unfamiliar.” That whole thing about Black people loathing to “shower each other with praise” is utter BS. I think that is a result of machismo and classical definitions of manhood vs. the changing (evolving?) definitions of manhood prevalent today (metrosexuality can named amongst these). Props are given where due, only haters resort to “halfway pejorative adjectives” pmb (pardon my blackness) but, if a [dude] nice, he nice. If you want to have a discussion about manhood’s (what it was, and what it is becoming) relationship with the Black man and his identity in America, then we can do that. Once again, im not sure if this forum is equipped for a really significant discussion about these issues because not enough ppl chime in. i’m always down to give it a shot though.

  • http://tostateofmind.blogspot.com HoopDreamz

    Haven’t been on here for a while, but this Commish cat is the truth. Doin’ big things for a rook…. oh yeah, I’m not envious of CP, but I’d like to hit up his barber, cuz he stay fresh. no homo (if that’s not automatically implied on a post about man-crushes)

  • http://Lebronisoverrated.com Free Vick

    Slam writers on the Spur’s opponents nu+ sack? Sweet, how new! You hate biters? What about the way Paul bit Manu’s flopping ability.

  • http://firemitchkupchak.com Jackie Moon

    Your man got crushed.

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