by Noah Cohen-Greenberg and Sam Mermin
“I think they are the softest, mentally weakest team.” - Charles Barkley
"If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his ass out." -Shaquille O’Neal
Ernie: Ernie Johnson here with Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley. This journey began in District 12, with a brave volunteer named Katniss who didn’t want to see her sister compete in the Games. We saw the tributes whittled down to two: Katniss and Peeta. And then, the Game ended in a tie. Fellas, what do we think? Shocking? Historic?
Kenny: Well, I think credit where credit is—
Charles: Probably the worst Games I’ve ever seen.
Shaq: Weak as hell.
Charles: What’s the name of the kid––the stocky kid from District 2?
Charles: Cato, Bato, whatever. The District 2 kid. How is a career tribute going to go out to a wolf? Who wants to see that?
Kenny: Well you’ve got to give it to the engineers—those were some mean-looking dogs.
Charles: Yeah, the wolves are big. But the way I learned the Game, there’s certain things you just don’t let happen if you’re a true competitor.
Kenny: Don’t let happen? By doing what?
Charles: You have to refuse. Absolutely refuse. You say: “I will not be eaten.”
Kenny: Okay, big guy. What I was about to say was––
Shaq: It’s like nobody knows how to play anymore. I mean, I’m sitting in my living room and I’m rooting for the wolves. That’s how bad this has gotten.
Ernie: Well I don’t know about that, Shaq, but what I do know is we have to talk about the drama from tonight—certainly something no one expected. A little-known tribute from an outer district winning with a partner. Where does this rank among the all-time Hunger Games surprises?
Kenny: History was made. Maybe it rubbed people the wrong way, but we’re looking at two tributes who came in from a poor district with smart gameplans and got the job done. That’s impressive. And maybe it’s even more impressive considering they aren’t the strongest, or the fastest, or the—
Shaq: I won four NBA championships.
Shaq: Three in a row, an MVP award––
Ernie: Now, I’ve got to point out for our listeners, those were in basketball.
Shaq: Ernie. Ernie. The Everdeen kid. She’s talented. I don’t want to take anything away from that. But I’ve seen enough today, and I’m gonna say it: she doesn’t have what it takes.
Kenny: She just won the Hunger Games.
Shaq: It’s not about that Kenny.
Kenny: Then what is it about?
Shaq: She’s soft. This whole Games is soft now. These guys can’t even beat tracker jackers. You’re going to lose to bees? Bees? Really? In my days we ate the bees.
Ernie: Again, Shaq, we’ve got to assume you’re talking about the NBA here.
Charles: What was the name of the smaller girl––the one in the trees?
Shaq: The one hiding from everybody?
Ernie: Her name was Rue––from District 11.
Shaq: The one up in the tree, not going after anybody?
Charles: Now, I thought she played with a real poise.
Shaq: Play? Chuck! She didn’t play at all!
Charles: I’m not saying she’s the type to win the whole thing––I mean, she was always going to flame out in the first couple rounds. Small-market district. But that’s a player I like to watch.
Shaq: She is the problem with the Game today.
Charles: Hold on Shaq. We’re talking about by far the shortest competitor. Pound for pound, that’s an excellent performance.
Shaq: What do I care about “pound for pound.” She’s soft! She hid the whole damn time! And maybe if you’d done less hiding you’d have won a ring!
Ernie: Fellas! Fellas! Focus up. Tell me: do we think about our two winners?
Shaq: Well, she’s a good shot with the bow. The girl.
Shaq: Right, that’s what I said. She’s got a good shot. But not much else.
Kenny: I’m not saying I agree with the decision-making at the end of the Games, but you can’t deny how impressive it is to win coming from District 12. That’s not just skill, it takes intangibles.
Charles: Better intangibles than Bato, I’ll say that much.
Shaq: Intangibles mean nothing without toughness. If I’m Katniss’s coach right now I’m telling her, “You can walk back to District 12.” I’m not impressed with this soft play.
Charles: Now Peter, he’s got a real good body for the game.
Shaq: Peter’s got a good body but he’s afraid to use it. He sat out of the tournament for like three days doing “load management.”
Kenny: He was bleeding to death in a river!
Shaq: I’ve heard all the excuses.
Ernie: Alright, we have to head into the break in just a moment, but before we go: predictions for the next Games?
Charles: Well I can tell you this much: You won’t be seeing Katnip anywhere near these Games again. Peter either. Nobody’s inviting them back after this joke.
Kenny: You think?