Manti’s Not Alone: A Brief History of the Nonexistent

With the biggest story in sports of the year breaking last week (as Lance Armstrong screamed out in joyous relief) regarding the identity—or lack thereof—of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend, it is a good opportunity to reflect on others who turned out to be non-existent.  Don’t worry, Manti; you’re not the only one who has been duped.

Adam Morrison

Supposedly, there was once a man who went by this name.  Played basketball for Gonzaga and was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.  He was touted as one of the best players in basketball, and because of his unique skin-tone, he was considered the next “Great White Hope,” the next Larry Bird.  However, soon after he was drafted, it became abundantly clear that this man was nothing more than a fraud.  The prank should have been easily recognized when he collapsed in tears after losing in the NCAA Tournament, but some still bought in to the story. While the general public may have been got, no body fell harder than then-Bobcats general manager Michael Jordan, who selected him with the 3rd overall pick.  Surely, Jordan learned his lesson and said, “Fool me once (Kwame Brown), shame on you.  Fool me twice, I can’t believe I drafted that guy with the creepy mustache.”

Chumbawamba

After writing one of the catchiest songs of all-time, many people thought this group of Brits was destined for greatness.  However, they instead pulled off a David Copperfield-esque disappearing act, as no one has heard and/or seen them since.  But I’ve come to the conclusion that they never existed to begin with.  “Tubthumping” was obviously just a litmus test by the music industry to see what they could get away with.  Remember, this song was released just before the explosion of the Britneys, the Christinas, and the Biebers.  They wanted to test the waters of how ridiculously bad a song could be and yet still be a top-selling record.  I can see it now:  A bunch of big-bellied, bald men sitting around a boardroom table, throwing out ideas like “How about the name ‘Chumbawamba’? Oh, also we could have a part where a pretty female vocalist sings a line like ‘Pissing the night away,’ and then follow that up by just listing off various drinks.  Brilliant!”  High fives all around, stogies lighting up, bellowing laughter.  It’s so simple, and yet it worked out better than they could’ve imagined.

Star Wars Prequels

Quite often, I am asked the question, “What is your favorite movie?”  My almost-always immediate response is Star Wars.  It’s a little sci-fi film that was released in 1977 and pretty much changed the lives of, well, everyone.  But I’m so often met with a confusing response:  “What do you think of the prequels?”  After all these years, I still don’t know what these people are talking about. A plot surrounding interplanetary trade disputes? Jar Jar Binks?  A herd of Wookies swinging from trees like Tarzan?  Yoda doing triple back flips off of walls while wielding a light saber?  Yeah, nice try, guys.  Like I’m actually going to believe someone thought these sounded like good ideas.

Ed Crane

You don’t know who Ed Crane is?  The suburban barber?  Married to Doris the bookkeeper with a drinking problem who is having an affair with her boss whom Ed subsequently begins to blackmail and everything looks great until it all goes to hell?  Well, I suggest you learn more about Ed by watching the film The Man Who Wasn’t There.  (Alright, alright, I know.  Shameless plug playing off the theme of this post.  But seriously, watch the movie.  It’s an underrated, noir-throwback by the Coen Brothers.  Definitely worthy of your time.)

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