The quoted headline for this article – Phil Gould’s patented catch phrase for when Mark Gasnier puts on his (equally patented) in and away side-step – ignites an outrage in this writer’s membrane. Why? Because the only sound I can hear is my inner league fan screaming “overrated” at the top of his passionate little lungs.
Gasnier’s performance last Wednesday night in State of Origin 1 merely confirmed this for me. He of “four toey humans” fame struggled to make any impact, instead limiting his scintillating wing-partner, Akuila Uate by starving him of any quality ball, much like the cold-hearted Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist, who took relish in withholding boarding house rations from the book’s eponymous child hero. “Gaz” was cut down time and time again by a hungry and tireless QLD defence. His knock-on in the 79th minute effectively ended NSW’s hopes of winning the game and was simply the icing on the cake.
A substantial number of NSW fans appear to agree with me, with rugby league internet sites and forums inundated with posts calling for his head. One poster claimed that “the only reason Gasnier gets a look in, is his bloody name. If my surname was Gasnier then I’d be a bloody international too.”
Another post by ‘Sharkie4eva’ provided refreshing context with this comment: “Gasnier only looks good in a world class team like the Dragons, but he would struggle in a side like Cronulla, unlike our captain courageous Paul Gallen.” While ThePublicApology hastens to quote internet pseudonyms as a rule, these comments from frustrated fans do indicate that public sentiment has shifted dramatically against “Gaz” in the years since his explosive debut.
Grizzled rugby league stalwart Tommy Raudonikis has also weighed into the debate, lambasting Gasnier’s mentality in the past few seasons. “As soon as he pulled back on the schooners, that Gasnier has looked like a scared little schoolgirl out there on the field,” Raudonikis told ThePublicApology. “He’s lost his mongrel, he has.”
“Maybe a few more of those late night cab rides might actually do him some good. That sort of thing always helped back in the old days,” Raudonikis added, referring to the “Good Old Days” when one could drink unlimited schooners without attracting public scorn, or sexually harass women without fearing the wagging finger from feminist groups and media shock-jocks.
The Public Apology’s co-editor, Mike Davis, who broke the Gasnier cab scandal in 2004 after hiding a dictaphone in his pocket while disguising himself as Craig Wing during a NSW drinking session, said some punters believed Gasnier’s evolution from knockabout leaguey to mild mannered role model was “forced and unauthentic.” Davis was later heard making the same observation about a mildly spiced Tom Kha Gai he’d ordered to-go at Thai Times II in Newtown.
Perhaps this identity crisis is affecting Gasnier’s performance on the field? It is rumoured that Gasnier’s time in French Rugby Union infected him with the virus – found, peculiarly, solely within the species of rugby union players – of trying to appear urbane and intelligent despite possessing less brain cells than your average amoeba. A particularly aggressive strain of this same virus was responsible for Stirling Mortlock’s dramatic fall from grace after being appointed Wallabies Captain in 2006.
One thing is for sure: Gasnier will be one of the first picked by Ricky Stuart for Game II. That famous name still has a bit of a mileage left in it. But how much of that mileage Mark Gasnier himself is responsible for is a question that will fascinate mungo baller aficionados around the world for some time to come.
The Public Apology‘s editorial team sat down for game one of the Miami v Dallas finals series, in separate locations, armed with laptops, popcorn and a sixer of beer. Mike Davis, known in web circles as Miked12, streamed the match via his NBA league pass subscription, while Dave Edwards, known on this blog and in R18+ web chat rooms as Edmachine23, settled for a lousy delayed ESPN coverage on Foxtel.
Read below for the live blog transcript:
Miked12: Lebron doing his usual pre-game routine. Slapping it up with everyone within a ten metre radius.
Edmachine23: And Miami wins the tip-off. They’ll win from here.
Miked12: (11:42) Bosh straight to the free throw line. Knocks down the first points of the 2011 finals.
Edmachine23: Clearly buoyed by his recent signing with ThePublicApology as our food and wine critic/literary editor.
Miked12: Joel Anthony on Dirk? This could get funny.
Miked12: (10:00) Every team has an ironic value starter. For the Mavs it’s gotta be DeShawn Stevenson. He’ll probably get hot now…
Edmachine23: Why is there such an abundance of light-skinned black guys with copious tattoos in the NBA? It’s almost as much of an epidemic as the NRL’s ‘arm sleeve’ situation. Watch this space for future blog post…
Miked 12: (9:14) Dirk to the line. Automatic two points
Edmachine23: Yeah don’t let Dirk get anywhere near that free throw line. He’s like the child predator of free-throws: all he needs is a sniff.
Miked12 (8:20) Our resident food critic feeling the mid range jumpers.
Miked12: (7:48) Bibby jacks up a brick from behind the arc. Everything according to script so far.
Edmachine23: Is it just me or does Bosh look like he’s got his next ThePublicApology article on his mind? He was meant to submit that article to us at 10pm last night for publishing.
Miked12: Lazy cunt. Probably too busy e-reading Updike on his iPad.
Edmachine23: (6:20) Kidd is looking really old these days. Did I just blink and miss him age five years?
Miked12: (5:30): Lebron 1 Dirk 0. Early days though… Nice finish for the 3 point play.
Emachine23: Fucking ESPN just skipped six minutes of the first quarter in preference for a lame Erik Spolestra profile piece – fuck that, fuck American commercialism, fuck ESPN. Thanks Stuart Scott, you cross-eyed bastard.
[meanwhile, across town at ThePublicApology headquarters…]
Miked12: ThePublicApology is loving NBA league pass. No ads. That means the Miami Heat dancers! Caliente!!!
Miked12: Everyone’s favorite midget (with inflated height listing) checks into the game. Barea on LeBron! Haha, JJ cops one in the mouth.
Edmachine23 (0:37): Yikes, LeBron nearly killed Jason Terry – who looks like a fitter, younger Martin Lawrence. Two fouls for King James, but he’s not getting taken out of the game yet. Because he told the coach he wanted to stay on. No-one tells the King what to do.
Miked12: Like to give a shout out to a Southeast Asian brother, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. Best Filipino coach ever. Plenty of competition in that field.
Edmachine23 (11:20): Geez, Nowtizki went harder to that basket than Hitler went into Poland.
Miked12 (10:24) Miller decides to wake up for the finals. Someone other than the Three getting in on it.
Miked12 (9:40): Loving the up tempo small Mavs backcourt of Barea andTerry. Great to watch.
Miked12: Heat cheergirls giving away free tees.
Edmachine23 (09:02): Barea gets to the ring around a tidy screen, goddamn this midget is fast.
Miked12 (8:30): Dirk needs to “fire up”. Where have I heard that before?
Miked12 (6:54): Commentators discussing how JJ Barea couldn’t get past security at arenas because no one believed he was a player. He is also dating a (recently) former Miss Universe. No joke.
Score update: 26-25, Dallas.
Edmachine23 (6:16): My God, Bosh’s facial hair is amazingly manicured tonight, reminiscent of George Michael circa-2004. Guy has style. And he hits the two free throws, nice.
Edmachine23:Heat president Pat Riley looks like Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street. Wearing a suit and everything.
Miked12 (3:40): The Book Worm hitting ‘em from everywhere… By the way American Airlines is getting some mad naming rights/sponsorship exposure. Heat home court: American Airlines Arena; Mavericks: American Airlines Center.
Miked12 (3:00): Dirk taking Gasnier’s advice – massive three! Fire up you sad (insert expletive)!
Edmachine23: Yeah for a moment it was looking like it might be Dirk No-Ring-Ski yet again, good to see him fire up…
Edmachine23 (2:40): Wade totally got fouled then. He has got to be the most fouled guy in the NBA… he’s always leaping around and getting axed mid-air.
Edmachine23 (1:12): Kidd throws an alley-oop to Chandler, wooshka! Nothing better than seeing a small white guy distribute an tight pass to an enormous black guy who subsequently dunks the shit out of the basket. And its a foul!!
Miked12: Arrrrgh!!! (basketball is the only sport that makes you yell like that)! Fuck what a play!!
Miked12 (0:25) 0.25 Chalmers again! From downtown. Playing the pest to perfection! PS I know it’s hot in Miami but Mark Cuban is one sweaty human.
Kidd in harder times…
Edmachine23 (10:29): Shit Dirk made that 16-footer look easy.
Miked12: Yeah Mavs out to a quick start to the second half. Suddenly up by 8.
Edmachine23: Fine Foxtel, let’s spice up the coverage with some shitty Australian ads. What the fuck is this betting advertisement for Tom Waterhouse (tomwaterhouse.com): “four generations of betting in my blood…” Yeah, and an equal measure of jerk. Stop instructing me to bet. Why are you trying to make gambling look like a high-class pursuit, do you think your artfully shot black-and-white TV ad is going to resonate with the average basketball watching punter? Fuck off!
Edmachine23 (9:30): What was that gay little eye-roll by Stevenson … fouling Dwayne Wade. Yeah, you did foul him.
Miked12 (9:00) Bosh is playing like a beast! Signed with The Public Apology last week. Coincidence?
Edmachine23 (8:00): Haywood takes his fanny pack off after being subbed on. What the fuck is he wearing a fanny pack for – he’s not a 60-year-old European tourist in Buenos Aires…
Miked12 (8:00) The Masterchef again! Chandler might be in a bit of foul trouble…
Edmachine23 (7:20): King James hits a three; he seriously had time to make a cup of tea then, where was the perimeter D?
Miked12 (6:28): Ever seen a 7 foot guy miss a dunk? Brendan Haywood just did.
Edmachine23: Yeah that’s terrible for a centre. What kind of a name for a black guy is Brendan Haywood, anyway? Nearly as bad as Steve Erkel. Was he adopted and raised by a middle class white family? Explains the fanny pack, possibly. And he has no tatts. Such a white kid.
Miked12 (5:56) Someone finally rejects the shit out of Barea. Stay out of Bosh’s kitchen.
Edmachine23: Yeah that was mean of Bosh
Edmachine23 (4:36): Wade hits the floor again.
Score update: 57-57
Miked12 (2:49): Dirk taking a breather. Bad Mavs turnover.
Edmachine23 (0:32): God, Juwan Howard is still playing? 17 seasons in the NBA. Knows how to hit his free-throws too, which comes with experience.
Edmachine23 (0:16): Dirk milked the shit out of that drive to grab a foul, Gasol-style. Let out the obligatory grunt to go with his flailing limbs and bulging eyes. Hits his two free-throws as well, of course. 6 from 6 in the game; 93% free throw this playoffs.
ThePublicApology’s food critic
Edmachine23 (11:30): No Bosh, that alley-oop wasn’t for you. It was for King James. Next time just let him accept the pass, ok?
Miked12 (10:58) You know you’re up against it when Mike Miller is dropping threes on ya.
Edmachine23 (10:58): Yeah, he looks like some punk lad from Marrickville. Nice three pointer though.
Edmachine23: Commentator just said “Kidd is playing with the energy of someone in his 30s.” He is 38.
Miked12 (9:15): Barea doing everything right but can’t finish tonight.
Miked12 (6:40) Heat dominating the boards. How many cracks do the Mavs want to give them? Yep, Haslem makes them pay.
Edmachine23 (05:50): Terry goes for three and gets psyched by the Miami bench. Love how close they are to the action in this sport.
Miked12 (5:00): Mavs can’t buy a bucket.
Edmachine23 (4:34): James literally charges into a screen by Chandler. Two massive humans colliding; that’s KJ’s 4th personal.
Miked12:ThePublicApology wants to go to Miami. Caliente!!
Miked12 (3:58): Massive three point play for Shawn Marion. Couldn’t time it any better. Hits the weird free throw.
Miked12 (3:24) Great D, um D-wade… And he hits it down the other end!! Too much star power. Can anyone stop them?
Edmachine23: Yeah that is some serious end-to-end basketball…
Miked12 (2:56): We’re now in Dirk shooting free throws territory. How many trips will he make?
Edmachine23 (2:35): Holy shit! LeBron just pulled a mad crossover and an epic dunk – and 1. Love the onomatopoeia that comes with a LeBron dunk! Nowitzki’s mid-rangers are all that’s keeping the Mavs in this at the moment…
Edmachine23 (1:36): Stop fouling Nowitzki and giving away an automatic two points. The guy will not miss a free-throw. It’s like fucking clockwork.
Miked12: Yeah, Dirk, doing the usual… Auto-pilot.
Edmachine23 (1:08): Bosh dunks on a Wade steal and it’s a Dallas timeout. “Well we’ve lost this one boys, let’s just have a good last minute and look ahead to game two.”
Edmachine23: Love the final 50 seconds of a match when the crowd knows they’ve got the match in the bag…
Miked12 (0.38): Lebron just put the icing on the cake. Ouch…
Edmachine23: Yeah, mad LeBron alley-oop, great pass from Wade; he’s just fucking around now. This guy has more hops than James Squire.
Miked12: That’s it, it’s fizzled out. Great home win for Miami.
Edmachine23: Great win – and good to see the Big 3 hug it out after the whistle. Plenty of man-love there.