With the NBA franchise in Charlotte reaching attendance levels normally reserved for the Montreal Expos, all of the stops are being pulled out to increase revenue. The first step to goose interest was changing the team’s name from the narcissistic Bobcats (and really what blue collar fan doesn’t love when his team is named after their billionaire owner) back to the fan-friendly Hornets. Hey, remember when Larry Johnson was in a dress? That’s classic Charlotte sports right there.
Sadly, the name change didn’t generate the ticket revenue that the team was hoping for. Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was left with the tough reality of another 41 uninspired home games. That was until an amazing idea crossed his desk thanks to Charlotte’s VP of Sales who noticed the robust attendance at all of Jordan’s press conferences.
“What if instead of a game, we had MJ host a talk show?” he suggested at a weekly meeting.
“Not play home games?”
“Exactly. We forfeit all home games, which puts us in a better position to draft Wiggins. It also finally gives me something to sell.”
A week later, the team had sold out all 41 planned talk shows for the year. The following is a transcript from the premiere episode of “Air Time” with Michael Jordan, set for a cable debut this fall.
Announcer: Live! From the sold out Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, it’s “Air Time with Michael Jordan.” (Applause.)
Michael’s guests tonight: Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, cooking legend Emeril Lagasse, and hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut. (Applause)
How about a big hand for the man we all know as the wingman and one-man band of “Air Time,” Mr. Charles Oakley (Applause as Oakley bows from the right of the stage where he stands behind large speakers that connect to his iPhone via a clunky wire)
And here he is. You might know him as the greatest player ever, but now he wants to be known for something else. He’s the host of our show. Make some noise . . . for Mr. MICHAEL JEFFREY JOOOOOORDAN!
(Curtain parts for MJ. He’s wearing a dark suit without a tie. He reaches the middle of the stage and acknowledges the crowd noise with hand motions.)
MJ: Thank You. Thanks. (Crowd roars.) Really, now. Thanks. Welcome everyone to the premiere of “Air Time with Michael Jordan.” (Applause) Thank You. Some in the media would have you think that this show is a mistake. (Audience Boos) Now, now, that is their right. I just hope everyone here realizes they are in for quite a show tonight. (Applause) How about we show some love to the Oak. (Audience cheers as MJ points across the stage) Ready for a great show tonight Oak?
Oakley: Fully prepared.
MJ: That’s what I like to hear.
Oakley: Hey MJ, did you see all those stories about Anthony Weiner having more pictures released?
MJ: I did actually see that story, Oak. Quite an amazing tale. I mean before this whole Weiner story I hadn’t seen someone take this many ill-advised shots since Bryon Russell in ’98. (Oakley belly laughs and audience applause)
Oakley: The other big story is this whole Edward Snowden thing.
MJ: This is the guy who needs a tan, right? (Laughter)
Oakley: That’s the one. Now he’s being offered asylum by Russia.
MJ: I don’t really know much about that, but I will say that Vladamir Putin is one moody hombre. He makes Gregg Popovich look like Barney the Dinosaur.
(Applause and Laughter. During this time Oakley plays Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” on his iPhone as MJ makes his way behind his desk. Once he is settled in at his desk he waves off the music.)
MJ: What a show, what a show. Oak, you better have recorded this show tonight. It’s that good.
Oakley: I season passed it, Mike.
MJ: Great advice. Season Pass the show and you won’t miss out on amazing guests like the one I having coming out right now. He’s an Oscar-winning actor, and a great friend. He has a new movie out with Mark Wahlberg called “2 Guns.” I saw it and it really was the greatest. Charlotte, it’s Denzel Washington.
(Curtain parts for Denzel. Oakley is playing “Zombie Nation” during his walk on. He hugs Michael and waves to the crowd before taking a seat.)
MJ: Denzel, what an honor to have you on our first show.
Denzel: MJ, when Oak called me at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday to ask me to appear on this show I told him, you just tell me where and when. (Applause) I believe in your talents.
MJ: Well you should. This is going to go down as the greatest talk show of all time. (Applause) But let’s talk about your amazing acting career. I’ve done some major motion picture work myself.
Denzel: “Space Jam” is a classic.
MJ: I turned down the sequel because the script wasn’t up to the level I expected. Anyhow I was wondering if maybe we should have a contest. You know kind of one actor vs. another.
Denzel: What do you mean?
MJ: Well I have here (MJ reaches under his desk) lines from the movie “Training Day.” I thought we could both take turns reading the script, and let the audience vote on who is the better actor.
Denzel: (Laughs) You want to have an acting contest?
MJ: Let’s say 10 grand.
Denzel: I can’t just flip on that character.
MJ: OK, you win, then I’ll pay you 20. Unless you’re chicken. (Oakley makes clucking noise)
Denzel: I really shouldn’t, man.
MJ: Well. (A bored glaze comes over him.) A big hand to Denzel Washington for being here. (Applause) Make sure to check out his movie “2 Guns,” and don’t go anywhere because Emeril is up next.
(As Denzel is ushered off stage the kitchen set is wheeled into place. Oakley booms Run DMC from his iPhone to keep crowd going. Once the kitchen set is fully in place MJ waves the music off)
MJ: Our next guest has a new cookbook out about the greatness of New Orleans. I’m sure he doesn’t mean the Pelicans though. (Laughs) Here is the one and only Emeril Lagasse.
(Emeril waddles out in his chef coat to sympathetic applause)
MJ: Chef, what are we making tonight?
Emeril: MJ, this is a classic Jambalaya anyone can make at home.
MJ: Now what exactly is a Jambalaya?
Oakley: My cousin’s daughter is named Jambalaya. (Laughter)
Emeril: Not this one, Oak. This one is a classic New Orleans dish. Ours is going to feature Andouille sausage and shrimp.
MJ: That is a great combo. Oak, remember when I put chilled shrimp on a burger we got from the Four Seasons room service cart in Philadelphia? That was amazing.
Emeril: Well this is a bit more complicated of a dish MJ.
MJ: I bet I could cook up that dish right now and it would be better than your Jambalaya.
Emeril: I’d like to see that actually.
MJ: One-hundred k says I will.
Oakley: Careful Emeril! It was a great burger!
MJ: I’ll even cook with one hand tied behind my back.
Emeril: Anyway the first thing you do is start making a stock for the dish. (Emeril goes to work cooking while that same bored glaze returns to MJ’s face. He’s silent until Emeril finishes the dish.) And a little cayenne for that Boom! That’s a classic Jambalaya. (Applause)
MJ: Oak, come one over and try this with me. (Both men take a bite)
Oakley: That’s good.
MJ: Not even close to my Shrimp Burger though.
Oakley: True. Good thing you dodged that one, Emeril.
MJ: A big hand for Chef Emeril. (Applause. MJ makes his way back to his desk.) Our final guest is known as the king of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest. Ladies and Gentlemen let’s hear it for Joey Chestnut. (Joey walks out from curtain carrying his mustard yellow hot dog championship belt.)
Joey: Great first show MJ.
MJ: Feeling good so far Joey, but you know all about pressure. How many hot dogs did you eat to win this year’s contest?
Joey: Sixty nine! (Laughter) A new world record.
MJ: Impressive. You know I once ate five hot dogs in a minute.
Joey: That’s not so bad.
MJ: Not bad? How bout we have a contest right now. Most hot dogs in one minute and winner 25 large for every hot dog they’re ahead by.
Joey: Are you serious?
MJ: (Takes off his jacket and starts undoing buttons on his cuffs) As a heart attack. (Stagehands wheel on two giant buckets of hot dogs and oversized bibs.)
Joey: It’s your funeral MJ. (Crowd roars)
MJ: Oak, you make the call. (Both men sit poised to grab hot dogs)
Oakley: On go, start eating. Three . . . Two . . . One, GO!
(Joey starts devouring hot dogs while MJ strains to keep up. By the time MJ swallows his first dog Joey has already eaten three. MJ stuffs two hot dogs into his mouth to make up ground. Halfway through chewing he begins to choke. He makes the universal sign to Oakley for choking who misinterprets it that MJ thinks Joey is going to choke. That delays paramedics from rushing the stage by five seconds. Oakley takes the mike as the paramedics go to work.)
Oakley: That’s all for tonight’s show. Thank you everyone for coming.
Paramedic: Blockage is dislodged!
MJ: Those two counted as eaten!