By Andy Seidel
It was Christmas Eve in Mo-Town, and Pistons coach Mo “Cratchit” Cheeks was hard at work. If he didn’t figure out a way to sort out his problem soon, his lovely, efficient children Rodney, Greg and Tiny ‘Dre would not only be hungry for shots on Christmas – they would be alone, too, as Mo Cratchit would be slaving away on Christmas.
The problem, of course, was Josh “Ebenezer Smoove” Smith, who was a miserly man when it came to the basketball. He had once been a caring, efficient player, but he had lost all sight of that a long time ago. He was no longer a man who understood that one who is rich should not want for more and one who is 6’9″ and athletically gifted should not settle for jump shots 20-25 feet from the rim. He was ruining Christmas in Detroit for all.
Ebenezer Smoove, as you can see, was a greedy man. Everytime he took more, it left someone else with less. Whether it was his one-time partner, Al “Marley” Horford, or his new coach, Mo Cratchit and his collection of efficient, team-oriented children who truly needed those extra shots far more than Smoove did. It didn’t matter to Ebenezer – until that fateful Christmas Eve.
Ebenezer Smoove had Mo Cratchit hard at work at the Palace, throwing passes so Smoove could work on his 3-point catch-and-shoot. Miss after miss, Mo tried to intervene: “Josh, you’re a 28% career 3-point shooter, but you shoot 4 a game? Why?”
“Josh, Tiny ‘Dre is shooting 60% from the field this season. 60 PERCENT! Wouldn’t it be in the Christmas spirit to try and set him up instead of keeping all 15 of your shots to yourself every night?!”
But alas, none of it worked. Smoove just kept jackin’.
Finally, around midnight in Motown, Mo Cratchit walked out; and said “Smoove, this isn’t what Christmas should be about.” Ebenezer was left all alone at the Palace to practice his shooting in peace. Jumper after jumper he clanked off the rim with no Tiny ‘Dre dunks to put them back in.
Then, all of a sudden, the lights went out at the Palace. Smoove let one more shot fly, and he heard the distinct sound of a ball hitting backboard but no rim and no net.
“Hey,” Smoove hollered into the dark, empty arena. “Who stole my shine?!” ‘
All of the sudden, an apparition appeared in the tunnel. Wearing short-shorts and a 1980s Pistons jersey, it was the ghost of Bill Laimbeer.
“Hey, kid. Let’s take a walk.”
“I don’t have time for that,” Ebenezer Smoove insisted. “I gotta work on my nasty pull-up jumper next.”
“Listen, I’m here to help you, okay? Don’t you want to achieve the kind of excellence I helped bring to this city?” Laimbeer asked Josh with a sigh.
“I don’t know – how many three’s did you hit in a season?”
Laimbeer furrowed his brow and spat on the ground. He said “Alright, screw this, I told Mo it wouldn’t work.”
“Wait,” Josh said with a pause, “Coach sent you?!”
“Yes, you idiot. I’m the ghost of Christmas Past or something,” Ol’ Bill said, pulling a soft pretzel out of his shorts.
“Oh, cool! I love Muppets! Yo, tell coach to wheel another ball-rack out here, I’m almost on empty.”
“But Josh,” Laimbeer said, “You have six full ones right there.”
“Yeah, but it’s only the first half of my simulated game,” answered Smoove.
Laimbeer choked on his pretzel, and then stammered out, “Okay kid, no more shots. We gotta go. Fast. Try and keep up.”
“Shouldn’t be hard to keep up with your fat-white ass.”
“You know I was a Bad Boy, right?”
“You know Diddy?!”
They walked through the tunnel together, Josh “Ebenezer” Smoove humming “All About the Benjamins” and Bill Laimbeer, covered in flour and wearing an undersized 1980s replica of his own jersey, heading towards the Past that it was so important that Smoove see.
They headed down a corridor, and through a door into a room that Ebenezer had seen once before.
“Yo, old dude, this is our film room. I HATE this place. Let’s bounce.”
“Not so fast, Josh! I have something you might want to watch here.”
And with that, Laimbeer fumbled with the projector for three minutes or so, but eventually got it to play a game tape from the 2009-10 Atlanta Hawks season.
“Yo! That’s my old team! There’s Joe, and Mike Woodson, and even Al “Marley” Horford, my old partner! I remember this… we were… we were a very good basketball team, weren’t we?”
“Yes,” Laimbeer said, “you won 53 games that season! And oh, you were fun! Look at all the action around the rim, the corner three’s from Joe Johnson, and you and Al protecting the rim together.”
“How many three’s did I hit that year, again?” Smoove asked, looking skeptical.
“None. And you only shot 7!”
“Alright, I’m done here. I get paid 13.5 million dollars to hit shots, not study history.”
“But Ebenezer, look here – your stats from that season really make it quite clear.”
Josh looked down at his stat line from 2009-10 and couldn’t believe what he saw. He had shot 50% from the field, taken over 5 free throws a game, dished our 4.2 assists, collected 8.7 rebounds and swatted 2.1 blocks while swiping 1.6 steals per contest. His 15.7 points weren’t anything to right home about… but they were better than the 15.4 he was averaging now – and on three fewer shots in each game!
“Oh wow,” Smoove said, amazed at his own past restraint. “I guess J Smoove can share the shine.”
“Exactly!” Laimbeer said. “If you can play inside like I used to, and like you did that one year, and there’s no reason you and these Pistons can’t have that same success! Now quick, we must hurry – you have more to see.”
Like that they were off into the cold Detroit night, where a second apparition was awaiting Ebenezer Smoove…
Part Two of a Mo-Town Christmas Carol will be published tomorrow. Merry Christmas!