The Houston Rockets have certainly had a busy summer, but general manager Daryl Morey seems to have had a busier one. In between trading for Chris Paul and spending months trying to make a trade for Carmelo Anthony work, Morey appears to have been working on a musical about basketball.
The New York Times has a long profile about Morey’s big theatre project, which is a musical about basketball called “Small Ball.” As it turns out, Morey is a huge theatre buff who is making his dreams come through on the stage as the show’s producer when it debuts in Houston next April.
Morey made his connections into the theatre world when he was doing a Q&A on Twitter. He was asked what he would be doing were he not an NBA general manager, and he said he’d be working in theatre. Jason Nodler, the artistic director at a theatre called Catastrophic, happens to be a Rockets fan who was made aware of Morey’s answer. The two connected, and from there they found someone to write the play and started putting it together.
“I didn’t think the worlds of theater and basketball intersected,” Morey said. “I thought the Venn diagram would be one person: me. As it turns out, there are a few of us.”
So what’s the play about? Well, OK: so there’s this island humans have never seen, and they decide they’re going to make an international basketball team. They build a court and somehow sign a guy named Michael Jordan. No, not that Michael Jordan. Of course, hijinks ensue.
There are other problems: Lilliput is a land of small people, so all of Jordan’s teammates are 6 inches tall. Also, the country has no concept of the number five, so the coach is limited to sending just four players onto the court at a time. When Morey learned that Maher had included this plot twist, it bugged him.
“I’m very logical,” Morey said. “I just didn’t get it: How would these people not know that you need five players? And Mickle is like, ‘Look, I’ve done 40 plays. This is going to work.’ And he was 100 percent right.”
But the driving force behind the musical is none other than Jordan — the other Jordan, a basketball vagabond who bounces around at the margins before landing in Lilliput. The story addresses big themes: how a man without a true home finally finds one, how a small community tries to marry itself to the larger world.
“And there’s a love story,” Maher said.
Honestly, I think we just have to go see it for ourselves to figure this all out. The Times piece also features a pair of songs from the show, which don’t really have much to do about basketball but sure allude to it. Oh, and if you need a quote that will forever tie Morey to a front office job with the Knicks or Nets, here you go.
“Someday,” Morey said, “I want to live in New York and just go to shows.”
It sounds like a dream, man. Dare to dream it.