…Welcome to NBA All-Star Weekend 2017

By Andrew J. Pridgen

I’m the guilty party here. For whatever reason, I’ve given people the benefit of the doubt pretty much my whole life when it comes to knowing and accepting and proven facts…as facts: Crayons are made of paraffin wax and color pigments, ABBA getting back together may be an abomination but it is not an attack on Sweden and Keanu Reeves partnered with Gary Busey is a more explosive a combination than carbon and oxygen.

It was stupid, me talking all of this for granted. I know.

Assuming certain known laws of science and nature were part of the accepted conversation freed up most of my adult life to, you know, ponder the more pressing mysteries of the universe, such as: Does $10 endless apps from TGI Friday’s really mean you can sit there for however long you fucking want, like till the next day, and the day after …and the day after that and just SESAME JACK™ CHICKEN STRIPS and STACKED CHILI CHEESE FRIES till you die and live and die again for all of fucking eternity? Till the next celestial supernova in this galaxy and then again continued on the time-space continuum loop in another parallel worlds… for $10? If so, I’m in…and where the fuck is there still a Friday’s besides the movie Cocktail and the Ontario Airport?

But when I discovered that some truths are, in fact, refutable or reduced to opinions by everyone from world leaders to celebrity jocks, I feel broken. Or, notably, like a spoke that snapped in the wheel that is a society that is wobbling and ceasing to function.

My belief system shaken to its foundation as if there’s fracking going on beneath it, here are two things I still (think I) know to be true about time spent here:

  1. Find out what you’re good at and become an expert in it: I learned when I was about 16 from watching this guy at Aladdin’s Castle Arcade (<– actual arcade name. Also, I had a bumper sticker on my car in high school, a Volvo 240 DL wagon which is the best car ever to drive in high school, that said, “I scored big at Aladdin’s.”) So this guy had the changer-maker thing affixed to his belt. Quarters, nickels, pennies and dimes. Poor dimes man, always getting lost or messing up the order of everything. Anyway, this guy could make change and exchange tickets and give you tips to get to the next level (all of those in the context of if you just heard the audio would sound vaguely like someone trying to instruct a willing teen on how to finger bang a chick… “Now just ease up on the stick and press, no press the button. OK right there. Right there. Faster. Not so hard. OK, move a little to the left. OK, now faster…there. There. You got it. Hold on. Hold on. Oh. Oh. Oh yeah. Oh yeah…oh yeah right there. Phew. Nice job buddy.”) He was a pro at what he did in a sweat-lined Aladdin’s Castle poker visor that you could win for only 2,800 tickets from Skee ball. He wasn’t creepy, at least not to me or my buddies. He believed me when I said the Super Pac Man machine ate your quarter… “Why were you playing Super Pac Man in the first place?” he would deadpan. And he wore the Iron Maiden album catalog in t-shirt form as his work attire. And then he just, he just disappeared from my life after high school like people do. But he was the best at what he did. I witnessed that and I believe it to this day.
  1. And when your expertise is no longer needed, keep striving to figure out what you can really do to help: In other words, I want to believe that the Aladdin’s Castle guy jumped head-first off the Mervyn’s roof when the arcade closed. Because really, what else was there for him to do? Or maybe the arcade’s closure pushed him to go back to JC, then undergrad at Stanford, than post-grad at MIT and he now works for the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and last year helped sequence the genomes of five new breast cancer genes.

…Which brings us to Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving recently said on a podcast that the Earth is fucking — yep — not a sphere. I’m assuming he said this because it shows up on his phone screen as flat. “This is not even a conspiracy theory,” Irving said. “The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.”

They (?)

Fucking shit.

On Friday night at the NBA’s All-Star festivities in New Orleans, ESPN’s Arash Markazi caught up with Irving…who still didn’t back off it even though he could have just googled “Is the Earth round” and gotten this explanation. (<–I feel like they wouldn’t have even written this shit if they didn’t know there would be hundreds of millions of fucking fucktards googling this and going, “Oh yeah, the horizon.”)

“I think people should do their own research, man,” Irving told ESPN. “Hopefully they’ll either back my belief or they’ll throw it in the water. But I think it’s interesting for people to find out on their own. I’ve seen a lot of things that my educational system has said that was real that turned out to be completely fake. I don’t mind going against the grain in terms of my thoughts.”

No, that’s not against the grain…that’s assuming there is no grain. Grain can’t grow unless there’s a spherical Earth rotating around a sun.

And what’s worse, Irving’s on-court rival, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green…did not disagree. “I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t done enough research. But it may be flat. It’s just his opinion. It’s hard to call someone’s opinions crazy. That’s what he thinks.”

No Draymond. No.

Kyrie can say, “Stranger Things was slightly overrated or French Laundry wasn’t worth the 16-month wait or Cirque du Soleil jumped the shark with Zumanity.” Those are fine.

Those are all opinions.

The Earth is a big, gorgeous floating marble in the sky, or as John Muir once said, a “great dewdrop” not a cardboard cutout being spun around by the sign-dancer in front of a North Hollywood Shakey’s.

That’s a fact.

Ironic that all this denial of knowledge comes from men who dribble a spherical ball for a living and throw it through a round hoop. I don’t know if that ball is real, or if it’s a flat piece of cardboard they carry around and use some type of imaging software to simulate the rest. I’ve never seen Draymond or Kyrie up close in real life, so maybe they’re not even real people. Maybe they’re CGI. Maybe the whole NBA is made up.

And to further prove my point, the All-Star game Sunday ended with a totally unbelievable 192-182 final score. Clearly this was not real. And this surely should not be called basketball. A fake game on a fake floor in a fake arena in front of a fake audience…propaganda to make us believe that players who had no interest in being there, much less exerting themselves in the name of the tens of millions of dollars they make annually in contracts and endorsements did bring themselves or at least their holographic images to force the flat ball through the two-dimensional hoop at will.

I for one am not buying it. Whether it was a computer game I was watching or just freakishly large humanoid robots who come with jet packs and a squeaky shoe sound effects, it doesn’t matter. What happened on the so-called court was an abomination, a mere facsimile of the game with an intensity level two notches down from warmups. If this is the best fool-me product they (yes, the same ‘they’ that is lying to us about the Earth) are offering, it should be cancelled. That’s just my opinion.

And it’s hard to call my opinion crazy…because it’s just what I think.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of the novellaBurgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.