Last night, the Los Angeles Lakers put a prodigious beatdown on the Dallas Mavericks, winning by a final tally of 110-82. While the game was an impressive display on the part of the defending champs, the result played second fiddle to the raucous events that went down in the 4th quarter. With 9:22 left in the game, Steve Blake drove the lane and was fouled by Jason Terry, who proceeded to help Blake find the courtside photographers with a two-handed shove in the back. Blake (rightfully) took offense, and got in Terry's face. As the two were quickly separated by one of the refs on hand, Matt Barnes flew in to deliver a healthy shove of his own to Terry. The rest of both teams, all three refs, and the Dallas coaching staff (this all went down on their side of the court) intervened to avoid any further shenanigans. Terry, Blake, and Barnes were all ejected from the game, as was Brendan Haywood because he was ... I don't know, too tall. Then, with tensions already high and the refs at Defcon 4, Shannon Brown decided to take exception to an overly hard foul on Pau Gasol with 1:52 left in the contest, delivering a shove to fouler Brian Cardinal, earning himself the opportunity to join his benchmates in the locker room ahead of schedule. It was quite the nightcap for a contest that was losing interest fast, but its hardly the first NBA dustup to go down. There may be a couple lingering suspensions, but that's where the story ends. Or does it?
You may not know this, but Blake, Barnes and Brown have themselves a nickname as the core of the Los Angeles Lakers' bench. They are called the Killer B's. Despite all my best efforts to have them branded as something that is slightly more original, the nickname took roughly 2 seconds to latch on in the preseason, and it's caught on like wildfire. The name is so popular, they've even got t-shirts, set up through Matt Barnes' clothing company Elusion Clothing. Guess when those T-shirts became available for public purchase?
Let me get this straight. Three members of the Los Angeles Lakers, nicknamed the Killer Bees no less, all get ejected from a basketball game for a combination of standing up for themselves or their teammates, and less than two hours later, Matt Barnes unveils that Killah Bees shirts will be available on his website within the hour? You really want to tell me that's a coincidence? Oh sure, it would be tough to imagine that Steve Blake knew he was going to be the target of a cheap shot (unless JET is in on it ... CONSPIRACY), and his reaction is hardly surprising. Nor is it all that surprising that Barnes jumped into the frey, as he's not exactly known to be a bastion of self control either. But take another look at Brown's ejection and tell me he didn't know exactly what he was doing. You can almost see his thought process, initially just standing there before realizing his opportunity. That the shirt was unveiled to the public at midnight of April Fool's Day is just the icing on this cake of awesomeness.
Athletes have long tried to be on the cutting edge of marketing their products. Michael Jordan created a brand in ways that no other athlete before (or since) could even dream of. Kobe Bryant has recently turned to viral marketing to give him that extra edge in pushing his product, and he's been followed by others like Kevin Durant. Ron Artest has used his role as part of a champion to kickstart a music career, just as Shaq did over a decade ago. Hell, Lamar Odom married a reality television star (but seriously though, it was for love). Still, does any of this match the sheer brilliance of a trio of guys getting kicked out of a game on the eve of the launch of a t-shirt that dubs them the Killer Bees? It could only be topped if Charlie Sheen had chosen to launch his own brand of cocaine on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Somebody needs to give that marketing manager a raise.
How much attention does Matt Barnes get via twitter on a normal night? How much attention did his tweet get tonight? How much more affection does Laker Nation have for the B's after their displays of team solidarity and "Don't fuck with us" attitude? I think about the answers to all these questions and I'm left with one simple thought.
That. Was. Fucking. Brilliant.