My favorite quote, and the only one by which I try to live, came from Conan O’Brien on his last episode of “The Tonight Show.” Paraphrased, it was “don’t be an a-hole.” Harvard grad that he is, he put it more eloquently.
“All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality; it doesn’t lead anywhere," he said. "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”
WHAT THE FUSS IS ABOUT
I can take or leave the “amazing things will happen” part, but the beginning of the quote was one of those “this singer wrote this song for me” moments. I completely identify with it, and it's probably why I spend so much time arguing with Felger.
People who are cynical for the sake of being cynical are the worst. Let people enjoy what they want to enjoy and don’t waste your time looking for problems with every little thing. When you’re cynical, you’re usually an a-hole, and you really don’t need to be.
That’s why I feel terrible today. The Lonzo Ball Foot Locker commercial isn’t that good and I’m going to lose my damn mind over it being treated like it’s some work of art. I'm so rattled by the praise it's getting that I'm going to be a little cynical.
The commercial dropped Wednesday morning, featuring NBA prospects discussing their fathers ahead of Father’s Day and the NBA draft. Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum share their stories of going to practices and games together, and mixed in with the mundane are Lonzo Ball’s stories about how crazy his dad is. When you first realize the joke, it’s cute.
Cute. That’s it. Not “hilarious.” Not “phenomenal.” Not “fantastic.” It was kind of enjoyable.
So like Elaine with “The English Patient” (I’m sorry I had to go with that obvious a reference), I felt like a crazy person seeing each and every person on the internet trip over themselves to say how great it was.
This Lonzo Ball Father's Day commercial is fantastic. https://t.co/yOXM9EaeWe— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 14, 2017
This commercial is so awesome! https://t.co/rWhydir7sB— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) June 14, 2017
This is the first good choice the Ball family has made all year. https://t.co/wIM0f7IMKl— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) June 14, 2017
Really, I get why this happens. It’s the same as when anyone laughs at Bill Belichick calling social media platforms by made-up names for the thousandth time. It isn’t very funny, but we love these sports figures, so we laugh.
That shows how disconnected from real life sports fans and media can be. We all have loved ones whose jokes we’ll laugh at even when they’re not funny, because it’s mean and unnecessary to go out of your way to say they aren’t. But the reaction to this commercial isn’t just laughing as a courtesy. It’s the entire sports world saying that its sense of humor is so bland that this commercial brings words like “phenomenal” to mind.
This isn’t to say that Lonzo Ball isn’t funny. I don’t know the guy, but I can guess LaVar was a million percent on board with this video, making these “Oh, look, Lonzo gets it” takes stupid. Did anyone think Lonzo Ball didn’t think his father was a lunatic? We’ve only seen this mess for a few months. He’s had it his whole life. Of course he knows how crazy it is.
And it's certainly not to say athletes aren't funny, because a lot of them are hilarious. Roberto Luongo is an absolute genius. Paul Bissonnette? Terrific. Between the United Way commericial and the Herb Alpert locker room sketch, Peyton Manning was delightful on SNL.
But this commercial was decent and mildly amusing. No more, no less. Comedy and sports don’t cross over too often; we don’t have to act like it’s hilarious ever time they do.