by Jake Appleman

Classic early Simpson’s episode. Bart Simpson, icon of a generation, rarely messed up like this. After throwing his tape-recorder down a well, he pretended to speak to the town of Springfield as Timmy O’Toole, an innocent young scout who just as innocently fell down a well. As a deviant ten-year-old kid, especially a kid who averaged mischief’s equivalent of a triple-double, one could see how Bart might’ve never seen the error of his ways. However, when he realized the tape-recorder had his name on it — a public indictment of the prank’s poor form — he made for the well to try and cover it up. Because, be it prank or life, Bart realized that he’s better than that.

Earlier in the episode, he had brilliantly gained property of everything his father took pride in (most notably his ass crack and his beer) with only his wit and a label maker. Creating the Timmy O’ Toole alter-ego was arguably Bart Simpson’s most embarrassing childhood experience, as indicated the personal trauma he suffered after falling down the well himself.

What does this have to do with the NBA? Timmy O’Toole is metaphor for Tim Thomas; quite literally, Timmy is the NBA’s biggest waste of talent, and therefore the L’s preeminent tool. He’s taken his career and thrown it down a well.

The NBA’s greatest waste of space spent a year at Villanova before being dealt by the Nets on draft night for Keith Van Horn. It was one of two times that these two tall shortcomings would be exchanged. While Keith never really wanted to be bothered with greatness and the accompanying limelight, spending his prime proving that he lacked the mentality to be a superstar — anyone else remember Soft Serve’s East Coast tour of NJ, Philadelphia and NYC in consecutive seasons? — Timmy spent his prime building his own personal tool-shed, constructed from his ego’s delusional grandeur. The tool-shed? We’re not even talking vintage Tim Allen here; Timmy was slurpin’ the Bob Vila sizzurup.

It’s hard to really pinpoint when exactly Tim Thomas became such a T-square, ironic because his career has been wrong angle after wrong angle. Was it after he signed his ludicrous contract and proceeded to invest it in himself like MC Hammer invested in the pants for a Nassau space trip that never actually materialized? Was it after he threatened to choke Ray Allen? Was it after the Knicks dealt Van Horn for him, and then felt bad it about? Was it after he challenged Kenyon Martin — FUGAZI! — to emasculate him? Was it after the Bulls paid him NOT to play and then basically paid him to play for the Suns? Was it after he showed up courtside at the Meadowlands in a mink coat, professed his desire to play for the Nets, and then went all Vincent Pastore by signing with Phoenix?

The answer is that the money made construction’s most overrated product even more worthless. But there’s a catch. Now that Suns scooped the once-overpriced tool from the bargain bin, they’re going to get some use out of him because they have Steve Nash, who has already proven with Boris Diaw, and to a lesser extent, Quentin Richardson, that he can handle anything Home Depot throws his way. Thomas will shine in the playoffs and many will forget how much he sucks.

What’s really funny is that T-Square wants to be a badass. He really does. If he exerted just a fraction of the effort that he has conserved over the years, he could become the villain that does just enough to merit all-star consideration, in the process building up a cult-like fan-base with people who want him to that quantum leap to perennial superstar. A leap, mind you, that he has the talent for.

That’s no joke; homey-improvement says that Tim Thomas had the potential to be one of the world’s coveted tools. But it’s just not to be, because his attitude is flat, and his work ethic, flatulence.

It’s all just a shame. Because Tim Thomas is a disgrace to anyone who has ever played basketball for free, including his own inner-child.