We’re on to the conclusion of my basketball movie 2-on-2 bracket (albeit a month and a half after part one). Let’s skip the song and dance and get on with the show.
1-seed Michael Jordan and Lola Bunny (“Space Jam”) vs. 8-seed Jackie Moon and Clarence “Downtown” “Coffee Black” Withers (“Semi-Pro”)
The Tropics are certainly more competitive than Josh Framm and Air Bud were. However, it doesn’t really matter who is guarding who here. Neither Withers nor Moon can stifle Jordan, and on the other end Jordan is a lockdown defender, while Lola’s got the hops (get it? bunny hops) to protect the rim against both of the ABA-ers. Gotta give this one to the Tune Squad, but Jackie and Clarence don’t go down without a fight (literally, Jackie will try to brawl with Jordan and get punched everywhere from the armpit to the jejunum).
2-seed Calvin Cambridge and Tracy Reynolds (“Like Mike”) vs. 7-seed Uncle Drew and Big Fella (“Uncle Drew”)
It’s a young gun and his soon-to-be adoptive father against a couple of senior citizens. Honestly, if this were Kyrie Irving and Shaq against Cambridge and Reynolds, I’d go with the former duo. However, you have to factor in their age when it comes to this matchup. Sure, Big Fella could still dominate the paint, but despite the massive height differential (4-foot-8 Cambridge against 7-foot-1 Big Fella) Cambridge can still use Jordan’s skill to get his shot off down low. Uncle Drew can cook either of the LA Knights off the dribble, but he’s not as consistent on the defensive side. Ultimately the youth wins out as father time catches up with Drew and Big Fella. LA Knights advance to the semifinals.
3-seed Bobby Joe Hill and David Lattin (“Glory Road”) vs. 11-seed Kyle Lee Watson and Thomas “Shep” Sheppard (“Above the Rim”)
It’s a tough one here because we’re comparing across eras. Even so, there are similarities between Hill and Watson, as seen in the former’s athleticism-heavy playing style, which was progressive in the ‘60s. However, we run into trouble with Sheppard trying to handle Lattin. Shep’s khakis start to take on a toll on him here, as well as his age. He just can’t match the stamina and strength of Lattin, and Watson doesn’t have a prayer down low against Big Daddy D either. Miners take it.
4-seed Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane (“White Men Can’t Jump”) vs. 12-seed Troy Bolton and Chad Danforth (“High School Musical 3”)
A little more “Ebony and Ivory” action here. I wanna give a little credit to the East High boys for making it here, even though it was by disqualification of their first-round opponent. That said, the street hustlers take it. Hoyle and Deane are still clicking on all cylinders, and they each bring something to the table (three-point shooting and ball handling wizardry, respectively) to go along with an edge to their games that the opposition doesn’t have. Let’s be real, Cal and Arizona aren’t getting much from Bolton and Danforth other than some decent singing chops. (Who am I kidding, better than decent; who doesn’t get down to all three HSM soundtracks?)
1-seed Michael Jordan and Lola Bunny vs. 4-seed Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane
It’s sad to see the run come to an end for Hoyle and Deane, but it has to at this point. Their relationship has wound tighter and tighter, and it reaches a fever pitch as they start melting down against stiff competition. It would be interesting to see how Jordan’s self-described “competition problem” (NOT a gambling problem) would impact him wagering on this pointless tournament against two street hustlers. In any case, the Toon Squad takes it, but I’ll give Hoyle one two-handed slam just to show that white men can in fact jump.
2-seed Calvin Cambridge and Tracy Reynolds vs. 3-seed Bobby Joe Hill and David Lattin
It’s been mostly chalk throughout this entire tournament, but the buck (and chalk) stops here. As much as I would love to see Jordan go against someone with his skill-laced sneakers (I guess Spike Lee was right that it really had to be the shoes), it just isn’t fated to be. Reynolds puts up a fight, but Hill and Lattin both have far fewer miles on them and a bit more athleticism. However, the real kicker (no pun intended) is that Cambridge’s kicks rip. Sorry to break it to you, kid, but you can’t just coast by on someone else’s abilities your entire career, or even for the entirety of this tournament. Miners advance to the championship.
1-seed Michael Jordan and Lola Bunny vs. 3-seed Bobby Joe Hill and David Lattin
Well, we’ve finally reached the final showdown. It’s Hill and Lattin against MJ and Bunny. I will say, while they aren’t intergalactic amusement park employees, Hill and Lattin are the closest thing to the Monstars that Jordan and Co. have had to face (they took on Air Bud and Will Ferrell in the first two rounds for crying out loud).
The thing here is that we’re playing half court, which means each team gets an advantage. MJ (circa 1996 and still rusty after a baseball stint) operates best in isolation as opposed to the open court, and he presents a matchup nightmare for both of the Miners with his combination of size and speed. By the same token, Lattin is going to benefit from the half-court game as a power post, and Jordan historically struggled against teams with a quality big man (OK, Olajuwon and the Rockets were pretty much it, but the Knicks/Ewing and Orlando/Shaq did give him some trouble).
It kills me inside to pick between these two teams, but I’m going to go with the Tune Squad. Lattin gets physical down the stretch and ends up knocking Lola out of the contest. As MJ looks around for a sub, suddenly Bill Murray shows up in the clutch. He explains that he knows the producer (in this case, me) and manages to stop the bleeding just enough to dish Jordan the game-winning dime as he rises and jams one-handed over Lattin and Hill for the game-winning deuce (well, technical not a deuce since it’s ones and twos to 21, but you get the idea).
There you have it. MJ walks away from tonight with six championship rings, six Finals MVPs, two gold medals, an Emmy for “The Last Dance” and — perhaps most impressively — one basketball movie 2-on-2 fantasy bracket championship. He had something to prove, and he proved it, but don’t disrespect Lola Bunny or Bill Murray for their contributions (but you can omit what the latter contributed in “Garfield”).
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.