​Honorable Mention: April Showers

by Ray Lu | 4/2/18 2:10am

Honorable Mention: April Showers

Welcome to April. It’s the month of allegedly warmer weather, the eventual end of Hanover’s winter parking ban and April Fools’ Day. In eighth grade, I pretended to sprain my ankle walking to school to prank my middle school football coach, who gave me no more than a glance and told me to go see the trainer. You would’ve thought I could’ve come up with a better trick, but 13-year-old me was no Mark Ruffalo in “Now You See Me.” I showed up to practice later that day without my crutches and ran with my teammates, hoping to surprise the coaches with a miraculous recovery. In fact, they had all forgotten that I was injured, which makes sense considering I caught two passes all year. You could say I was a big deal. 

April also plays host to a busy month of sports: the NBA playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the beginning of baseball season, the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament finals, a mass of soccer competitions that I can’t pretend to understand, the National Football League draft and the start of Overwatch League Stage 3 — the Shanghai Dragons take on the Dallas Fuel Wednesday at 7 p.m. 

Little has changed in the NBA playoff standings in the past week. The Eastern Conference playoff teams look set, though seeding is still volatile. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers sit two games out of the playoffs but are very much alive. Somewhere in Salt Lake City, Donovan Mitchell is still throwing down yams. 

The day that I wrote about his absence, Markelle Fultz returned to the lineup for the Philadelphia 76ers, and I’m sure my column had a lot to do with it. Between some sweet moves and non-crooked jumpers, Fultz put up 10 points and eight assists against the Nuggets in his first game back. In the 76ers’ very next game two days later, he bodied teammate Joel Embiid on a screen and fractured Embiid’s face, knocking the star center out of commission for at least two to four weeks. Yes, you read that correctly: Embiid, Fultz and Ben Simmons were healthy together for a little over a game before the next injury. Somewhere, Sam Hinkie is shedding a single, bittersweet tear. Elsewhere, Jahlil Okafor is still learning to play defense.

At the other end of the standings, we have a race to the bottom with teams like my beloved Dallas Mavericks, the New York Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. I can’t say I blame them; this incoming draft class is incredible. We’re talking about prospects like DeAndre Ayton, the Bahaman seven-footer who averaged a casual 20 points, 11 rebounds and nearly two blocks a game for the University of Arizona. Forget that 21-point loss to 13-seed University of Buffalo in the NCAA Tournament. This guy is the real deal — deceptively good even, like Mark Ruffalo in “Now You See Me 2.” 

Beyond Ayton, a potential slate of Marvin Bagley, Mohamed Bamba (Hook ’em), Luka Doncic and Michael Porter is enough to make any general manager salivate. I personally have a vested interest in Doncic to Dallas. A Dirk Nowitzki to Luka Doncic transition would hopefully be reminiscent of the David Robinson to Tim Duncan shift, probably minus the rings (except one, God bless 2011).

Trae Young, the University of Oklahoma star, is also draft eligible and is going pretty high in mock drafts. It seems like not too long ago when another guard was coming out of Oklahoma with a lot of hype. Wonder what he’s up to nowadays. Earlier in the NCAA Tournament, I told my buddy who attends Oklahoma that I picked them to upset the University of Rhode Island in the first round, to which he responded, “Thanks Ray, but it’s a hard disagree from me.” In unrelated news, my bracket “Mo Bamba Mo Problems” is sitting at a cool 61st percentile. 

I picked my even more beloved University of Texas Longhorns to face off in the Sweet Sixteen against the University of Tennessee and former Texas head coach Rick Barnes. It’s safe to say that matchup never materialized, but I’ll confess I still feel dirty for picking Tennessee to win the revenge game. Sister Jean, please cleanse my soul.

Honorable Mention of the Week:

Yes, the vintage Toronto Raptors Vince Carter jersey is dope. Yes, the Dikembe Mutumbo rainbow throwback Nuggets jersey looks awesome. I just think it’s time that people begin to embrace wearing jerseys of non-superstar players — one-time All Stars or pretty good players that aren’t a part of NBA lore. Somebody please, show me that throwback Mehmet Okur Utah Jazz jersey. Dust off that old David Lee jersey, Knicks fans — you’ve got nothing to lose. Better yet, rep a bench player and school these young ’21s. When people ask, “Who’s that?” hit them with the casual, “Oh Quincy Acy? He’s a pretty good player — six-year vet, puts up five points a game for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s strong off the bench and a solid energy guy. I just see a lot of myself in him, really.” 

What’s worse, if I had to Google those Quincy Acy facts or if I didn’t?