The Chicago Bears gave us the Super Bowl Shuffle, which probably should have been where the line was drawn in the sand between athletes and entertainers.
But you knew it wouldn’t end there, not when all you need is a video camera, three very bored young athletes and a city like Buffalo, N.Y., where the most exciting thing to do is watch wings marinate.
So it was last weekend, as the West Virginia University Mountaineers spent more than 72 hours in Buffalo, less than five of which was spent on the basketball court advancing past Morgan State and Missouri and into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, that Da’Sean Butler, Joe Mazzulla and Jonnie West decided to do something creative.
With teammate John Flowers making like Quentin Tarantino with a video camera in his hands, Butler, Mazzulla and West stepped front and center and created a music video that currently is sweeping the Internet, despite being, artistically speaking, a piece of work that would be best swept under the rug.
If pop music gave us Boyz 2 Men, this video is closer to Boyz 2 Children.
All we can say after having watched the tape is the popular group Boys Like Girls has nothing to worry about as Butler, Mazzulla and West’s lip synching and choreography is far more a threat to the existence of the human race than it is to any artist’s spot in the Top 20.
“We were stuck in the hotel room for four or five days,” Butler explained before the final Morgantown practice as the team prepared to head to Syracuse for a Thursday date with the Washington Huskies. “We were just playing around.”
Musically and artistically this added very little to our culture. If they play basketball the way they entertain, Washington is 25-point favorite.
But comically, that is entirely a different story, and make no doubt this was done purely for laughs.
True, as one person commented, it does remind you of a group of teenage girls away from home for the first time, between the chuckles and giggles. Of course, someone thought it was offensive, and there is a touch of sexual innuendo involved.
“I hope we didn’t offend anyone,” Butler would say, even though there was a failed attempt at de-pantsing West.
“It must be pretty good,” Butler said. “It’s got 60,000 or 70,000 views.”
The truth is this video, which can be found on deadspin.com, is both innocent and comical, the result of a group of young adults caught up in a hotel room with time on their hands while they are trying to relieve both the boredom and pressure that comes with the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s the time of our lives,” Mazzulla told Michael Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail. “The championships and the Sweet Sixteens and all that mean everything, but you never forget the memories you have from bus rides and plane rides. I could tell you stories for days about times we almost peed ourselves because we were laughing at how immature we are and how funny we are. Show me a guy who doesn’t have stories from college and I’ll show you a guy who hasn’t lived his life.”
Things like this just happen, be they on a high school field trip or an athletic road trip. Toss in a group like this one, where there are no holds barred, and you know you are going to have some moments that defy explanation.
Flowers, perhaps, might be the ultimate instigator on the team. You might recall how each game begins for the Mountaineers, with the team gathering in a circle around Flowers, arms around each other’s shoulder, sliding side to side as Flowers delivers his own version of whatever the dance of the moment might be.
He might stomp on the floor as if beating an opponent, hammer his imaginary foe with an elbow or grab him by the throat, elevate him to an arm’s length above the ground, then body slam him to the gymnasium floor as teammates laugh and shout, the tension broken for the moment.
It is almost as if Flowers’ greatest contribution to the team comes before the opening tip, although he has proven to be a valuable player who provides a spark off the bench.
“Sometimes people forget basketball is supposed to be fun,” Flowers once observed. “I try to make it fun for everybody else.”
That includes messing, at times, with opponents’ mascots, like last year when the Georgetown bulldog was entertaining the crowd by taking shots only to have Flowers swoop in and block one.
But even Flowers outdid himself this time. Running the video camera and laughing loudly at times in the background, he is there as Butler and Mazzulla do their dance while West lip synchs to the music.
West, of course, maintains that it would be even better if he were allowed to sing it, but Butler simply shakes his head and says, “No, no.”
“I should be on American Idol,” West argues.
“If he was on American Idol he’d be going home now,” Butler said.
Having viewed the tape, let’s just say this group’s future lies in basketball, not music.
However, if they beat Washington and then either Kentucky or Cornell, whichever advances, they ought to bring Flowers out from behind the camera so he could join Butler, Mazzulla and West.
They could bill themselves as “The Final Four”.
E-mail Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.