Rex Chapman’s third and inexplicably most popular phase of public life began on January 10, when he saw a surfer receive a perfect dropkick from a flying dolphin.
“I saw this video of a school of dolphins swimming into the shore. There was this surfer going in the other direction. This dolphin came up and hit him square in the chest,” says Chapman. “Right away, I said to myself: ‘That’s a fuckin’ charge.’”
Phase one of public life for Chapman came from his time as a swaggy, retrospectively underrated combo guard for the Suns, Bullets and Hornets in the early ‘90s. He was in a dunk contest. He once held the record for threes in a playoff game. He was from the future.
Then phase two came in retirement, when he was caught stealing from an Apple Store while on prescription painkillers.
Phase three is here and Rex is just as shocked as everybody else. Three words, and a handful of videos of people getting mowed down by rogue animals and household objects, have helped Rex Chapman become a beacon of all that is good on the internet.
Those three words: Block or charge?
“Some guy said the other day, Are you sure you want to be known as the ‘block or charge’ guy?” says Chapman. “I told him it’s better than ‘felon or drug addict’ guy.”
Chapman posted “Block or charge?” as a caption above the dolphin dropkick video. It received 1,200 retweets and 5,000 likes. So he kept at it.
Next was a video of a woman on a Vespa clumsily cruising into a Hyundai in traffic. (Clear block, the car was still moving.) Four days later, it was a 2-year-old getting lit up by a comically giant beach ball. (Definite charge. He kept his position and the ball was out of control.)
“It just sort of snowballed from there,” Chapman says.
By April, it was hard to find one of these that wasn’t going viral. There’s the one with the camel tossing a man by his head around a tree (block on the camel, but clear technical on the guy trying to wrangle him around a palm tree) with almost 2,000 retweets. Or the escaped cow being chased by police that tackled a random pedestrian on the sidewalk who did not expect to see a cow there (block; cow was in the restricted area).
On Twitter, where the world is always on fire, Rex Chapman’s timeline has become an oasis. The world is, in fact, a nightmare filled with escaped cows and too-large beach balls concussing small children.
But at least we can award the concussed kids possession, and maybe two free throws.
“I really wanted off social media. The place became so toxic. I just wanted off. But I have people who employ me who told me I needed social media,” says Chapman. “Thankfully, now I have this. What’s cool is that it’s sort of a break for everyone now.”
Former NBA players and celebrities reply to Rex with block or charge calls all the time now. Chris Hayes, Michael Rapaport, Nick Swardson, even the immortal Scot Pollard. Sitting with his daughter the night before this interview, he heard Neil Everett ask the question on SportsCenter.
With the NFL being the NFL, and the NBA gaining viewers in weird nooks all over the world as people get better access to streaming video, it’s a glaring example of why the NBA might become the country’s biggest sport in our lifetime.
“You’ve gotta know basketball a little bit. ‘Were they set? Where were their feet?’” says Chapman. “My favorites are the ones where people are willfully ignorant or drunk and get hurt but not die.”
The world is chaos. “Block or charge” provides an answer. Specifically, two answers, and if a drunk guy is involved, it’s almost always a charge.
“I find myself doing it now in public, outside,” said Chapman. “Now everything’s a block or a charge.”
Ben Collins is a writer and reporter for NBC News. He’s also a SLAM columnist and writes The Outlet, a monthly column in which BC muses on…well, whatever he wants. Follow him on Twitter @oneunderscore_.
Photo via Getty.