In a few short days, the inaugural season of AbtNet office chair basketball culminates in what is shaping up to be an epic matchup between the Flying Squirrels (4-1) and Hearts & Unicorns (3-2). Both teams come into the finals after steamrolling their competition in the semifinals, leaving a trail of overly gummy wolverines and robot parts in their wakes. Friday September 9th will see just one champion emerge, but it’s time now to meet the final contestants and pay tribute to the four players who have come so far in the short history of the sport.
**Disclaimer: None of the finals players responded to the Commissioner’s request for bios for this piece, so the biographical information that follows may be less than accurate**
First we meet the two players for the league’s upstart squad, Hearts & Unicorns, starting with power forward and captain, Katie “Rajon” Gan. (Technical note: each player has a theme song for their background piece, and Katie’s is the abtly chosen, “She’s a Little Runaway” by Bon Jovi, which can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s86K-p089R8. The thought was you could start the background music in another browser window and then click back to read the piece — but you might not want to miss the video to this one… it’s a pretty priceless window into a year before many of you, fair readers, were born, and when your young Commissioner was trying to learn how to stand up on his skateboard.)
Katie “Rajon” Gan was born in Shiloh, Mississippi, the daughter of a social maven and a rocket scientist, and soon followed both of their paths to become a social scientist. She eschewed sports in high school, choosing instead such extracurricular activities as rocketry and glee club. It wasn’t until her post graduate work when she began to perfect her jumpshot, tossing crumpled papers from drafts of her dissertation into a waste paper basket across the room. These skills remained latent until a new sport emerged last fall at Abt Associates. Katie was at first drawn by the idea of remaining seated in a comfortable chair while playing, and later she became obsessed with designing team logos and emoticons. Gan led her team to a 5-0 shutout of the Squirrels during the regular season, in a game where she owned the court… as if there was no one else on the court. As in, there actually was no one else on the court, due to a scheduling and communications mixup. Nevertheless, she has established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the low post during the playoffs, and she has promised to win this game for her favorite charity: Blinds for the Blind.
Rounding out the Hearts & Unicorns squad is Randall “Butterfly” Juras (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzldLJcorbo). Son of a chicken farmer, Randall spent much of his childhood trying to reconcile his love for animals with his love for his family and the factory farm they owned. He recalls a staring contest with a rooster as the moment he first glimpsed the meaning of Keynesian economics in all its import and glory — his vision only interrupted by the untimely cockadoodle-doo of his suddenly uncomfortable companion. Randall did what few do who grow up in Stayput, West Virginia: he left. A wondrous academic career in the Ivy League landed him at Abt Associates as chief economist of lower Siberia, where he teamed up with Gan on the now legendary and feared Hearts & Unicorns squad. He’s dedicating the championship game on Friday to his old friend, the rooster, who is hopefully heralding sunrise after sunrise in the big chicken farm in the sky.
And now, let us meet the Flying Squirrels, starting with rookie sensation, Nathaniel “Dono Chance” Donaghue (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDnqn3mqiY&feature=fvst). Born on the hardscrabble streets of Concord, MA (by which I mean they play intense games of scrabble in the town square), young Nathaniel cut his teeth in the world delivering paper in bottles and tossing milk from his bike onto people’s front porches, sometimes sending it shattering through a front window. But what he may have lacked in basic coordination and understanding of primary job functions, he more than made up for with his charm, dashing good looks and derring-do. Voted “Most Likely to Marry Really, Really Well” by a high school class abnormally concerned with socioeconomic status, Dono Chance has expended a little social capital and let off more than a little steam on the AbtNet court, where he has earned a reputation as the league’s bad boy, racking up 14 flagrant fouls in five games and starting one brawl in the stands on “Family Night.” Dono Chance predicts “no chance” for the opponents in the championship game, and he’s dedicating his performance to Darth Vader, promising to give him back his lightsaber after Friday night.
Last but not least, we round out the Finals players with Squirrels captain, Arthur “Drexler” Smith, whose theme song, “Guilty,” is mere coincidence and in no way related to the still ongoing doping investigation that has dogged his squad for most of the season (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxMOByRYbsY&feature=fvwrel — this one is also worth watching for a bit, and wait for Barry Gibb to make an entrance halfway thru the song… if you’ve seen Jimmy Fallon spoof Barry Gibb on SNL, this is the real deal). Arthur, like his teammate, also hails from Concord, but whereas Nathaniel was popular with his classmates, Arthur was voted “Most Likely to Lead a MultiNational Corporation to Become the World’s Last Superpower.” Claiming to have little time and less need for friends, Arthur started the first political party on his college campus that actually prohibited membership beyond himself. He majored in Robber Barons and minored in Multicultural Studies, “for a laugh.” When not dominating on the stock exchange, Arthur directs the relentless Flying Squirrel attack. He led all scorers this season with 22 points and has said that the only thing more certain than a Squirrels’ win this Friday is China’s eventual hostile takeover of the U.S., which made this correspondent more than a little nervous — even more so because he made this prediction in Chinese.
These are your finals participants — may the best team win!