EXT. TOLL ROAD - NIGHT
The road’s quiet. Barkley steers the car under the lights of the tollbooth--his brightened face shows the trademark wrinkles of exposure to Spike Lee’s GARBAGE COMMENTARY all day, but we can see that he appreciates Samuel L. Jackson’s company. The car slows--Chuck’s a RESPONSIBLE DRIVER.
Barkley throws the coins into the chute, and they just barely rim out.
JACKSON: (chuckling) It’s almost like you never played basketball before, even though you were definitely an NBA All-Star a remarkable eleven times. Despite your recent embarrassment, I still respect you greatly.
BARKLEY: Thanks, bud.
SPIKE: (he thinks he should always get the last word around these guys) Those three-footers are tough.
BARKLEY: Really, Spike? Really? Tell that to your boy Pat Ewing.
It’s a brutal insult because Ewing missed A BUNNY OF A FINGER ROLL that would’ve tied a Game 7 for the Knicks. Spike knows this--it’s a bit of trivia, but he likes New York basketball.
JACKSON: (chuckling) The Knicks do blow.
BARKLEY: Forget the triangle, they can’t even do a layup line. Hell, the St. Louis Rams treat their fans better than the Knicks do.
Chuck gets out of the car, picks up the loose change and deposits it in the chute like a coordinated and thoughtful citizen. He gets back in the driver’s seat.
SPIKE: (desperately trying to save face) You grabbed those rebounds, though!
Chuck drives a bit before slamming on the brakes, having had a MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH.
BARKLEY: You know what? He Got Game was terrible.
INT. CAR - NIGHT
Jackson drives, with Barkley in the passenger seat and Spike in the backseat like the DE FACTO THIRD WHEEL that he is. For whatever reason, Barkley is singing.
BARKLEY: If you like pina coladas / And getting caught in the rain
His voice is soulful, heart-wrenching and honest, a DESERVED SLAP IN THE FACE that makes us want to say thank you to its deliverer.
SPIKE: (for some reason thinking he’s a part of this) And if you’re not into Yog--
JACKSON: Let’s hear Chuck sing it.
Barkley starts clearing his throat and doing that thing with nasal spray that Luciano Pavarotti probably would’ve done if he ever got cast in March Madness commercials.
SPIKE: But I’m the one who dir--
JACKSON: (pretty serious, at this point he’s barely acting he’s so pissed at Spike for cutting off Barkley) Hey, I don’t have a f----- clue, but maybe let’s hear Chuck sing it?
Spike shuts up and pouts silently, desperately brainstorming another HAIL MARY ATTEMPT TO STAY RELEVANT in today’s culture. Barkley gives Jackson a quick smile, like they’re clearly the two best friends and Spike is just the rich kid who lets them party at his parents’ house while they’re on vacation.
BARKLEY: I’m the love that you’ve look for / Write to me and escape..
It’s a beautiful rendition, and we’re all better off for having heard it. Also, it’s NOT EVEN REMOTELY RELATED TO CREDIT CARDS.
INT. CAR - DAY
The squad is on the highway, probably outside some podunk city like Milwaukee. The setup in the car is meritocratic--Barkley in the driver’s seat, with Jackson riding shotgun. For all they care, Spike could be locked in the GODDAMN TRUNK.
BARKLEY: I think I want a new nickname.
JACKSON: And what’s wrong with “Sir Charles”?
BARKLEY: I need something fresh.
SPIKE: How about “Slam Chunk”?
BARKLEY: Oh that’s clever..it reminds me of my favorite nickname for you: “Tomahawk Spike Hasn’t Made a Good Movie In A Decade.”
SPIKE: Hey, you haven’t see Chi-Raq yet.
BARKLEY: Hell, no one has.
JACKSON: Remember that time when Spike was so insufferable that he actually made Reggie Miller sympathetic?
BARKLEY: That Knicks-Pacers documentary shoulda been called “20 for 20” because even with hindsight no one cared about those teams.
JACKSON: And the Mars Blackmon stuff? That was just pathetic.
BARKLEY: Spike sniffed MJ’s jock so much in the 90s they called him Clyde Drexler.
The RESIDUAL HOSTILITY in the car is suffocating, even for the viewer.
BARKLEY: Spike, why are you still on this road trip?
JACKSON: Oh I got one! “Kevin Fart”-- because he’s loud, annoying, and he lingers.
BARKLEY: Seriously, though. We tolerate you, but, like, that’s about it.
SPIKE: (sighing deeply) I..I don’t really have friends.
They drive off in silence as the standard Capital One popup appears. It’s situations like these that make customers really want to think about UNLIMITED 1.5% CASHBACK.
Lucas Hubbard is a humorist living in Washington DC. You should follow him on Twitter.