By Andrew Gilstrap
ABC again ran half-hour Jimmy Kimmel Game Night specials revolving around each game of the NBA Finals. If you’re on the East Coast, you’d see the episodes before the Finals game; if on the West Coast, you could catch the Kimmel special after the game.
Since the Finals went seven games this year, Kimmel had the same number of Game Night episodes; and these were on top of his Jimmy Kimmel Live! late night show. The days of pitting NBA stars against Ricardo “the Busboy” Reyes appear to be long gone. Last year, Kimmel had the featured celebrity of each episode shoot a three-pointer to win prizes for the audience. This year, for most of the specials, Kimmel brought in a 2-year-old trick shot artist named Titus to compete against NBA players. You may be familiar with Titus from a viral video from earlier last year. Kimmel humorously called each contest “Clash of the Titus” as the toddler squared off against the pros.
Titus squared off against Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant (see above), Metta World Peace (see below) and Jason Collins over four Game Night episodes. The rim heights were set at the same heights as the players; Titus shot on a 3-foot-high rim. The NBA players shot from 18 feet and Titus shot from six. Each contestant got 30 seconds to shoot.
Bryant and Artest were the only ones who put up much of a fight. Titus won three out of four contests and tied the one with Bryant. Shaq didn’t even make a single shot during his turn. Titus certainly had his form down, and would get on a roll in some of the games.
The episodes accompanying Games 6 and 7 did not have a basketball contest at the end (maybe Kimmel ran out of his lineup of competitors). The other basketball contest saw the guys of “Grown Ups 2” shooting threes for prizes for the audience. I’d show you the video of that, but their attempts were pretty sad; all four missed their shot…and then even missed a few practice shots after the contest was over.
Elsewhere in the episodes, Kimmel had skits such as basketball players reading angry fan tweets, a children’s choir singing tweets from NBA players, scavenger hunts over Skype (my favorite featuring Bill Walton and James Worthy) and other skits involving the headlining guest of each episode. There was a hilarious song between Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx (which already has topped 3 million views on YouTube), while Will Smith and Jack Black indulged in the basketball spirit for their respective skits — both being moderately funny. The guests of each episode didn’t talk much basketball, but looking back, the guests on these specials in previous years mostly did not do so either.
I know I’m partial to Ricardo and Pop-A-Shot, but the “Titus” competitions, while cute, got a little stale before long. It didn’t appear any of the NBA players were trying hard against him. I can understand they were going up against a kid, but at least with Ricardo a couple years ago, you felt like the players were actually competing and had some pride on the line…and Ricardo smoked them all with ungodly high scores.
I wonder what the Busboy is doing nowadays. Although it appears Kimmel may never bring him back on again, the competitions his show has had the last couple seasons pale in comparison to the spectacle Ricardo used to provide. Instead of arcade basketball, we saw mini basketball this year (which is sometime synonymous, but not in this case). What will we see next year?