That’s Duane Causwell up there. You may remember the 7-footer’s days as a high school hoops star for Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens (which had an athletic field so bad that the lacrosse team I played on in high school once ran a play in which an offensive player attempted to kick up enough dirt/dust/sand around the crease to cloud the goaltender’s vision — a play that was nearly effective), his college career as a Temple Owl, or his 11 years in the pros, during which he averaged 4.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the Sacramento Kings and Miami Heat.
(If you don’t remember him from that, he was in the 1996 epic Eddie, which you and I both know you saw more than once.)
Well, according a press release circulated this afternoon, Causwell and producer Mark Skeete are launching a new reality show called “America’s Top Baller,” designed presumably to find the best basketball player in the country’s who’s not in the NBA.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The official release went out today and was first posted about by Quibian Salazar-Moreno of Black Voices’ Casually Obsessed, near as I can tell. However, the New York Daily News had a story on the show almost three weeks ago, which was picked up (though not cited — for shame) by Agree 2 Disagree 365. It’s pretty weird that the show’s producers waited a full 18 days after the story broke in the biggest media market in the country to issue a press release. Almost makes you suspect this isn’t a tightly run ship.
Anyway, from the release:
Coming to a city near you, America’s Top Baller will scour the nation for 50 players, men or women, all races and nationalities, with the skills to make the initial cut. Only 30 ballers will survive. Siphoned off into teams, America’s Top Baller will shine through head-to-head battle.
Setting aside the questionable writing (“Siphoning”? The show will “shine through head-to-head battle”?), the cross-gender head-to-head seems like it could be interesting or abysmal. Plus, this next part seems kind of odd:
Not just the brainchild of some Hollywood exec, America’s Top Baller draws its street cred from real-life former NBA player Duane Causwell, who played with the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings. (emph. mine)
With all due respect a 7-foot gentleman who I’m sure could whip my county ass (not a typo; an homage), does Duane Causwell’s name evoke “street” to you? Through an (admittedly quick) inspection of the LexisNexis database and Google, I didn’t exactly find a boatload of evidence that Causwell was Ron-Ron before Ron-Ron was Ron-Ron or anything. In fact, there’s not too much of anything out there.
Also, producer/Causwell childhood friend Skeete isn’t exactly Mark Burnett (dude behind Survivor and The Apprentice). The press release calls him “a former rapper/record label owner turned reality show producer”; InBaseline says Skeete actually only produced audition segments during the 2007 season the BET series Sunday Best, a reality show looking for “America’s next great gospel star,” a credit not even listed on his IMDB profile. (As a matter of fact, Skeete’s IMDB profile boasts only one credit, as a cast member in the 2001 straight-to-video flick Da Mission, and his name shows up on Video on Demand as one of the stars of the “hip-hopumentary” Freak Nik.)
My bold prediction is that this will be an abysmal show, less watchable even than MTV’s Magic Johnson-cosigned Who’s Got Game? There are two things I’m legitimately excited for, though:
- The show will “cover every aspect [of the journey to the pros], from the psychological tests to the workouts,” according to Causwell (emph. mine).
I’m a big fan of psychological tests. In fact, I’d love it if the players had to get full psych workups done; the main thing that always sucks me into bad television (especially reality shows) is the sick glimpse it gives you inside competitors’ heads and, by extension, into the soul of the America that I don’t often get to see. I’d imagine the kind of people who chase hoop dreams on a show this broke-ass would have a firehose of interesting and crippling emotional problems to unload on an unsuspecting public.
- “Ultimately, America’s Top Baller is about restoring lives, not just fulfilling dreams, as the last baller standing will receive a professional contract as well as their own signature sneaker.” (emph. mine)
Can’t WAIT to see those shoes. I heard they’re using these as prototypes.
According to the Jan. 30 Daily News piece, while the show doesn’t have a network partner lined up, it’s expected to air this summer. Maybe they’ll wait until after the finals. I guess even bad basketball on television is better than no basketball on television, right?