Slamadamonth, SLAM #124: JJ Hickson

by January 06, 2014

jj hickson

Originally published in SLAM 124

When JJ Hickson was a little kid growing up in the ATL he had a dream, and it had nothing to do with ball. Hickson wanted to be a comedian.

And when it came to comedy, he was a student of the game. He knew all the greats, forward and backward: Moore, Foxx, Cosby, Pryor, Murphy, Rock, the other Foxx, Mac and, uh, Entertainer. Little JJ won every game of Name That Wayans, knew what parts of Denis Leary’s act were stolen from Bill Hicks, knew the hot Groundlings and Second City prospects. His first word was “knock.” So was his second.

As soon as he was old enough to walk, Hickson started showing up at the Punchline. And given his well-known obsession, expectations were sky high. Yet every time he got up on stage he told the same bizarre joke—or at least everyone assumed it was supposed to be a joke—and no one laughed.

Well, that more or less ended that career path. Hickson went from the stage to the courts, sprouted to 6-9, became a McDonald’s All-American and played a single season at North Carolina State before being drafted 19th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. And now that he’s made it, I suppose there’s no harm in repeating the joke that confounded so many:

“What’s an Okafor?”

“For dunking on, silly.”

Russ Bengtson