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Funbag

We Must Give The NBA Finals A Better Name

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about nonstick pans, phones, being horny in church, McDonald’s, and more.

Before we get into the Funbag, a quick note: I’m on vacation next week. Your guest host will be newest Defector writer and species enthusiast Sabrina Imbler, who’ll almost certainly regret taking the job once they read your emails. Happens to even the best guest host. Nevertheless, Imbler is game for all of your queries, so send them over while I, overworked but appropriately paid, fuck off to a week of pleasure.

Time for your letters!

Matt:

Shouldn’t the NBA change the name of their championship round to something more exciting (and assuming they do so, what should the name be?) The Super Bowl, World Series, and Stanley Cup Finals have infinitely more interesting names and the banality of NBA Finals just makes the whole product less exciting. 

HELL FUCKING YES THEY SHOULD. Too many times in this space, I shoot down ideas amusingly but politely. Not this idea. I’m taking this one and running with it, dear Matt. The only reason anyone else out there likes “The NBA Finals” as a formal title is because it’s the only name for the NBA Finals that they’ve ever known. But it’s shit. It sounds like a placeholder title the NBA used while thinking of something cooler to call it, and then they never bothered to think of that cooler name. Lazy. Inexcusable. Pathetic.

When a big moment comes on the sports calendar, it should have a name that increases mindhype by a healthy 400 percent. The World Cup. The Stanley Cup. The Super Bowl. Hell In A Cell. The Masters. Those are cool names. Championship names. Meanwhile the NBA is over here like DURRRR WE DUNNO LET’S CALL IT THE NBA FINALS BECAUSE WE’RE THE NBA AND THIS IS THE FINAL THING. Why not paint the court white and slap big block letters on it that say BASKETBALL GAME. This is a not name worthy of Warriors-Celtics. It’s not even worthy of any of the SHITTY NBA Finals I’ve had to watch in my lifetime. Even the San Antonio Spurs are like, calling it The NBA Finals is kinda dry.

Now, normally this is the part where I go Joke Mode and suggest a bunch of half-serious replacement names—What about The Hooper Bowl lol?!—but there’s a time and place for that kinda shit. This is indeed the place, but this is NOT the time. I want this problem solved. So lemme earnestly think of a few alternates right now. You will probably hate some of these. You may even say, “Hey, I like the name NBA Finals! And Mark Jackson is a fabulous color man!” If that’s you, here’s a dunce cap and there’s a corner for you to sit in. Let the rest of us work this out.

  • The Last Jam
  • The Ball (as in, like, the party)
  • The Players Ball
  • The Golden Ball
  • The Naismith Cup
  • Last Ups
  • The Last Dance
  • Downtown
  • The Loving Cup
  • The Summer Seven
  • The World Hoop
  • The Summit
  • The Duel
  • The Final Flight
  • The Final Floor
  • The Closing Tip
  • The Midnight Series

OK, all of those are pretty shitty and sound like a primetime golf showdown between Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Rodgers. I only like one of them, and I’m not gonna tell you which one. But listen, I don’t work in marketing.

Drew, you worked in advertising for 10 years and you helped write the promotional copy for this very website.

THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT. The point is that there’s a great name out there for more market-savvy people to devise. It would take purists some getting used to, and it would almost certainly have a shitty brand sponsor suffixed to it (I will kill Jake from State Farm with my bare hands if I ever see him). But it would be proper. It would fit the occasion. “NBA Finals” only works right now because we haven’t tried something better. Same goes for you, College Football Playoff. You guys could’ve figured out SOMETHING, for fuck’s sake.

Alex:

Is it possible that a cold-weather dome team might one day intentionally make an indoor game cold if they’re confident it favors their team?

OK, back to shooting down ideas politely but amusingly. My own team has a door on their stadium which, come wintertime, would allow them to make the whole stadium the same temperature as a train station platform. Would I like them to do this on occasion, in order to fuck with the visiting team? Yes. Have they ever done this? No. Will they ever do it? No. This is because players don’t like playing in ass-freezing temperatures if they don’t have to.

I know Tom Brady is like, Actually I love playing in the cold! Gimme all the cold you got! but that’s a lie. Motherfucker moved to Tampa. Voluntarily. That wasn’t because he likes the people of Tampa. When guys like that tell you they love playing in the cold, it just means they’re willing to do it. I was willing to do it. I love watching football outside and I loved playing it outside. On grass. But when it was pouring rain, or it was 20 degrees out? Fuck no I didn’t love it. No one does.

I like to romanticize football weather as much as NFL Films does, but playing football in those conditions is a miserable, painful experience. Playing inside makes it feel like you’re in a gym class that’s being taken way too seriously, but no one on my team ever complained when the coaches moved practice there due to inclement weather. Football players aren’t THAT stupid. They know what sucks. Like when you bang your fingers against another dude’s helmet in the cold? Horrible. We all have business decisions to make.

Gary:

When I go to church, I look around the congregation and wonder to myself, “How many of these people had dirty, filthy, degrading sex last night?” Am I sick and doomed to Hell for these kind of thoughts in church?

No. That’s the best part of going to church, if you ask me. They’re always so solemn in church that you’re damn near incentivized to think only the grossest thoughts. My God, I can’t think about sex right now! In church! That would be way too DANGEROUS. I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I … man I would fuck the shit out of my girlfriend in a confessional booth if she was down for it.

Jon:

Would you take sneezing every thirty seconds for the rest of your life or constantly have the hiccups until you die? Because I’ve thought about this for years and I have no clue which I would take.

Am I still sneezing even when I’m trying to sleep, too? Fuck. Ruinous. I see no outcome in either instance that doesn’t result in me begging to be euthanized. And I love to sneeze, mind you. I put all of my dad energy into every sneeze now. The walls of the house groan from the pressure of the sound waves. Woodland creatures flee, as if they’ve sensed a coming earthquake. NASA’s radar flickers in and out for a moment. We’re talking a big fucking sneeze. This is how I mark my territory, but the reason I enjoy sneezing is specifically because I do it so infrequently. I have one or two sneezing jags a day during allergy season—or if I’ve eaten dark chocolate or anchovies, but not both of those things together—and that’s about it. Turn that into a constant parade of sneezing and I’d be essentially incapacitated for the rest of my life.

I think I just talked myself into the hiccup option. But holy shit that would SUCK. I get mad when I get hiccups and they won’t go away. Curse me with eternal hiccups and I’d surely morph into a serial killer. Is there a third option here, like my belly button turning into a juice tap?

Luke:

Am I the only who is supremely annoyed at the fact that we don’t have a better word for these mobile devices that everyone carries with them than “phone”? I never call anyone on my “phone,” and I know you don’t either. Help us.

Hear me out: Instead of calling them phones, we call them … The NBA Finals. AHA! There I go, doing the joke name thing. Love to be funny.

In all seriousness, I think that your definition of “phone,” like mine, comes from a time when phones were used only for talking. No one talks on their phones anymore, of course. Certainly not me. When my phone rings, I audibly curse out loud. I can’t believe some asshole has the nerve to want to talk to me on this phone. WHAT THE FUCK, MOM. But I still call it a “phone,” even if I don’t do the actual phoning part much. My kids also call their phones “phones,” but they don’t have the old context of telephones burdening them. Thus, the word “phone” means something different to them than it does to me. It doesn’t merely mean “a telephone,” and they’re under no obligation to think it should. The word “phone” now means an all-purpose mobile internet device. This is how language evolves. Definitions are not set in concrete. They change, just as society does. And that’s both natural and good.

That said, I’m ready for someone to invent a phone killer. Apple is more than happy to sit back and release a new iPhone every year because they don’t have to do anything more than that to keep the gravy train rolling. But I’m sick of these fucking things. Sick of other people staring at theirs. Sick of other people giving me dirty looks for staring at mine. This can’t be the end. There has to be something past this. I don’t know what that something is, because no one has given me $400 million in seed money to conceive and engineer it. I’m willing to listen to offers.

Meanwhile, some other brainiac out there surely has an idea for a floating internet screen, or smart contacts that don’t look like they display graphics from a 1982 sci-fi movie, or web-enabled mind implants. So where the fuck are these products? Why have I spent 15 goddamn years using a product whose only noticeable improvements over time have been restricted to battery life and how good the camera is? Doesn’t anyone in this world have some fucking VISION? I thought we’d have flying cars by now. Instead I live in world where phones are always the same and no one can find any baby formula. If we’re still using these things by the time I’m 70, I ain’t gonna be happy about it.

Dan:

My friends and I were recently discussing what we would eat at McDonald’s if you could only pick one item from the entire menu for the rest of your life. This question applied to anytime of day, so choosing a Big Mac would mean eating one for breakfast. My choice was a Sausage and Egg McMuffin. What would you pick?

The fries are such an obvious choice here I figured that Dan was gonna include a carve-out that said you can’t pick the fries. And I’ll eat fries for breakfast. I’ve ordered fries for breakfast at a diner. Many times. Never a regret.

That said, McDonald’s fries aren’t as good as they used to be, so I’m gonna go rogue and pick their hash brown. It’s a perfect food. Like a tater tot married an iPhone. You cannot improve upon the Mickey D’s hash brown. Whenever I order hash browns elsewhere, they don’t come close to matching it. I just end up annoyed at myself for ordering Other Hash Browns when I understood in advance that I was not eating in a McDonald’s. I could’ve ordered an extra side of bacon instead. That’s on me.

I wanna try the frozen hash browns at Trader Joe’s, which also come in an iPhone shape, but you need a deep fryer to really bring out the personality of this kind of product. Fuck, now I really want a McDonald’s hash brown.

HALFTIME!

Tom:

I switched to an electric toothbrush in the last few months that has an automatic two-minute timer. I try to make it to the end of that, which means trying different things to occupy my time. Usually that means popping on some song or throwing up a short YouTube video, maybe doing a few squats if my back is sore. But the other night, as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed I had a little rumble in my gut, and figured I was going to have to take care of this before going to bed. So, as long as I had to both brush my teeth and poop before the blissful respite of sleep, I figured I may as well knock them both out at the same time. So I ask you, was this a case of ruthless efficiency, or do I finally qualify as gross bachelor man?

Oh I brush my teeth on the can sometimes. Again, I regret nothing. I even eat on the can. I have been tempted, many times, to tweet out “Eating cheese on the toilet again” but somehow THAT is a bridge too far for me. But I have, indeed, eaten cheese while taking a dump (string cheese; not a full cheese-and-crackers affair), and I’ll probably do it again. I only do this pre-wipe. My hands are still pristine at this time. Judge not lest ye be judged. You can eat, drink, look at your phone, and even juggle while on the can. That’s your time to do with as you see fit.

On another note, I also own an electric toothbrush and have never, not once, brushed the full two minutes. My wife and children can go two minutes brushing with ease. I cannot. Those are the longest two minutes in my life. Time goes by faster waiting for something to cook inside a microwave. I can’t do it. And what’s the goddamn point of an electric toothbrush if I have to use it for two minutes? What kinda miracle technology is that? This thing should get my teeth wedding-cake white in 15 seconds or less. That’s vision. That’s what this world needs more than anything else right now.

I do admire Tom actually exercising to help pass those two minutes, though. That’s a level of dedication I have never shown in any phase of life, not even in raising my children.

Julia:

A few years ago, I was the window seat on an airplane row of three. Seated between me and another woman was a mountain of a man. The flight attendants could see we were all uncomfortable, so when a seat opened up they moved aisle lady to that one. My guy in the middle never moved over. I spent the whole flight trying to figure out how to ask him to move but I’m shy AF and talked myself out of it. I don’t get how he was so oblivious. Isn’t everyone constantly waiting for their chance for more space on an airplane?

They are. HOWEVER, if you’re like me, there’s a cumbersome process to sitting in your seat to begin with. I have to put my laptop bag under the seat, standing it straight up and lengthwise so that there’s room for each of my feet. I have to put a lumbar support behind my back. I have to get out my little charging cable for my phone, plus a book I never end up reading, plus my hearing aid charger, plus my laptop, plus any snacks I bought at the Hudson News. Once I have all that shit done, I’m settled. Moving seats is just enough of a pain in the ass that, especially on short flights, I sometimes can’t be bothered to do it. So maybe that’s what this guy was thinking about when he stayed cemented to the middle seat on Julia’s flight. Or he’s just an oblivious dickhead. Probably the latter.

I flew to San Francisco last month because I was on assignment for SFGate. No one else was sitting in my row for that flight to SFO. Every flyer’s dream. I didn’t lie across the row, because it was midday and I wasn’t tired. But I did leave my shit all over the seat next to me, like I had already checked into my hotel room. Then, halfway through the flight, another dude asked to sit in the window seat of my row. MY row. In my brain, I was like, “How dare he. Can’t he see I own this row? And why didn’t he butt in here right after takeoff?” But I didn’t say any of that. I let him sit, and then we used the middle seat tray as a coffee table for all of our drinks and shit. No better way to fly.

Mike:

When my wife and I got married almost 4 years ago, we put a lot of stuff on our registry that we felt we had, especially fancy & expensive stuff that we knew we’d never be able to afford on our own (like you’re supposed to do, right?). One big item that made us feel like we were becoming real adults was a full set of fancy cookware. As both of us grew up solely using non-stick cookware, the learning curve has been steep. I can’t cook bacon without smoking out the entire house, I can’t cook eggs without the entire pan getting coated in a layer of egg stuck to it. How do I fix this? As a Chopped champion and thus, the resident Funbag Culinary Expert, do I just say screw it and pick up a non-stick?

Yup. We got nice All Clad pans too when we got married and every goddamn thing in the world stuck to them. I’m sure this is a failure of cooking on my part. Either I kept the heat too low or I failed to use a stick of butter for everything I cooked. But I’m gonna blame the cookware for some of that. You shouldn’t need a doctorate from the CIA to use these pans correctly. So I don’t use them anymore. I’m nonstick for life now. I don’t give a fuck if people look down on me for it. If pedantry is the cost of me being able to fry an egg quickly and easily, so be it. The rest of you can spend eight hours a day scrubbing your pans clean. I got better shit to do.

Lucas:

You mentioned in the 6/7 Funbag that you used to run a lot and loved it. Since I’m in my 30s now and enjoy eating terribly unhealthy food, I want to start running and get in better shape in general. What advice would you give to someone who can barely get to the end of the block to start running consistently?

Give yourself rules and stick to them. When I started running, I told myself I would run five miles a day or for 45 minutes if I couldn’t keep track of my distance. Five days a week. I can’t tell you why I chose that distance requirement. Five miles just seemed like a good amount, enough to make a dent in my weight. The first run was hard. The second one wasn’t much easier. Then, over time, I got into the routine and it became less burdensome. Both my mind and my body eventually adapted to the workout (running, logically, gets easier the lighter and stronger you become). But that never would have happened if I had deviated from the rules I set for myself. If I had said, “You know what? I’ll just run one mile today,” I would’ve fallen off the wagon. I had to be a hardass to myself. It was the only way. Even though no one ordered me to run five miles daily, my mind eventually treated it as if they had. I had to do my run, no matter the circumstances and even if it sucked ass.

So my advice to you would be to do the same. Pick a running routine—either at random or with a bit of research—and then commit to it. Write it down if you have to. Mark it off on a calendar or some shit. Good things happen when you make rules for yourself and then honor them.

Connor:

This question has been brewing within me after years of reading Drew do the Funbag. He always talks about dicking around with his phone at every possible moment, mentioning at several points that this is a totally normal thing to do. As someone who is young enough to have grown up with phones but still only uses them for directions, phone calls, and when I need to do something and don’t have access to a computer, I don’t understand this. What do you actually DO with it? Why do you want to be on it all the time? Unless my phone alerts me of something, I don’t even give it a second glance. Am I the crazy one in this?

You’re veering very close to “I don’t even OWN a television!” territory with this question, but I’m probably the pedantic one if I’m dumping on someone for having phone habits so healthy that they’re probably a lie. Anyway, let me take Connor’s questions one at a time.

What do you actually DO with it?

I check my email, then I check Defector Slack, and then I play Scrabble. Repeat into infinity. Mostly, I play Scrabble. I used to refresh Twitter over and over, too. Then I took Twitter off of my phone, which in theory should have resulted in me using my phone far less than I did when I had Twitter on it. Nope. I filled that time gap instantly with Scrabble, plus the occasional escape room game.

Why do you want to be on it all the time?

So I don’t have to talk to people in real life. Duh. I have lived in the same place for nearly two decades now and, outside of my wife and kids, I have no super close friends in my immediate vicinity. My phone habit almost certainly plays in the role in that. Your phone shouldn’t be your best friend and yet, here I am. I have work to do. When they finally invent the hoverphone, things’ll be different, I tell you.

Am I the crazy one in this?

No you’re the sane one. Frankly it’s kind of annoying.

Email of the week!

Frank:

The Woolsey Fire of 2018 burned up a whole bunch of land in and around Malibu (you may remember a bunch of celebrities having to evacuate and haul their horses to Zuma Beach and whatnot). At that time, I was living on the outskirts of Calabasas, in the guest apartment of this big house right at the base of the Santa Monica mountains. The fire came close to where I lived, but fortunately never jumped Malibu Canyon. For two weeks though, water pressure where I lived was next to nothing because all the water was being used to fight the fire, which meant our toilets would barely flush at all. Within a couple days, my john looked worse than the one Ewan McGregor climbed out of in Trainspotting.

To make matters worse, I couldn’t leave the house for a solid week, because all the roads in that area were closed. The good news was I had plenty of food stocked up in my apartment. The less-good news was it was mostly cheese and cold cuts. I survived on a diet of eggs, grilled cheese, and turkey sandwiches for the entire week, and you can probably imagine how it brought my digestive system to a grinding halt. By day four, I felt like I had a stomach full of cement. No amount of sphincter-clinching was making it budge.

So after a day or two of this, I took matters into my own hands, literally. I put a plastic sandwich baggie over my hand, squatted over my atrocity of a toilet, and started digging these rock-hard turdlets the size of ping pong balls out of my asshole. There’s just no dignified way to do that. Even with no witnesses, it was easily one of the top-three most humiliating moments of my life.

A few days later the roads opened up and I could finally introduce some fiber back into my diet, and the water pressure returned too, but by that point my toilet was too choked with crap to flush. The family whose property I was living on had two little kids, so I swiped a little plastic shovel out of their toybox, dug as much shit out of the commode as I could, and put it in a garbage bag. The garbage bag went in the dumpster and the shovel I just flung into the ravine behind the house. As far as I know, neither of the kids ever noticed anything was missing, but if anyone ever finds that shit-caked pink shovel at the bottom of the ravine, some weird questions are probably gonna get asked.

I may have a few of my own.