The World Cup may be going on right now, but true junkies of both sports and politics knew where the real action was this weekend: Texas Southern University in Houston.
That’s where the first (and probably last) Blobfish Basketball Classic was taking place between Ted Cruz (the senator liberals hate) and late-night comic Jimmy Kimmel. The name was derived from Kimmel’s derisive moniker for the Texas Republican. Unfortunately for him, it was the Blobfish that ended up on top.
And, wouldn’t you know it, Kimmel wasn’t exactly the best of sports about it.
First, the background: Kimmel, whose show is a clearinghouse for shopworn Republican jokes, poked fun at Sen. Cruz’s appearance at Game Seven of the NBA’s Western Conference finals in Houston, where the hometown Rockets lost.
“Can you be embarrassed by a picture of someone else’s dad? Because I am,” Kimmel said at the time, according to The Hill. “When Ted arrived at the Toyota Center, some of the fans mistakenly thought it was Grandpa Munster Bobblehead Night. I mean, look at him. He looks, and I’m not joking here, he looks like a blobfish.”
This is wonderful stuff from a man who looks like a garden gnome that’s undergone gastric bypass surgery. Anyway, Cruz hit back with a challenge to play a one-on-one game, with the loser paying $5,000 to the non-political charity of the winner’s choice. After a bit of back-and-forth, Kimmel finally reached terms and the game was on.
.@jimmykimmel All right, Big Guy…you talk a good game. You besmirched my support for the @HoustonRockets 🤨 So let’s settle this man-to-man: one-on-one, hoops (or “ring-ball,” if you prefer). The loser gives $5k to the (non-political) charity of the winner’s choice. https://t.co/BWvAP5VOtM
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 31, 2018
Kimmel, a notorious bigmouth, seemed to do most of the smack-talking while Cruz took a bit of a self-deprecating angle, as evinced by these tweets.
— Jimmy Kimmel Live (@JimmyKimmelLive) June 16, 2018
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 14, 2018
The big game was on Saturday, and it drew a surprising amount of attention, with thousands in attendance at Texas Southern.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 16, 2018
What they saw, however, may not have been the best display of hoops prowess we’ve ever seen.
“It took nearly two hours, dozens of air balls and rim shots, a few rounds of political trash talk, and one desperately needed reduction in the score required to win — but they did it,” the Texas Tribune reported.
Yes, even though they were supposed to play to 15, their inability to get that far led to a joint decision to reduce the number to 11. Cruz ended up winning 11-9.
And that’s when Kimmel decided to go full Kimmel, as a Texas Tribune reporter noted:
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) June 17, 2018
Stay classy, Jimmy.
I suppose I would be more worried, were I Cruz, if Kimmel was praising my senatorial acumen, but did Kimmel really have to say anything? What did this prove other than the fact that Jimmy Kimmel is an unmitigated jerk?
After the game, Kimmel also decided to tell one of Cruz’s daughters, “You got to see your daddy win something.” Because apparently, not enough members of the Cruz family thought Kimmel’s behavior was contemptible.
Cruz, meanwhile, seemed to be more sporting. Not only did he endure chants from the audience supporting his opponent in this fall’s midterm, but he also decided he would give $5,000 to Kimmel’s charity — Texas Children’s Hospital — even though he won. Kimmel will be giving his $5,000 to Generation One Texas, a poverty-fighting organization picked out by Cruz.
The game will air on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Monday — although presumably not in its two-hour form, which must be akin to trying to watch all 15 hours of Fassbinder’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz” in one sitting. Given the quality of play, Kimmel told the crowd he would like to “apologize to the game of basketball.”
I think his apology should probably go elsewhere.