Time to drop an article about Hang Time on your ass.
If you were a teenager in the mid 90’s then chances are you watched at least a few of episodes of this wonderful sitcom. Hang Time could best be described as Saved by the Bell with a side of basketball. The acting was bad and the storylines were implausible, but it made up for it with plenty of the NBA All-Star cameos and fairly attractive female cast.
The show focused on the goings-on at Deering High School basketball team coached by none other than former NBA All-Star player and coach Reggie Theus. I believe it was during these years as coach at Deering High that Theus honed his coaching skills, which he then parlayed into coaching jobs with the New Mexico St. Aggies, Las Vegas Slam, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles D-fenders, and currently, the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
Over the course of the show’s 6 season run, the cast changed more times than the Cleveland Browns have changed quarterbacks. Even the head coach changed midway through the series when former Chicago Bear Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus decided to come out of retirement to coach the Deering Tornadoes. I suppose he had some compromising photos of NBC executives which got him a gig on TV because he was a worse actor than Theus.
Hang Time had many laughable premises mixed into the show. First and foremost, why would there be a girl on the boy’s varsity basketball team? I’m all for gender equality, but why didn’t Deering High have a girls basketball team?
As for the coach, Reggie Theus was a solid choice. He knew basketball, so it appeared realistic. However, Dick Butkus as a basketball coach is a little far-fetched. Apparently, he arrived having coached teams to NBA champions and Olympic gold medals, but now after all that acclaim, he wants to coach these high school kids. I can just see Phil Jackson doing the same thing. He would come into a school in rural Montana and have everyone read The Art of War, smoke pot, and light incense in the locker room.
What is even more absurd is fact that all of these kids on the team were always being recruited by big-time D-I programs. One of the characters, Hammer, was recruited by, and eventually ended up at, Duke and then transferred to UCLA, which could have been halfway realistic had he not been like 5’5” tall. I’m pretty sure that Julie, the girl on the team, was taller than him.
Another unintentionally hilarious scene involved the same character, Hammer, talking on a pay phone in the hallway of the school to the University of Kentucky’s coach. That would never happen. If Kentucky is recruiting a player, typically, it involves them handing the recruit an envelope full of cash and the keys to a new Tahoe.
The fact that at the conclusion of the series all of the players end up playing at major D-I schools like, Arizona, Temple, Arizona State, and South Florida is hilarious. Even Julie ended up at UConn of all schools. With that collection of talent, Deering High could have fielded one of the best high school teams ever assembled. They should have won every game by 40 points even with a girl on their team.
Despite many unrealistic premises, the show had many redeeming qualities. One was the number of NBA players appearing on the show. Since NBC used to broadcast NBA games, they required half of the NBA to appear on the show including: Alonzo Mourning, Grant Hill, Mitch Richmond, Cedric Ceballos, Muggsy Bogues, Glen Robinson, Damon Stoudamire, Gary Payton, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Tim Hardaway. Deering must have been the coolest school around to have all of these great basketball players just show up and hang out around campus. Most athletes I’ve heard of aren’t rolling out of bed to make an appearance with some scrubby high school players.
The other redeeming quality was the fact that they always did those “special episodes” involving drugs and alcohol, internet gambling, racism, and sexual harassment. And they did it, of course, with great comedic flair. In one episode “Vinny” begins taking steroids in order to get chosen for Muggsy Bogues’ basketball camp. They even include Vinny’s awesome basketball montage featuring awesome 80’s rock music as he dominates the game on an 8 foot high rim.
I don’t know about you, but if I used steroids and looked like that guy, I’d ask my dealer for my money back. He looks exactly the same.
In another great episode, Hang Time discussed the dangers of online gambling. One of the characters, Eugene, loses $500 on internet poker and then bets $500 on the Knicks over the Pacers in order to cover his loss. Then of course, he loses because you never bet against the Indiana at home. Since he can’t pay the bookie, he gets asked to throw his high school basketball game, which he doesn’t and gets saved from the bookie by Dick Butkus. At the end of the day, the coach gets him to admit he has a gambling problem. However, in my opinion it’s the bookie that has the gambling problem. Who bets $1000 on a high school basketball game?
All in all, Hang Time was not a bad show. It included some fairly attractive female cast members, had some hilarious plot lines, and threw in a few NBA cameos for good measure. It is definitely worth watching an old episode every now and then for the unintentional comedy.