Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rafael Araujo: Scrub of the Year

The accolades keep pouring in this time of the year: coach of the year, rookie of the year, the MVP I wrote about earlier this week. But doesn't it seem as if we're forgetting something? Playoff basketball is packed with intensity and drama, and everyone plays as if each play could be their last. But you know what else gets ratcheted up a few notches as well? Towel-waving.

Yeah. By now, if you're a bench player, you better be well-versed in your role. When coach draws up a play during a timeout, you better be watching that chick on a unicycle catching plates on her head. You better be ready to tap Kobe on his ass or make an 0-face in the aftermath of a clutch three-pointer. If you're not used to drinking Gatorade in your warm-ups by the playoffs, you might never be.

Scrubs are the glue that hold the NBA together. Believe me, if they weren't there, you'd miss them. You can laugh all you want at them, but they make at least $412, 718 a year and you can't measure hustle.

With that in mind, it's my pleasure to introduce to you the Matt Bullard Memorial NBA Scrub of the Year to Rafael Araujo of the Utah Jazz.

One of a scrub's many responsibilities is reminding players how much money they owe Carlos Boozer from the blackjack game on the plane. Look at how Raf calmly yet assertively informs Troy Rolle he should have doubled down.

You might have noticed Raf pacing the sidelines, never unsnapping his pants. He has the following keys to bench-warming success:

A. Foreign
It definitely adds to the uncomfortable, puzzled aura you have to be able to emanate as a scrub if you're from somewhere like Sao Paulo, as Raf is. I have an over-active imagination, and I'm going to have to imagine you doing weird "Who wants to sex Mutombo"-type stuff when you're not playing. You know, the whole Dwayne Schnitzius in Eddie thing. (Drink it in. That's the last time I'll ever reference a 1995 Whoopi Goldberg movie that isn't The Associate.) Anyway, foreigners make for more awkward NBA players, and being more awkward makes you a better scrub.

B. Background
To be a standout scrub, you need to have an unremarkable resume. This isn't going to work if you used to be good and have just gotten old, or if I remember you playing in college and you just never panned out. You have to have never really achieved anything. It helps if you went to a school that isn't on my radar (coming in straight from high school is even better). And lookie-lookie, Raf played in the Mountain West. I actually remember him getting drafted eighth for no reason in 2004. Even he looked shocked. The card companies seem to have pounced on someone worthless being drafted in the top-ten though. There's nothing quite like pulling an Upper Deck Star Rookie, hoping it's Chris Paul, and then staring Araujo in his dipshit face. Trust me.

C. Playing Time
Call it a paradox, but it's no fun if a scrub absolutely never gets off the bench. I don't want him actually contributing, but I'd say two or three minutes of action per game is perfect. That way, it's an event when you see him go in, you get to ridicule/cheer for him, and you still get to watch a good contest--because if he got more than two or three minutes, that means it's a blowout.

I've been waiting for a long time to try the widgets. Araujo makes dreams come true.

D. The Look

The lankier the better, but you also need to have something bizarre going on with your personal appearance, a hook. You want to be able to maximize your time on TV, so if you can make me go, "Hey, does that dude sitting next to Jack Nicholson have braces?" it's definitely a good look. Take a gander at Raf arriving for game three against the Rockets:

Not only does dude sport the aforementioned braces, he stepped his game up this year by adding a faux-hawk for maximum European dandyism and double-take potential. And tattoos of Chinese characters are just gravy.

E. Intangibles

A good scrub morphs into a great scrub when further research can provide tantalizing nuggets of trivia. Did you know that Raf was part of a steroid probe during the 2002 World Championships? He was banned from international play for twenty-four months. Since the NBA doesn't test for steroids (since basketball players wouldn't really benefit from them), he could be hopped up on nandrolone for all we know.

On March 9, 2004, Raf punched a UNLV player and was placed on probation and issued a reprimand for his actions.

Apparently, "Araujo" either means something dirty in Spanish or is the name of a particular Hispanic porn star, because when you pace a Google image search for that term, a bunch of weird stuff comes up.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Scrub of the Year:

Hint: he's the guy who terrabulls the dunk.

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