Howie Jolliff was sitting alone on his front porch one crisp October evening in rural Sissonville, Ohio when he got the phone call. His niece, who lives in LA, had read a piece in the sports section of the Times which had made mention of the now seventy four year old former Laker. Howie was surprised and delighted.
     “Really?” he asked his niece, his aged voice quivering slightly in anticipation. “What’d it say?”
      There was an awkward silence on the other end of the line.
      “It’s not good uncle Howie. Jerry West just held a press conference to declare you the worst teammate he ever had.”
      The news hit the emaciated elder like a sledgehammer.
      “Wh-wh-wh-what?”
      He hadn’t seen or spoken with his former teammate in nearly half a century. Although they were never terribly close, Howie had no reason to believe that the Hall of Famer harbored any kind of grudge against him, or for that matter ever thought of him at all.
     “I’m sorry,” she said, “I just thought you should hear it from me.”
      The press conference had come as a shock to many. As the reporters waited for West to arrive, many speculated that they were there to hear about the Warriors, with whom West is a consultant, or perhaps as part of further publicity for his book. Instead, they were met with a surprisingly bitter forty minute diatribe about a player most of them were hearing about for the first time.  When it came time for questions, one reporter summoned the guts to ask what many of his colleagues were thinking.
     “Isn’t this a little beneath you Mr. West? I mean, you’re the NBA logo for chrissakes.”
      The living legend seemed somewhat amused as he considered this.
     “Well, I wouldn’t have said anything, but with this Smush thing in the news lately I thought to myself—you know what? Fuck Howie Jolliff.”
      A stunned silence fell over the room. Though occasionally moody, West had always been perceived as an exemplary teammate and a paragon of professionalism. Nobody in attendance had even heard him curse before.
     “One thing I can say about Howie, he actually managed to shoot a touch over fifty percent…from the foul line. I shouldn’t be too tough on him though, he did almost average three points a game over the hundred and thirty eight games I carried his sorry ass. Yeah, good job big man.”
     At this point Mr. West paused and lifted his hands from the podium to do some mock clapping before continuing.
     “Did you know Elgin and I came within a game of the title in '62 with him sopping up almost twenty minutes of valuable playing time a night? I honestly believe that Russ would only have enough rings for both hands if those minutes had been given to someone even vaguely competent or athletic.” Even though he was only 6’7, Jolliff would often play at center, something West disparagingly highlighted. “So we got this schlub and the other team has who? Bill Russell. Those were the only moments I actually wanted that clod to shoot. It was worth the turnover just to see Russ rob him of his manhood.”
     West sat silently for a moment before adding, “And his sister was pretty ugly.”
     Howie Jolliff played all three years of his pro career for the Lakers. Life after the NBA wasn’t always easy for him, but he liked to think that he conducted himself with a certain quiet dignity and grace. He took pride in his achievements on the hardwood and liked to tell the few who would listen about the time he walked amongst giants. Now all of that is shattered. However, for the first time in his life he’s actually getting calls from sportswriters, and he’s taken the opportunity to paint a darker picture of Mr. Clutch.
     “One time, we were on the road and I got up to go to the bathroom. When I came back Jerry was in my seat. He looked like he was asleep but now that I think about it he might have just been pretending. I thought it was odd. There were plenty of seats on the bus and Jerry had already been seated comfortably. It kind of ticked me off but I didn’t say anything at the time.”
     In the wake of these events several other venerable players have come forth to throw dirt on former forgotten teammates. Bob Petit has gone on record to say amusingly named Win Wilfong “couldn’t shoot for shit”, and a personage of no less regard than William Russell recently accused Lou Tsioropoulos of “sucking ass”.  Oscar Robertson, on the other hand, isn’t naming names.
     “To be honest, all my teammates suffered from the same deplorable condition of not being Oscar Robertson. I could single somebody out, but really they were all failures—except for Kareem maybe. For a guy who wasn’t Oscar Robertson he was almost half decent.”
      Back in Sissonville the leaves are changing, the nights are getting longer, and the town is gearing up for Halloween. Howie’s block especially is renowned for its elaborate decorations, and his are traditionally among the best. Even kids from surrounding towns will make the journey out to Mr. Jolliff’s house. Those who come this year will find a dark yard and a house with the lights turned off.
     “I gave up this year,” the septuagenarian admitted, “I thought it’d be great, and that I could lose myself in the holiday a bit and forget about this nonsense. Boy was I wrong. Damn kids stole the mummy off my porch. Somebody popped my blow up Frankenstein. I had these novelty tombstones that were really a hoot, but someone spray-painted some very vulgar suggestions on them for me.  I guess I’m kind of a celebrity now. Life can be pretty strange sometimes. As a younger man, I used to spend a lot of time daydreaming about becoming famous by playing basketball; I just never dreamed it would be for being so bad at it.”
24 Comments:
Anonymous Barry said...
Bravo Glenn, reminds me of Bawful himself, very amusing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
what lol

Blogger Wormboy said...
Ha! That's awesome.

Blogger Miles Zurawell said...
This, my friend, is a work of satirical genius. Well done, sir.

Blogger Miles Zurawell said...
This, my friend, is a work of satirical genius. Well done, sir.

Blogger Dan B. said...
Amazing. Just... amazing.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
I have to admit, I am pretty damn good at picking talent!

;)

Blogger Glenn said...
Thanks everyone. I appreciate the kind words.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Good writing,keep it it up!

Blogger Jason said...
Awesome work Glenn!!!

Blogger C said...
This was amazing; though I'm sad now. I wonder if it will color my next reading of a "worst of the night."

Blogger senormedia said...
Well-played.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
An exaggerated, if absolutely incomparable, piece.

Blogger Wormboy said...
I want to toss out the idea that a more conversation-friendly comments section could promote discussion of the main posts, discussion of hoops in general, and maybe increase traffic of regulars and make it more likely that newcomers will visit again.

Blogger Wormboy said...
You know how Centers go to Hakeem to learn to be real centers (but fail to improve because they don't have his astonishing work ethic and smarts that he developed over many years, much less the most beautiful fadeaway ever seen from a man over 7 feet)? The Dream was easily the best center technically during his career, and one could argue the best center at a technical level ever. No wonder they come crawling to him!

How about the same thing for rebounding? And who else but Dennis Rodman? Gotta be a column, oh I wish that Matt would do this rather than his continuing torrid affair with Scarlett Johanssen. This about the numbers: from 91-92 to 97-98 his average boards per game for the regular season were 18.7, 18.3, 17.3, 16.8, 14.9, 16.1, 15.0. Let's have a moment of silence to contemplate the pure dominance of those years. I do remember looking at the newspaper during lunch during those years, and seeing Rodman's average being 4-5 boards per game higher than the next guy in the league. He's qualified.

The thought was inspired by this column: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8523933/how-brook-lopez-hinders-brooklyn-nets-title-hopes

Talking about how Brook Lopez is a terrible rebounder and will be an anchor dragging at the Nets this year (that's assuming that the rest of the Nets can't be held back, a story line designed to garner page views in a big market, and which I'm most definitely not buying). I can't tell you how many fun ideas abound in Rodman camp. From a serious basketball perspective, he'll coach player on how to study film for rebound angles for each opposing shooting. He'll teach them how to achieve ungodly conditioning: hours on the cycle prefaced by some lines of coke. You could riff on hairstyles, piercings and tats along for a few columns (don't forget that the man was swimming in tats before it became at all common in the NBA).

http://live.drjays.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Dennis-Rodman.jpg

The Worm could even hire an assistant on the cheap: ladies and gentlemen, Scot Pollard! He will supplement Rodman in the facial hair and interviewing fields. And not too shabby for an assistant. He can coach the guys who don't start but want to make a real impact (seriously, look at Pollard's per 36 minutes rebounding stats: over 10 per game for many years, including those fun runs in Sacramento).

And Rodman's skills are remarkably diverse. How do you handle stints in pro wrestling? How do you handle periods in rehab? Hell, he could even advise retired stars on tragic reality show appearances!

The potential is endless. Don't forget his uncanny touch with referees:

http://live.drjays.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Dennis-Rodman.jpg

I present to you the Dennis Rodman camp for how to be a boards Hoover.

Anonymous Flud said...
I want one of them weird gray Spurs tops with Eddy Curry's name on it. hope he makes the roster... Ha ha ha ha ha ... brilliant. E-City!!

Anonymous geert hammink said...
thank god there's some decent writing here instead of evil ted shitting the place apart.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Apparently geert did not read the title of the post.

Blogger Wormboy said...
Heh.

Oh, and I'd argue that the marquee needs to be re-shopped. There's not much more bawful than Rasheed Wallace playing again, and on the geriatric Knicks no less (with the oldest roster EVER).

Blogger Dan B. said...
Evil Ted -- I'm like 99% sure you are the most polarizing figure in sportswriting today. Congratulations?

Wormboy -- Yeah, the comments section here isn't the greatest. But it's what Blogger lets us easily use. I can't say I know anything about doing anything different with it? Also, man, the marquee... It seems like it needs to be redone every six weeks because the NBA continues to be so freakin' bawful.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hello. I just wanted to share this piece of bawfulness

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1380489-pacers-roy-hibbert-takes-flash-mob-to-gangnam-style-greatness?utm_campaign=tsipad&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=teamstream


Blogger Evil Ted said...
Dan - How I can manage to get shit on without even writing a word...even in silence, I polarize and infuriate people. No win.

As for comment capabilities, I've seen far worse than what blogger offers. Just try to google an answer to a computer / Microsoft question and you can sucked into the most convaluted sidetracked strings of poop anywhere...

...I'm sure that observation will infuriate someone.

ET

Blogger Raza said...
I miss this place! Can't wait for the season to start


Anonymous Mike Carlson said...
I hope the season starts so we can really make it going!

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