Nothing screams nostalgia like Fuller House. Each episode is brimming with beautiful callbacks to a time of awkwardness long forgotten. Though there is much to be said about the Full House reboot, and we’ll have plenty to say in future posts, I want to focus today on one of the nostalgia-iest moments in the series. In episode ten, we find out that Stephanie is dating San Francisco Giant Hunter Pence. This glorious return of the moderately famous athlete to a sitcom was great. Pence nails the awkward acting we’ve come to expect from athletes. He blatantly tries to not oversell his acting and delivers his lines like a ten year old in a school play. I LOVE IT! There have been some great, and greatly awkward, cameos from athletes. Here are five of the best:
Larry Johnson, Family Matters
The whole Grandmama schtick was such a 90s thing. Naturally, Larry Johnson’s alter ego made a guest appearance on the T.G.I.F hit show Family Matters. Grandmama shows up to save the day as Steve Urkel’s partner in a 2-on-2 tournament. In the championship game against Eddie Winslow and Weasel, the Urkel/Grandmama combo lights up the competition to bring home the trophy. It’s family-friendly t.v. gold.
Kobe Bryant, Hang Time
Everybody remembers the NBC Saturday morning classic about a high school basketball program in Indiana, right? Right?! Granted, it wasn’t as good as Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, but it had some good moments. The show featured former athletes Reggie Theus and Dick Butkus, but the best professional athlete moment was when Kobe came in as a ringer. When his team gets hustled, Theus brings in Kobe to tilt the scales in his favor. The best part of the whole thing is at the 37 second mark when one of the hustlers arrogantly talks about them being able to win, concluding with an emphatic “I’ll take him.” You can probably figure out what happens next. It’s classic Mamba.
The Indianapolis Colts, Parks and Recreation
Parks and Rec had some pretty solid athlete cameos. Detlef Schrempf and Roy Hibbert were pretty good, but the appearances by members of the Colts were great. Awkward athlete acting is certainly present, but the highlight is Colts’ owner Jim Irsay. Was Irsay’s acting a product of him being an amateur, or was he just on some crazy drugs? Who knows. Either way, it’s pretty good tv.
Vader, Boy Meets World
Vader made multiple appearances on Boy Meets World as the father of the sensitive henchman Frankie. The most memorable of his cameos was his last. On Topanga’s 16th birthday, Cory not only has to be at his girlfriend’s but is also tasked with helping Frankie’s father at a wrestling match. Of course Topanga is not aware of Cory’s double booking and gets mad when she sees Cory in the ring celebrating with Frankie and Vader. Vader came through for Cory by setting him up with a special sweet 16 dance in the middle of the squared circle.
Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Full House
So we’ve come full circle. When you mix in the regular awkwardness of Full House with the extra awkwardness from an athlete you get a pretty memorable sequence. Not only does Kareem try to teach Jesse how to play basketball, which is an ill-fated venture, he also serves as the referee. The referee sequence features no dialogue from Kareem, but it’s still difficult to watch. When he calls a travel on Jesse, well, I’ll just let you see how it is.
Pretty campy huh? There are a bunch of these professional athlete cameos throughout television history. Let’s celebrate the campiness together by sharing our most painfully awkward ones below in the comments!