Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My Favorite Martian

I mentioned last week that my favorite Martian, Rashad "Robots" McCants, flashes a two-handed diamond sign after big baskets. Well, the News & Observer finds out exactly what it means:
SIGNS & SHOTS: ..."It's for my family," McCants explained. "It's La Familia, which means The Roc."

His family saw the sign several times Saturday as the Tar Heels star scored 20 first-half points and finished with a game-high 28.
However, it's not clear if McCants is referring to Dwayne Johnson or Charles Dutton when he talks about the Roc. Whatever the case -- and for whatever reason McCants has for doing it -- I think it's pretty funny and harmless. Of course, anything short of jumping in the stands and beating up the wrong scrawny white kid passes for harmless these days, but you get my point.

Even before I saw this story (but after seeing the Kentucky - UNC game) I was thinking that there has to be a finite number of hand gestures an athlete can make after a big play. I mean, at some point, everything will have been done, right? I'm not so sure, because just when you think things can't get any sillier, they do.

Here are a couple of celebratory hand-signals that came to mind as I was thinking about this:

2 Legit 2 Quit
I hesitated to even mention this, but because it's so embarrassingly good I couldn't leave it off. 2 Legit 2 Quit is to celebratory hand signs what Eric Roberts is to the theatre. Which might explain why it was popular for a season or two in the early 1990's with the Atlanta Falcons. Here's some free advice: If MC Hammer is involved, it's probably not a good idea (my apologies to all of you MC Hammer fans out there). Still, there was nothing more entertaining than watching Deion Sanders, with Jheri curl in full effect, busting out the one-haned "2 Legit" sign.

Raise the Roof
Raise the roof was good. In fact, it was so good it spawned derivatives. I remember Nick Van Exel doing the one-armed reverse raise the roof (I'm pretty sure he didn't call it that, but since I didn't know the proper name I just made one up). Unfortunately, the second Tiger Woods did the one-armed raise the roof after a hole in one in Phoenix, I knew the writing was on the wall. If having professional golfers emulate professional football and basketball players isn't the kiss of death, I don't know what is.

The Omega
When it originated, athletes flashed the "Omega" in reference to the the college fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. The Omega was much better than raise the roof, in part because guys looked a lot tougher flashing the "Omega" than they did waving their arms up and down. After it caught on however, you were pretty sure that everyone showing the Omega wasn't actually a fraternity member. I started to become skeptical when a high school kid showed the "O" after making a layup.

One of the greatest (psuedo) celebratory hand gestures ever involved two guys I don't care much for. Reggie Miller gave Spike Lee "the Choke" after Miller hit a big basket late in the Eastern Conference Finals that pretty much sealed the fate of the Knicks. What made "the Choke" so great was that it was: (a) spontaneous, (b) funny, and (c) true. Plus, it's not something that can be used every game. I mean, I can't really see Vlade Divac giving "the Choke" after making a first quarter free throw (however, I can very easily imagine him taking himself out of the game to have a smoke break on the bench). And that's what makes it memorable -- the fact that it hasn't been CSI'd to death (you know, since the original CSI was so wildly popular CBS decided to make spinoffs in seemingly every US city, even if there's no crime to speak off). Kind of related to "the Choke" is the Chris Webber "Cutting the Throat" gesture (you thought I was going to bring up the Chris Webber 1993 illegal timeout in the NCAA finals, right?). Of course seconds after Webber did it, David Stern made it a fineable offense (and that was probably the right decision), but at least it was original.

So as I finish my stroll down celebratory-hand-gestures-in-organized-sports lane, I wonder what the future holds for said hand gestures. And much like our natural resources, hand gestures are finite, which means that if we are not forward-thinking in our approach to them, in 10 years we could all end up doing some variation of "2 Legit 2 Quit" at an NBA game. Of course McCants will have long since returned to his home planet by then, so at least that won't be a problem for him.