Royals Phenom Eric Hosmer, Kimbo Slice & I Judged A Slam Dunk Contest
Wait, you think that’s an odd mix? Well, you may just leave this dinner party good sir. I imagine one day, in the distant future, I will tell my children about the time I held up paper “10″ placards for high school basketball players who dunked for show in front of me, Royals legend Eric Hosmer and the baddest man of the 2000′s, Kimbo Slice.
Will my kids believe me? Probably not, since I’ll have my polo tucked into pleated jeans up near my naval, and will be sipping on a pomegranate blend to help my urinary flow. They will not think I was ever cool enough to be at an amateur slam dunk contest unless I was selling the Air Heads at the concession stand.
But indeed kids, when I worked at SportsRadio 560 WQAM in Miami for those two bizarre years, I was once invited by American Heritage High School to come judge their slam dunk contest. (I say bizarre, because South Florida in general toes the line of absurd daily. Ask anyone who’s lived there. It’s retirees, and immigrants, and burnouts, and petty criminals, and Northerners that hate the snow. You all live within five minutes of one another. It rains every day at the same time for two hours for five months. There are 23-hour liquor stores. You have to know at least a little Spanish to be functional. It has the best-looking women on the planet, none of which speak your language. And driving on 95 is like Grand Theft Auto. Believe me – it’s just bizarre.)
At the time, Hosmer was a recent grad of Heritage and had been drafted by Kansas City. He was not a star yet. He did not yet have all of Missouri and Kansas tweeting Chuck Norris-esque hashtags about him. My friend Jeff Passan had yet to write one breathless column about Hosmer’s Cooperstown potential for Yahoo! yet.
Hosmer was polite and cool and I had told him he would love K.C., since I had worked out there for nearly five years. (Kansas City is not bizarre. It’s the opposite. It’s so normal, it’s awesome. I say that with no sarcasm. I loved everything about KC. Go read Posnanski’s farewell piece. It sums it up. I mean, he’s a little sappy for most men that don’t own every Hugh Grant film. But believe me when I tell you, KC’s the best.)
Kimbo was simply the meanest motherf****r on the planet at the time – just a few years removed from beating the glue out of dudes for money in Miami backyards, which made him a YouTube sensation. Yeah, when he finally entered the ring as an MMA fighter he got his ass kicked. So what? He was like 40, bald and had about 10 kids. Submission moves in Miami backyards consisted of punching the guy in the face until his eye popped out. I still think he’s a monster. That’s why I bought a Kimbo t-shirt and wore it under my button-up that day. I ripped off my shirt to display my Kimbo tee just before we took the below picture with his family. (Yes, all those kids are related to him in some way – well, except me and the other white dude.) That room erupted. I felt pretty special.
So Ken Rosenthal is writing about Hosmer’s debut this week and Bill Simmons is bragging that he drafted him on his fantasy team and Scott Boras is talking about the free agent bidding war for Hosmer in 2017. And all I can think about is that evening I hung out with the last big thing (Kimbo) and the next big thing (Hosmer), giving every high school player we watched a ten for jamming a basketball.
Here’s my pictures: