Minutes before the start of playoff game Game 3 between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center tonight, the arena goes dark.
Nikola “The Joker” Jokic and his teammates sit on their bench ready to win this game and extinguish championship hopes for the Lakers on their home court, all but assuring the first NBA Finals for the Denver franchise.
But amid the darkness, Jokic notices directly behind his team’s bench a maniacal-looking man with his face painted notepaper white in a Batman outfit (see photo).
It’s Jack Nicholson, a long-time Lakers fan, dressed up as the Joker grinning in a way that amuses and disturbs.
“Hey Joker,” Hollywood Nick barks. “Got something for ya.”
The Serbian Joker finds this scene rather amusing so he obliges. Hollywood Joker reaches out his hand to shake it.
“Good luck tonight.”
During the handshake, the Serbian Joker feels a sudden jolt in his hand. Then he feels water spraying on his face.
Hollywood Joker, a Lakers fan these past forty years, went to his old bag of tricks to hex the world’s best player before Game 3. Like the Joker in the “Batman” TV series in the 1970s, Hollywood Joker brought a hand buzzer vibration gadget for the handshake and a squirting flower from the cheesy boutonniere on his outlandish Joker outfit.
Good joke thought Joker the Player. Now let’s get to the game.
But the jokes were far from over.
Walking to center court for the opening tip, Joker notices all referees dressed in the same Joker outfits as Hollywood Joker. So is LeBron but in shorts instead of long pants. “That’s all pretty weird,” he says. “We don’t do this kind of stuff in Serbia.”
He looks up into the crowd and sees an oceanic-size mass of Jokers, all 18,977 of them in the same outfits worn by Hollywood Joker. A haunting Hitchkockian movie masterpiece this is coalescing into.
The Serbian Joker then sees this Joker prank is no joke at all: The Ball boys are all jokers too. And the coach of the Lakers. And the security guards.
All Jokers. In the same outfits.
“Ever see ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest?” Hollywood Joker shouts at Serbian Joker at center court. “I’m that guy, the one who got the electroshock treatment. Hope you like my electroshock handshake. Good luck in the game, giggle guffaw haha. And one other thing. You’re not the real Joker. We are. The joke’s on you.”
The joke wasn’t nearly over. Suddenly, a deafening noise rattles the Serbian Joker’s brain. Every single one of the 18,977 fans smuggled in a laughing box to the game and they all pulled the gadget strings simultaneously. Laughing boxes blare causing the Serbia Joker to have to plug his ears along with the refs and LeBron.
“Damn that’s loud,” says LeBron. “Funny but loud.”
“Too loud for you?” barks Hollywood Joker. “What’s wrong? We’re just a bunch of Jokers. Laugh it off. You get all this. You’re the Joker. This is just a silly basketball game. Nothing big on the line except an NBA championship. Don’t take us seriously. A joker is just a joker, right?”
Nuggets coach Mike Malone is apoplectic from all that has transpired in the past few minutes and not at all amused by the laughing boxes. He complains to the refs that LeBron can’t play in a Joker costume.
“The league rules stipulate that all players on the same team have to wear the same uniform.”
“Coach, look at what we’re wearing,” says one ref. “Do we look like we’re gonna stop any player tonight from wearing a Joker outfit? We’re dressed as jokers. That should tell you something.”
The laughing boxes continue to haunt the sensibilities of everyone in the arena. It’s fine to laugh once in a while but this is too much laughing. This is no longer The Staples Center. It’s a House of Jokers. Laughing boxes won’t shut up.
How can the Denver Nuggets and their leader, the Serbian Joker, win a game in these haunting and absurd conditions? How can the players communicate on defense above the laughing box sound and fury? No one has ever played basketball in front of 18,977 fans all dressed as jokers. It doesn’t feel appropriate.
“This Lakers team and the entire urban sprawl of Los Angeles County is doing everything it can to stop me from winning this Western Conference Series,” the Serbian Joker thinks to himself. “First they called me The Monster of the Rocky Mountains. Now they’re calling me the Serbian Joker. And this whole arena is packed with Jokers. This is a stupid joke. We don’t do this in Serbia. What’s wrong with Americans? I guess I’m going to have to play like a monster tonight and scare away all these silly Jokers.”
He scurries into the locker room. Five minutes later, he enters through the tunnel onto the court wearing the same Joker outfit everyone else in the stadium is wearing. He goes to the PA announcer’s table and grabs the microphone.
“Turn up the volume on those laughing boxes,” he says. “It’s not loud enough in here. We need more laughter. Because the Joker’s on you tonight.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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