This is the third year we’ve had the privilege of covering Battle 4 Atlantis; the Thanksgiving tournament that as I write this, has pretty much surpassed the Maui Invitational as the premier early season college basketball tournament All of course thanks to Complete Sports Management and the GodMother Leah Miller.
Nal and John have already broken down the teams, players to watch , and apparently the electoral votes of every state and team in the tournament so all that’s left is to watch the games with just a dusting of actual basketball knowledge. Usually for B4A I like to use some vacation time and do hoodrat basketball shit with my friends but this year I couldn’t so I watched ESPN in my office and waited for updates throughout the day until I could head to the night games.
This year featured another Bahamian standout Michigan State’s Lourawls ‘Tum Tum” Nairn. That’s just an amazing name to nickname ratio that name needs to be in the basketball Hall Of Fame somehow. He’s been the heart ant soul of this Spartans team so of course it’s a special trip for him and Coach Izzo wants to make sure that it is. The entire Spartan team visited Sandilands Primary and it was an emotional for Tum Tum and everyone else involved. As Nal opined, this is part of the reason we love sports and this moment really lived up to the message of some things being bigger than basketball.
That was all great and heartfelt but then something weird happened, See these kids thought 10YS was a part of the Michigan State team therefore ascribed to them some level of I don’t know, “Fame” so of course they asked for their autographs. I shit you not.
Anyway on to the Games.
Yeah, so like I said I missed the first two games, I mean mans had work you can’t blame me for that so here we go, and as always we start with the media room:
John’s first reaction to entering the media room was to of course scope out everyone else’s camera equipment, judge their upgrades and develop a mean case of camera/lens envy. This of course led to a rant on how to us about the new camera and lens he’s going to buy. Gotta love a camera arms race.
The first game featured the LSU “We don’t have Ben Simmons Anymore” Tigers vs the Wichita State “Kadeem used to play here” Shockers. I’m a mature person so I won’t make any jokes about Shockers. Nope. Two in the pink… LSU got waxed by Witchita State 82-47, That’s what LSU got for wearing those Laker colors. Coincidently the Warriors were up on the Lakers by almost that same score by halftime(That one was for Cardo). Clearly LSU came for the weather and the wom– clearly they came for the weather, hope y’all enjoy the slides fam.
The second game VCU “We made a tournament once in the tournament and that’s Kari’s only reference for us” Rams and the Baylor “Uniforms so Lit #dubchallenge”Bears. Baylor rocked some ultra-light beam green unis and took the W along with everyone’s eye sight.
I finally get to the Atlantis Imperial Ball Room for the third game the Michigan St “Tum Tum” Spartans. vs the St Johns ”Ron Artest and Erick Barkley ain’t walking through that door” Red Storm. Coming into this one Tum Tum was averaging 2.3 points, 4.8 assist and 2.3 rebounds a game not earth shattering but his leadership and judgement on the court can’t be quantified, not even by Nate Silver.
But this game was different, it was a home coming with his name buzzing in the arena and his grandparents in the side. On the other side playing spoiler the Red Storm was led by Marcus Lovett or as Ammo started calling him “Kobe Iverson” (sick accessory game bro” . Lovett’s dressed like he know this one’s on TV in prime time and I can’t even front I’m worried for Michigan State at this point. On the St. John’s bench St. John’s sits Chris Mullin former NBA all-star and member of Run TMC or as Ammo called him for some reason the 3rd most important person to come from Brooklyn. At this point I’m sure St. John’s is taking the L just on blasphemy and hipster rage alone. Next to Mullin is fellow Run TMCer Mitch Richmond, the second leg of nostalgic Golden State Warrior greatness, so they’re pretty much running the basketball equivalent of opening a bar with your college friends when you get older and making craft beer. Last thing on the St. John’s bench, they’re all wearing shorts…cause it’s The Bahamas I guess and well…
Tom Izzo isn’t wearing shorts, I’m convinced that if this game could be played in hell and that ain’t happening. So I hope you took Michigan State and the points. In typical road game fashion the Spartans started off rocky but the Imperial Ball Room was packed with mostly a mixture of Spartan fans and Bahamians supporting Tum Tum so it morphed into an almost home game environment. The energy in the building was electric and you could feel it viscerally the moment Tum Tum scored his first two points of the game right before the end of the first half.
At halftime we come to two conclusions. One – we’re prepared to be haunted by JuJu on that beat for the rest of our lives and two the prospect of 6’6 college basketball players or an actual basketball crashing into you and your laptop is the chief fear of every person on media row. It’s an every man for himself type of vibe the minute anything heads toward you, so basically Lord of the Flies.
For the Spartans to really make some noise in the tournament, Tum Tum needs to get to about 10 points a game and have other teams show the appropriate level of fear whenever he has the ball. I actually wrote that down and repeated it to some 6-year-old who somehow had a seat next to me. Then the second half happened.
Tum Tum hits a three.
Tum Tum dunks on a St John’s player named Owens and take his soul and the souls of his ancestors. (Owens you don’t want that Smoke).
Tum Tum hits another three
People are going crazy St. John’s is doing what it can to keep up, there’s subtle trash talk from the St. John’s players but the momentum has shifted.
Randy walks over to casual mention that he hate Goins (I have no idea who that is) he insists he’s been in college forever and doesn’t believe he’s ever scored a basket. Everyone is irrational at this point talking crazy right now. John just texted all of us that Tum Tum is going for 50. Settle down John.
By the way this is happening after Lovett changed his shoes from Crip blue to some Xmas joints. Changing sneakers at halftime is a B4A staple and used to spell doom for the opposing team, but not this year. St. John’s goes down but they manage to avoid being baptised by Miles Bridges so I guess it’s a moral victory.
Tum Tum finishes with a season high 13 points (seemed like 50) and if he can do that the Spartans can turn this season around. He and Izzo share a moment and Izzo whispers “A Don doesn’t wear shorts” to Mullin as they shake hands on the court. (That didn’t happen).
Randomly LSU walks full squad school gear to watch the next game and I think there should be a new rule established at B4A. You can’t walk in with any kind of swag when you lost by 40 earlier in the day. You just can’t. Like y’all have to wear your own clothes when you lose that way.
We refuel on Doritios, Apple Crisp Nature Valley Bars and head back in for the last game of the night the Louisville “Insert inappropriate Joke from Nal” Cardinals vs. the Old Dominion “Pease Pioneers” Monarchs. Again I’m leaving all the Louisville scandal jokes to Nal a University of Kentucky alum with an obsession for “Looserville” but I can’t believe they won a national championship with these uniforms. Regardless, this should be easy for Pitno and the gang right?
After the firs 5 minutes we legit start wondering if ODU is ever going to score and consider is 10YS could be doing a better job at beating Pitno’s press. But ODU begins to creep closer and closer, Louisville 10th ranked team in the country looks like they’re in trouble, Nal is so delighted he leaves the game. Something about turning movies off before the bad guy dies. Then it happens as it happens every year at there’s a gem on the bench across from us. Louisville has an assistant/trainer/mascot on the bench, we start calling him Frank that looks like he’s losing his mind at every play. He slams chairs, yells at players, and resists the urge to run on the court and tackle any ODU player with the ball. At this point we stop watching the game and focus on him.(The game was actually a seesaw battle that was well played but whatever). He’s co-MVP of the tournament right now I’m already calling it I don’t care if it’s only day 1.
Louisville ends up winning in overtime but it was tense there was real fear Frank would run out on the court and execute every WWE finishing move on the opposing team. Thankfully we were saved from that scenario….for now.