By Andrew Gilstrap
As you may have seen on the About the Author page, some of the inspiration for this blog comes from a Los Angeles busboy named Ricardo Reyes. Heck, some of my interest in arcade basketball was rekindled by watching “Ricardo the Busboy” take on NBA stars on national television. Reyes buses tables at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood. Word spread quickly of Reyes’ Pop-A-Shot skills, and he worked his way up to being featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live! during the 2010 NBA playoffs. On June 3, 2010, the humble Reyes made his on-air debut against superstar Lebron James. I’ll let the video tell the story:
After slaughtering James by 30 points in the event, Reyes moved himself into prime position for repeat visits to Kimmel’s show. News about this ordinary civilian beating James in a basketball contest quickly flooded mainstream sports news outlets. Ricardo would come back soon after to face — and beat — Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant and more. Here is a particularly funny match against the Lakers’ Lamar Odom. Listen for Kimmel’s commentary:
As you’re starting to see, none of the NBA stars really came close to threatening Ricardo’s scores. Kimmel jazzed up the events further and further as Reyes defended his title; legendary announcer Marv Albert even introduced Reyes and his challenger each time. Fans quickly turned from rooting for the NBA stars to cheering on the 5 foot 7 inch underdog. Reyes closed out the 2010 season by besting Carmelo Anthony, and Kimmel rewarded Reyes with a brand new, red Ford Mustang. Take a look:
We didn’t hear much from Reyes during the winter, although he showed up on Kimmel Live! once again during a spoof clip against trick-shot basketball crew Dude Perfect. When the 2011 NBA Finals rolled around, Reyes was asked back to Kimmel Live! to defend his title against more NBA stars. Reyes made two appearances on Kimmel’s show during the 2011 Finals; he faced the Celtics’ Glen Davis and emerging star Blake Griffin. This time, Reyes played blindfolded, and he was treated as a household name: He had his own mascot on the show and each member of the audience had a mask of his face. Griffin, normally not known for his shooting touch, gave Reyes a run for his money, but the busboy won in the clutch, blinded and all. I find it hilarious that he keeps his blindfold on, even after the game ends. Here is the exchange:
It’s all in the technique: Reyes’ rapid-fire release makes it tough for any professional player to beat him. Perhaps you’ve noticed that the NBA challengers take too long to get the shot out of their hands each time. Until a player comes along who can release much faster, Reyes is going to keep winning. (For my money, I’d like to see the Celtics’ Ray Allen face the busboy.) I, like Reyes, aim for speed over form in arcade basketball. Perhaps a showdown in Hollywood against the busboy should be in order. Nonetheless, I’m glad Reyes has been able to give this mini-game some national spotlight these last two seasons, and I hope Kimmel decides to bring him back for the 2012 playoffs — if they even happen at all.