Photo via Harvard-Westlake School
On his BS Report podcast two days ago, Bill Simmons spoke to man-of-the-moment Jason Collins about coming out of the closet, life in the NBA, as well as some of the bold-faced names he’s rubbed shoulders with over the years. He was friends with Chelsea Clinton at Stanford, he was college roommates with Joe Kennedy (yes, one ofthose Kennedy’s) and when Simmons noted how impressive the “Six Degrees of Jason Collins” is – which free agent center referred to in his Sports Illustrated essay this week – Collins reminded him that Jason Segel was actually the back-up center on their Harvard Westlake basketball team. Yes, that Jason Segel, star of Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, I Love You Man, The Muppets, How I met Your Mother, and more.
“He actually won a dunk contest in high school, if you can believe it,” Collins told an incredulous Simmons. “Seegs, I’ve got your back on that. I’m the witness, testifying to your athleticism!”
When asked if he was something like Mark Madsen, Collins teammate at Stanford, Collin’s replied with a laugh, “He was like a low budget Mark Madsen.”
“But he knew how to entertain the crowd, and you know what, he hustled. And he was a great teammate.”
No surprise, that a guy who would go on to Hollywood could entertain a crowd, but the fact that he had serious ups definitely took Simmons by surprise. Still, in a 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times, Vince Kowalick wrote, “Segel answers to ‘Doctor Dunk,’ although he craves more than the 15 minutes of fame he received during and East Coast slam dunk contest.” According to the Times story, “During Harvard's two-week East Coast trip in December, Segel wowed a Florida crowd with a two-handed slam made with the front of his jersey pulled over his head. Before the dunk, Segel stood poised, calling for silence with outstretched arms. After the dunk, he dove headfirst into the stands.”
According to Collins, “In the dunk contest and in the lay-up lines, people weren’t expecting to see this guy, sort of gangly, 6’4 white guy from Harvard Westlake, and he goes out there and does all kinds of dunks. And now you look at him and you think he’s going to pull like five muscles if he goes up to try and dunk a basketball.”
As for Segel’s acting career, Collins had only one major reservation: “Talk about things you wish you could un-see, I don’t know if you saw that movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Oh God.”
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