The NBA won’t begin playing for real for another week and a half, but Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard has declared it game over at the league’s “bubble” setting at Disney World when it comes to beer guzzling.
Having already taken down challengers with his shotgun abilities of both the 12-once and 16-ounce varieties, the 7-footer said it is time to move past the suds statements of all others for three simple reasons.
“When they call you The Hammer, No.1,” he said of his nickname. “No. 2, when you come from the sticks. And No. 3, I don’t even know what the hell. People just can’t hang.
“That’s just all there is to it. I said it in the preseason when I arrived to Miami. Listen, when somebody asks you, ‘Oh, what’s your hidden talent?’ I got to say mine might be chugging beer.”
Beer, like basketball, he said, simply is his craft.
“People just can’t touch me, brother,” he said between Heat evening practices. “It’s not close. It just isn’t. Shotguns, chugs, it doesn’t matter. Get them out of here. It’s too easy.”
Quarantine? Heck, it’s been more like Octoberfest for the impending free agent.
It started rather benignly, when, while still confined to his room amid quarantine at the Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs, Leonard offered an example of the art of the beer shotgun.
So with a hole cut into his 12-ounce Coors Light, the muscular 7-footer raised the can to his mouth, said into his camera, "Cheers everybody," and then pulled that tab.
Shotgun completed, even if not necessarily up to Leonard's standards.
"And . . . I messed up the beer crack too," he tweeted. "Slowed me down. And lastly . . . yes I drank every drop."
"King of the Bubble. Accepting all challengers," Leonard posted on social media.
"Man, I'm in," Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson responded on his Twitter. "Stop playing with me. I'll crush this challenge."
And so there they stood, amid an un-Disney-like moment at Disney, this time with the stakes raised, moving up to 16-ounce cans, with Leonard’s Heat teammate Duncan Robinson on hand with his camera. The challenge came between Heat practice days.
Although slow at the start, Leonard was fast at the finish. Challenge conquered.
"That's the big hammer, you hear me?" Leonard bellowed to his NBA witnesses.
Then, after cursing and making it clear not a drop went to waste this time, he added, "Can't nobody hang with me!"
Ample flexing followed.
And, no, the 28-year-old veteran didn't take kindly to those who questioned the mere 12-ounce opening act.
"I was drinking baby cans?" he noted. "No problem. 16oz might have been easier. Ain't nobody competing with me."
The head-to-head moment came after New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick made his own beer boast, posting a video of himself shot-gunning a Bud Light while sitting in an ice bath after practice.
"Sorry meant to post this earlier," Redick posted. "Multitasking post practice."
There will be plenty of time to up the alcohol ante, with players and their teams locked into the Disney “bubble” during the coronavirus pandemic.
As for a possible Round 2 between Leonard and Clarkson? Well, there also is basketball to be played, with the Heat scheduled for a Saturday scrimmage against the Jazz and Clarkson at the Wide World of Sports complex.