In order to understand what "The Chemist" actually is, we must get the proper definition from the creators themselves: Grantland.com's Bill Simmons and Rembert Browne.
During pregame intros for a Knicks-Suns game at MSG, I noticed Renaldo Balkman had thrown himself into that James Posey-type role for the Knicks: In other words, he's the last guy every starter greets during the intros, and he's the guy who waits at midcourt before the opening tap for one last round of "good luck" hugs and hand slaps. That got me thinking ... why does every team suddenly have someone like this? Did James Posey start it? Was it Damon Jones? Was it someone earlier than them? Do teams elect this player or is it more of an unspoken embrace of that role? Does the player elect himself? What if two guys want to play that role? And what should we call this person?
Anyway, Grantland's Rembert Browne and I came up with the perfect name for this job ("The Chemist")...
This is the role that JaVale McGee has carved out for himself when he's not on the floor. Before games, McGee can be seen carrying out various "rituals" with teammates, folks at the scorer's table, and with the fans. Whenever George Karl calls on McGee to enter the game for the Nuggets, the big man glides over to the scorer's table and tosses his headband (that he only wears during pregame drills) into the crowd. And after games, McGee will throw various accessories into the crowd - including his Peak shoes (I even hear he'll sign the shoes if you can track him down).
Along with all of the above, McGee is also the biggest "cheerleader" on the bench for any and all big plays that happen for the Nuggets. Let's do a little video breakdown of McGee's fine performance on the bench, using the following Kenneth Faried dunk against the Chicago Bulls.
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1.) The scene unfolds with Richard Hamilton doing what he does best nowadays - bricking a jumper (don't trade Timofey Mozgov for him!!!!).
2.) Mr. Manimal aka Faried cleans up the defensive glass and fires an outlet pass to Ty Lawson.
3.) As Lawson crosses halfcourt - let your eyes wander over to the Nuggets bench. You'll see McGee as the first player to the Karl's right ... in a yellow headband, powder-blue warmup coat, yellow shorts, blue leg pads, and yellow shoes. And McGee looks ready to spring to action as the first sign of something brilliant unfolding in front of him. Let's face it, McGee knows how to accessorize.
4.) Lawson and Faried run a half-assed attempt at a pick-and-roll as Ty takes the lane and darts towards the hoop, Faried also gets on his horse, and Lawson quickly finds him for a crowd pleasing and Chemist pleasing dunk.
5.) At the 0:08-0:09 second mark of the video, McGee has already recognized that his services as The Chemist will be needed as Faried is about to take off, McGee is heading up out of his seat as well.
6.) Just one second later, Faried is coming into contact with the rim and McGee can be seen on one leg with both arms and his other leg stretched out in wild excitement.
7.) McGee uses his downward momentum to head to a squat position and looks like he's ready to star in Point Break 2 as the surfer in McGee can be seen - knees bent and arms now out in a horizontal pose. But McGee is not done there, oh no!
8.) McGee tosses in a little Kung-fu type arm wave that really ties his whole celebration together. I call this move: The Reverse JaValelevator as he starts at the top floor and brings the party down after Faried's big dunk.
High definition cameras and a keen eye for detail can lift the whole experience of a Nuggets game to a new level. McGee can do spectacular things when he's on the floor and it's awesome to see him get excited for his teammates, too. All season long, McGee has been providing a spark as the Denver Nuggets Chemist.
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