Yes, that's actually a photo of Barack Obama flippin' a lefty layup on the court.
“It's Like...I Was The Only Person On The Court...”
The first time I ever heard that word—“unconscious”—used to describe a shooter on a basketball court who was freakishly “on fire”, to the point where he absolutely could not miss and hit a ridiculous number of consecutive shots was in the late 80's in a game between the Motor City “Bad Boys”—the Detroit Pistons, and the Utah Jazz.
The game was close-ish, until the Pistons' Vinnie Johnson, nicknamed “The Microwave” for his ability to generate “instant” offense, took over and proceeded to—as we say around the way, “go nut” throwing in 19 consecutive points in mere minutes. He did it with treys from beyond the arc, drives, little pull-up jumpers and then, when they started fouling him, from the line for a few charity shots. But I remember watching that game with a bunch of people and us all falling down on the floor awe-struck as “The Microwave” just went berserk in that quarter—single-handedly tearing the Jazz apart.
He could NOT be stopped. Bob Costas was doing commentary for the game and it was he I heard say “Vinnie Johnson is just unconscious out there. It's just him and the hoop. He's making it look that easy.”
I saw the Cavaliers' Lebron James go off the same way last season against the Pistons (imagine that!) in the playoffs when he just...freaked it in the fourth quarter of game five, scoring the last 25 points in the game, AND 29 OF THE LAST 30 FOR HIS TEAM. Dunks. Threes. Crazy-ass lay-ups. I was in a bar watching that one and people were falling back against the wall with their hands on their heads over what they were seeing.
He was unconscious.
It's the kind of thing you see so rarely that it's stunning when you do see it.
And I'm frankly stunned watching Barack Obama's campaign doing that equivalent right now.
It's ten straight victories. Trey, deuce, deuce, trey, deuce, trey, trey, dunk, dunk plus one on the foul, and then a crazy tomahawk slam and one on the hack.
I guessed wrong on Louisiana—pragmatically figuring on the de-Blackification thanks to Katrina hurting him among the once-huge African American base there.
I really miscalculated on Maine, thinking the Nor'easters would do their usual “buck the wave” thang and contrarily and “Yankee-ly” turn back the Obama tide.
Blew that one too.
And as for last night, I guess I had it in my head that Wisconsin would tighten up a bit as it seemed unlikely for Obama to keep pulling out food service cases of whipass and opening them like so many sugar packets. I had it in my head that Clinton's “base”—which Wisconsin seemed to be largely composed of, would step in and stem the tide.
Strike three on LowerManhattanite and ”grab some bench” while yer at it, ya bum.
I've been an avid watcher of elections since 1972—a childhood hatred of Richard Nixon entranced me early—and I honestly can't recall a turnaround and breakaway like this one, ever.
Right about now, he is...unconscious.
And in my life, when I've seen “players” go like that, it's almost scary. There is NO DEFENSE when somebody starts feelin' it that way. I saw a friend go berserk in a game against an opponent who had five inches and 30 pounds on him. Dude was straight-up hardwood muscle, and my friend just went into a zone and lit him up for like ten or eleven straight shots. My man even stopped calling fouls as the guy was forced to hack at him something fierce. Didn't matter. Every fucking shot went down. He backed this monster down and turned for a fade-away and this guy slapped my buddy on the arm so hard on the shot that a spray of sweat was visible in addition to the firecracker “pop” of the blow itself.
“Swish!”, still. Fuck a call. “Check!”
My friend told me afterward as we left the park that “It's like...I was the only person on the court...I was feelin' somethin;...you tap into 'the shit' and you just go with it. Don't question it. You just go along for the ride and shoot 'cause it's flowing.”
“It's bigger than you.”
That's what Barack Obama's doing here. He's just shooting. Tapping into “it”. 'Cause “it” is bigger than he is. And that “it” is a tidal wave begun with the Supreme Court's December 2000 judgement that Bush be installed, fluttering down into the collective water of history. The ripple began there, rolled into larger ones with the Iraq debacle, became waves then and rose higher with the repeated flouting of the Constitution—FISA, glad-handing torture, and then, the open subverting of justice, and now crests eight years later on a sweat, shit and pee-inducing Tsunami that isn't about a grumpy bark of “Throw the bums out!”.
No. This is a level beyond that. It's a “Throw the bums out, then burn down the place we were in, so we don't have to remember it and let's build some place completely new that's got no ties to the old bullshit.”
Obama just happens to be the dude who was out there on the breakers when that wave rolled in, and for what it's worth—he's riding the living hell out of it, while everybody else, including unfortunately (for her) Senator Clinton—is directly in the looming shadow of and in the path of the top of that curl's monstrous, white-capped downbreak.
He may not even know how he's doing it. But he does know that he's tapped into “it”.
That intangible, hard-charging “it” that moved those thousands of kids mentioned downpage to walk ten Texas miles to vote early yesterday when their county tried to thwart their exercise of voting rights, and the same “it” that's spreading Obama's appeal well into Clinton's demographic strongholds. Yes, frankly...I'm stunned.
Stunned like I was at Vinnie Johnson in '89.
Stunned as I was on seeing LeBron's scoreboard-shorting crazy last year.
Stunned when I saw my friend tap into that magical tributary of “it”, and then run the hardwood table in that game.
Sometimes...it ain't you. It's the moment. Something in the air. And you just...go with it.
Trey, deuce, deuce, trey, deuce, trey, trey, dunk, dunk plus one on the foul, and then a crazy tomahawk slam—and one on the hack.
The game ain't over. There will be several ugly stretches of “Hack-a-Barack” to blunt the run and wear down the presently-unconscious scorer. The “Big Dog” is gonna stand in the lane and take charges and throw hard elbows. Ohhhhh, it's gonna be tough and bloody yet. But we're in the final minutes—and the Clinton early-game strategy of hanging back and letting Obama shoot without a hand in his face during the caucuses was so Goddamned dumb that her advisers and handlers—the Mark Penns and Howard Wolfsons of the world...need to be sued for mal-fucking-practice. Then, beaten with a rusty boat chain.
The seconds are ticking away though...and Obama's really feelin' it. Unconscious right now.
“It's Like...He's The Only Person On The Court...”
Up for the shot—“Whap!” “Swish!”, still. Fuck a call. “Check!”
Or as the kids like to yell in that song, “Ballin'!