While eating a veal parmesan sandwich in a Queen’s diner a couple nights ago, I heard a bunch of kids talking about John Cena, the wrestler. These were elementary-age kids and they were there with their parents of course. I didn’t pay enough attention to the context, but they were talking about Cena a lot. Maybe that’s because Wrestlemania was last weekend. I don’t know. But, I don’t think you have to be a wrestling fan to know who John Cena is. He’s not on the level of Dwayne Johnson, The Rock, but you probably know who Cena is. And if you know who Cena is, then you know of his hand gesture.
To be a star in wrestling, you need a signature or a catchphrase. Hulk Hogan has “Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?” The Rock has, “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?” And John Cena has “You can’t see me.” No, wrestling catchphrases don’t have to make sense. Does anyone truly under the thing about what The Rock is cooking? He’s cooking being in a lot of bad movies.
But it’s Cena’s “Can’t see me” that’s in the news right now. Maybe that’s why the kids in the diner were talking. Nah, I doubt they watch a lot of news. Cena’s catchphrase also comes with a hand gesture he performs in the ring. At some point during every Cena match, his opponent will be dazed and lying flat on the mat, facing up. Cena will lean over the guy, put his hand in front of his own face, and wave it back and forth, meaning, “You can’t see me,” telling his opponents that they can’t compete with him or he’s too fast for them to see him coming. It wasn’t created by Cena. He’s given credit to the rapper Tony Yayo but it was seen much earlier than that as Flavor Flav did it years before. He didn’t invent it, b you have to give Cena credit for popularizing the gesture which I’m sure Caitlin Clark does.
Caitlin Clark is one of the stars of the Iowa University women’s basketball team which made a run all the way to the Final Four. Throughout the NCAA tournament, she did the Cena gesture to her opponents. But during the closing moments of Iowa’s 102-85 defeat to LSU, Angel Reese of the winning team did the gesture to Clark. You can’t see your opponents when you lose by 17 points.
After the game, LSU’s Angel Reese caught a shitstorm of flak for doing the gesture, while tapping her ring finger, to Clark. How dare she. How unsportsmanlike. And that’s no way for a young lady to act. Heavens to Betsy! Why the nerve!
Hmm, it’s weird that Clark didn’t get any shit for it throughout the tournament. In fact, it’s weird how nobody gets any grief for any trash-talking in basketball until now. The word “classless” trended on Twitter.
Clark, who finished the tournament with 191 points, the most ever scored by any man or woman in a single NCAA tournament, received praise from Cena himself for using the gesture. He tweeted, “Even if they could see you…they couldn’t guard you.” She didn’t get any heat from anyone for it. But Reese did. By the way, Clark is white and Reese is black. Certainly, that doesn’t have anything to do with it, right?
Reese was unapologetic, saying, “I don’t fit in the box that you all want me to be in. I’m too hood, I’m too ghetto. You told me that all year. But when other people do it, y’all don’t say nothing. So this is for the girls that look like me, that want to speak up on what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. It was bigger than me tonight.”
Caitlin Clark, the recipient of Reese’s taunt, said, “I don’t think Angel should be criticized at all. I’m just one that competes, and she competed. I think everybody knew there was going to be a little trash talk in the entire tournament. It’s not just me and Angel.” She also said, “Men have always had trash talk … You should be able to play with that emotion … That’s how every girl should continue to play.”
She’s absolutely right. Trash talk is an element of the game. If you think trash talk is unsportsmanlike, an maybe it is, I have some bad news for you. Your favorite players were trash-talkers.
Michael Jordan once backed off Mugsy Bogues, who’s significantly shorter than Jordan, and said, “Shoot it you fucking midget.” Bogues shot, missed, and later said that one shot ruined his career. Jordan got into his head. Jordan would often tell an opponent what he was going to do, then do it. He’d even trash-talk the opposing coaches. One player tried to trash-talk Jordan, who then replied that he had a lot to say for a guy wearing his shoes. The man was wearing Air Jordans.
Charles Barkley is one of the greatest trash talkers and Jordan once said, “Barkley playing without talking would be like me playing with hair.” Barkley said he always wanted his and Jordan’s trash-talking to be on the level of Magic Johnson and Larry Byrd trashing each other. And Larry Bird may be the all-time best at it.
During the warmup for an All-Star three-point contest, Bird walked in and told his competitors, “I hope all you guys in here are thinking about second place because I’m winning this…excuse me,” and started sinking three-point shots without taking his jacket off.
Bird would trash-talk coaches too, asking one, “Haven’t you got anyone on the bench who can guard me?” The coach looked down his bench and said, “No.”
Before a Christmas day game against the Celtics in Boston, Chuck Person nicknamed the “Rifleman,” of the Indiana Pacers said, “The Rifleman is coming, and he’s going Bird Hunting.” During the game, Bird shot a three and before the ball was even through the net, turned to Person and said, “Merry Fucking Christmas.”
Of course, the worst trash-talker of tall time is Donald Trump. He sucks at it. When Hillary Clinton called him “Putin’s Puppet,” the best he could retort with was, “You’re the puppet.” He couldn’t even come up with, “I know you are but what am I?”. He loves to trash women, calling them pigs or that they’re too ugly for him to sexually assault after he’s assaulted them. He calls Stormy Daniels “Horse face.” And you want to trash Angel Reese for being “classless?”
Now, Trump and his supporters are trash-talking Lady Justice after his arrest this week over hush money payments to Daniels.
Here’s the thing though: Calling a woman you had sex with “horse face” is like trashing Jordan while wearing his shoes. It doesn’t work. It’s like when a Trumper tries to insult me by telling me to “go draw a cartoon.” Uh, OK. I’m a cartoonist. I literally draw cartoons for a living. These are the same people who think a chant about having sex with President Biden, “Let’s go, Brandon,” is clever. Republicans set themselves up to be trash-talked, naming one of their groups “Tea Party.” How did they not see “Tea Baggers” coming?
But right now, they can keep trash-talking Lady Justice all they want because as was proven Tuesday, it doesn’t work. Lady Justice is scoring on you and accusing her of being political and biased won’t stop her. Justice is now being served.
Lady Justice is scoring on Trump, and he can’t see her.
Creative note: I had two concerns with this cartoon. First, that someone had already done it. So I scoured the usual places where I read cartoons and didn’t see it. Good. My second concern was that no one would get it. One of my proofers got and the other did not. But from the comments it’s received so far, it works. Now, I have a new concern and that is someone’s going to steal the idea. But hey, they can’t see me.
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