Al Roker: Slimmed Down But Not Ready to Step Up?

“Take over The Today Show? Sure. Right after I finish this hot dog.”

If it’s early in the morning and I’m trapped in a doctor’s office where the television is tuned to The Today Show, I don’t pay much attention to the various personalities on the program and their comings and goings.

So when it was mentioned that host Matt Lauer might be on the way out of the venerable show and NBC was looking at CNN’s Anderson Cooper as a possible replacement, posters on the National Association of Black Journalists rightfully wondered why is it (again) that Black talent can’t be found in the pipeline of possible replacements.

Possible replacement being Al Roker.  Mr. Weather Guy.  Mr. Gastric Bypass and Lost 100 Pounds.  Mr. “I Do the Lighter Segments on the Show.”

Al Roker?   Now why did that name escape me?

We are in “the pipeline” only if you think Al “I Crapped My Pants at The White House” Roker is a serious contender to move from Black Guy Comic Relief over to Lauer’s Big Chair.

I think we know better than that, don’t we?

You don’t have to lower yourself into stupidity to gain empathy, okay? If one of the unfortunate effects of Roker’s gastric bypass was unexpected and uncontrolled bouts of diarrhea, that’s understandable. But why tell the world? NOBODY needs to know that!

Slimmed down and ready to step up?

If you will do anything for a laugh and play yourself as the fool, you can’t turn around later and wonder why you’re not being taken seriously. Al Roker probably deserves a shot at replacing Matt Lauer as the host of The Today Show. But like Clint Eastwood growled, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.”

The problem of a blackout of Black talent from the television is an ongoing dilemma.   CNN has cast off Soledad O’Brien and told my old buddy Roland Martin to find another home for his contributions.    When MSNBC decided to shake up their prime time line-up, they exiled Ed Schultz to a weekend oblivion and promoted Chris Hayes over Melissa Harris-Perry as the newest sacrificial lamb to the “The O’Reilly Factor” juggernaut.    Byron Pitts left CBS and 60 Minutes  for another job at ABC leaving the venerable newsmagazine with no Black correspondent.

Yep, it’s a problem all right.   I’m just not convinced Al Roker is the solution.

By playing the fool so well and so long, Roker has effectively it impossible to be taken seriously. If you’re an executive at NBC and mulling over whom to replace Lauer because the President and the First Lady have invited the Today Show host in to speak to them, who would you rather have representing your show and network? Anderson Cooper or the guy who took a dump in his Dockers in the White House?

Too much information. Roker played himself. It’s not about any need to humiliate Roker or taking pleasure in his misfortune. It’s about when you know the odds are already stacked against you, but you’ve paid your dues and know the job, why ruin your own chances by demonstrating your unfitness are for the position?

Being mean about Roker, who seems like a genuinely nice guy feels a bit like kicking a kitten.  It’s completely  unjustifiable and unnecessary and I feel a little jerky for even mentioning it.

However, consistency means if I’m pulling for Black folks when they prove they are qualified for the job, I have to say “Sorry” when they show they are not.   Roker has played the second banana so well and for so long, it raises doubts he’d be a good fit in the Big Chair.

Nobody wants to see a brother get a break more than I do, but Roker’s image is one of  a former heavyweight who’s a total lightweight.

Heyyy baby, Even do it with gingerbread?

Abuse of the Elderly (or Why Air Jordan Against King James is a Bad Idea)

Michael, please.  Don't embarrass yourself.

Michael, please. Don’t embarrass yourself.

The silliest debate is What If the best of the best of one era could square off against the best of another?   Depending on the quality of the match-up,  the advantage will almost always go to the younger over the older.  Youth may be wasted on the young, but it’s a significant advantage over the old.

Michael Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats, the most terrible team in the NBA.  That’s pretty impressive to own the most terrible team in a league full of terrible teams such as the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors, and Sacramento Kings, but the 16-54 Bobcats are the lousiest of the lousy.

The primary purpose of the Bobcats is to give better teams an easy win and offer Jordan dumbstruck young players he can scrimmage against, break a sweat, and entertain the fantasy that even now Jordan could play in the talent-diminished NBA.

He can’t.  There are some opponents even His Airness can’t beat and one-on-one Father Time hasn’t lost a game yet.

Which isn’t going to stop rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from feeding the fantasy after he admitted he lost to Jordan playing one-on-one.

“It was hard for me,” Kidd-Gilchrist said,  “I lost. He’s the greatest man that ever played the game.

“Oh, yeah. He’s good.”

Okay, MKG.  You’ve shown how much you can brown nose the boss.  Now get back out there on the court and do what you do best.  Losing repeatedly.

Hey LeBron, where's the rest of yours?

Hey LeBron, where’s the rest of yours?

Anyone who thinks a 50-year old Michael Jackson can come off the golf course to ball with dudes half his age is on dope or dog food.

The only thing MJ can do in the NBA on the court at this point is to get his feelings hurt. Badly.

I read a ESPN story about Mikey wanting to get back on the court and hoop. Puh-leeze. He’d better sit his butt down in the executive seats and watch his lousy team get creamed. The Heat pounded the snot out of the Bobcats on Sunday, 109-77 and number #23 was nowhere to be found.

Could you imagine Jordan trying to challenge LeBron James one-on-one? There would be nothing but broken ankles, soiled skivvies and bad karma from Jordan. I like Mike, but Space Jam was a looooonnng time ago.  At this point even Bugs Bunny could dunk on him.   If he could find a time capsule and go back to when he was 25 he could give Lebron a game.  At 50, it’s not going to even be contest.  Mike would face someone stronger, faster, bigger and who could take him to the hole repeatedly.   LeBron should spot Mike the first shot because it would be the only one he’d get.

His Airness could hang with King James…for all of one, maybe two trips up and down the court. LeBron would kill Michael. Not just beat him like a runaway slave. He would KILL Jordan. He’d go up on M.J. for a sick dunk like he put on Jason Terry last week, but Jordan would hit the floor and dissolve in a puff of smoke and dust. OLD smoke and dust.

“Oh, yeah. He’s good.”

“Dear Mike. You ARE too old for this shit. Love, Father Time.”

 

Correction.  Past tense.  WAS good.  Jordan WAS the greatest player of all time in the NBA and it’s not even a close call.  I loved watching Julius Erving  play but he wasn’t better than Jordan.   Larry Bird had a sweeter shooting stroke and a competitive streak as mean and nasty as Jordan’s, but he wasn’t better than Jordan.   Shutting down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar exquisite (and never duplicated) “Sky Hook” was an impossibility, but Kareem wasn’t better than Jordan.

But that was then and then was from between 1984 to 1998 as the unquestioned leader of the Chicago Bulls.    The Michael Jordan whose ego told him it would be a good idea to come out of retirement to  play for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003?   The M.J. who used to slap his own teammates upside the head should have slapped that guy back into a rocking chair.    Well, that 40-something Jordan should be slapping this one and anybody else who doesn’t want to see his legacy tarnished any further by yet another pointless comeback.

Jordan didn’t have the reflexes to stay with Allen Iverson after his killer crossover juked him outta his jockstrap.   And now you want Jordan to drag his ass up and down the court trying to stay with the bigger, stronger, faster and BETTER LeBron James?

Even Kobe Bryant knows better than that.     James is 28.  Bryant is 34.  Jordan is 50.   Kobe can’t get out of LeBron’s 6’8″, 250 pound body quick enough when he’s making a special delivery slam dunk.   Kobe isn’t likeable, but he’s not stupid.   What would Jordan do with James barreling down on him full speed and bad intentions?   If he’s smart he steps aside and says, “Pardon me, Mr. James”  otherwise he had better leave  final instructions on what to do with the body.

Somethings are not “must-see TV.”   Jordan might choose Bryant over James if he were holding a fantasy draft for the Bobcats, but that’s only because going mano-a-mano, Bryant would just make Jordan look stupid.    Going up against King James would be abusing the elderly and who wants that?

Let that dream go.   It would only be a nightmare for Michael.    Jordan likes poking the bear, but the bear named LeBron would eat hm alive and not even bother to swallow.  He’d spit him out and just glare at him with a sad look that says, “I can’t believe you wanted any of this.”

Please don’t encourage abuse of the elderly.  Let M.J. have his awful team, his cigars, his swirlie girlfriends, his Ball Park franks and tagless undies and his hideous and overpriced sneakers.  In his time and prime Jordan used to enjoy to take sadistic pleasure out of bullying weaker, slower opponents.

I’m not so cruel as to enjoy seeing the young bully now being bullied.