Word on the Street

Free Taco Excitement (fre tah’-ko ek-sit’-muhnt) noun. The (slightly irrational) enthusiasm that the crowd feels in the late stages of a live basketball game when the home team is close to reaching an activator on the back of the ticket that will provide the fans with free fast food. In many cases, this will rouse the crowd into a chanting, foot-stomping frenzy, even in the late stages of a meaningless regular season blowout.

Usage example:With only a few minutes left, the game was pretty much decided. But the fans were still on their feet cheering. Not to support their team, though. It was just free taco excitement.”

Word history: The term was coined by Craig Kwasniewski of The Association. In his words: “Simply put, Laker fans get wild and crazy for two things: Sick buzzer beaters by Kobe Bryant and free tacos. The promotional staff gives out free coupons whenever the Lakers win and hold their opponents under 100. What you get is the entire Staples Center in a playoff-level frenzy chanting ‘We want tacos!’ and ‘Defense Defense!’ during garbage time. The Milwaukee Bucks actually tried to foul the Lakers at the end of one game to avoid getting ‘taco’d,’ drawing boos from all around. We’re talking $1 tacos and hours of indigestion, and the place was rocking like when Kobe beat the Suns in Game 4 back in 2006. It was also very funny seeing Linas Kleiza scrambling to get the Nuggets over 100 for the ‘taco block.’ DI Mbenga hacked the [poop] out of the guy, but no foul was called. I guess Dick Bavetta wanted some tacos.”

Free taco excitement is a big deal to the hometown fans, but opposing players sometimes take it as an grevious insult and sign of disrespect. If, you know, they’re insane and/or retarded. You might remember how last season certain Knicks players (most notably Steve Francis and Jerome James) almost started a brawl in Chicago when the Bulls tried to score a couple extra points that would have rewarded their fans with a free Big Mac. Mind you, one greasy fatburger can’t begin to repay fans for the pain and anquish of sitting through an entire game involving the Knicks, so I’m not sure what the problem was.

The bottom line is: Fans loved themselves some free stuff. Who doesn’t? And it’s not like the local businesses make it hard to “win.” Take this coupon on the back of a Phoenix Suns season ticket

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Two free tacos when the Suns score 99 or more points? Yeesh. They might as well just be giving them away for free. Which I guess is exactly what they’re doing, but, well, you know what I mean. Never one to be outdone, McDonalds is also getting in on the act:

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Mmmmm …free large fries every time Phoenix wins at home. The Suns are 110-32 at the US Airways Center over the last four seasons, so that’s a lot of oily goodness being slathered around the Valley of the Sun. If you think about it, with all this crappy food being handed out, the Suns actually constitute a serious health risk to the entire city. If Steve Nash doesn’t retire soon, Phoenix is going to be entirely populated by sloshing ham beasts. A truly scary thought.

Update: Thanks to an anonymous reader for providing a link to this press release from Dunkin Donuts, which states that when the Magic win, it means free donuts for anybody and everybody in central Florida. And all you have to do is “mention the Magic won the previous evening.” That’s it. No tickets or coupons are necessary, the Magic don’t have to score a certain number of points or hit a half-court three-pointer or anything like that. If they win, whether at home or away, people get a donut. Now that, my friends, is truly FAN-tastic.

Free tacos?! Hell yeeeeeeeah!”

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Labels: Kobe Bryant / Linas Kleiza / Didier Ilunga-Mbenga (DI Mbenga) / Steve Francis / Jerome James / Steve Nash / Denver Nuggets / Phoenix Suns / Orlando Magic / Milwaukee Bucks / Los Angeles Lakers / New York Knicks / Chicago Bulls / NBA Playoffs / NBA / Word on the Street

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