Realm of Red: Redhead of the Week

October 24, 2006 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Each week (or so) I will profile various redheads who paved the way for our own Thunder Matt. These men and women opened doors (often times kicking them in due to their fiery tempers) that would have otherwise kept Thunder Matt toiling in Independent Baseball leagues, shagging fly balls in Newark and frequenting seedy hotels. We tip our Cubs hats to these fair-skinned pioneers.

Today's Redhead (whispering): Shawn Bradley

All cliches aside, Shawn Bradley is a tall glass of water. As a young, painfully innocent Mormon in West Germany, people would often tell Shawn, in rough German baroque, without a hint of irony, "You're tall. You should play basketball." Problem was, Shawn didn't want to play basketball. Shawn wanted to be a goddamn astronaut but he couldn't fit into a normal sized spacesuit. Shawn also had dreams of being a horse jockey. Shawn loved horses almost as much as he loved his mom and the Mormon Bible, but every time he got up on to one, whoops! Little Shawny fall off and scrape his freakishly skinny knee!

Shawn finally thought to himself the Mormon, non-swear version of 'fuck it' and decided to give basketball a go. Like most other things he tried, he was not very good at this. But, alas he was tall, leading some cigar chomping, spouse beating NBA scouts to utter, "He's tall. He should play NBA basketball." So Shawn was selected number two in the 1993 Draft by the 76ers, who could have instead had Acie 'The Fade' Earl.

Shawn didn't fall prey to the salacious NBA lifestyle we all read about in Slam Magazine. Instead Shawn was a good boy. He would go out onto the court, get his quick foul trouble, gamely try to block a couple of Robert Pack dunks and then take his spot on the end of the bench next to Jeff Hornacek, where they would hold hands, say the Our Father and then argue over who was whiter and/or more unattractive. Let it be noted that in the 1994 season the 76ers employed both Shawn Bradley and Manute Bol. Surely the most fearsome pair to ever lace up a pair of Reebok Pumps. Shawn could never escape the stigma of being 'The White Manute Bol.' Who can live up to that though? It's like the inevitable Jordan comparisons that all slightly above average shooting guards go through.

Later on in his career, Shawn spent an inordinate amount of time getting dunked on for the Mavericks and honing his Red Skeleton impression on the end of the bench. Was Shawn ever good at basketball? To quote K-Fed, 'Aw, hells no!'. But you know what? They guy was a solid human being. Shawn is currently in the recording studio with Clay Aiken putting the finishing touches on 'The Songs of our Fathers: Old Time Duets with a Modern Twist-Sung in the Key of A Minor: Remastered". Look for the album to drop around Mormon Christmas.