Like the opening scenes of a low-budget, poorly-cast porno, the air surrounding the Bellevue studios of Fox Sports Northwest last night was awkward, and filled with sexual tension so thick you could cut it with a knife. Lamar Hurd, former Oregon State hoopster and current FSN college basketball insider, sitting to the left of your screen. Nicole Zaloumis, studio analyst and certifiable bombdotcom sexapalooza, on the right. Between them, electricity capable of cutting down the “just friends” barrier and turning your ordinary workplace into the scene of a hot, steamy love affair of epic proportions. Yeah, baby.
It started right away. As soon as the Washington-Oregon State game finished, FSN cut away to the studio, where Zaloumis had to quickly pull herself together. “I found myself pulling for Oregon State tonight,” she said, drawing a deep breath in with a certain fluster, “and that’s probably because I’m sitting next to…Lamar Hurd.” The name rolled off her tongue like sugary sweet candy. Never mind that he’d once been dubbed “Turd” by a rival student section; tonight, “Lamar Hurd” sounded more like “Fabio McLovin.”
Hurd, for his part, handled the transition gracefully. Of course, they only show the analysts from the waist up. So who knows what was really going through his mind.
The comments between the hosts were flirtatious, and the glances from camera to partner became more longing and blissful. For a time, there was direct eye contact between Zaloumis and Hurd, as if the camera didn’t exist, as if no one was watching. They were talking defense, but only thinking about scoring.
A break for highlights around the league allowed the former Beaver point guard a moment to compose his emotions while Zaloumis read the feed. Once completed, the transition back into studio revealed a cocky, smirking Lamar Hurd, one who appeared to have benefited from extra special attention during the break. Bearing the kind of facial expression that says to the world, “Hell yeah, I just tapped that,” Hurd silently boasted his accomplishments through my TV set. He began discussing the play of his alma mater, but suffice it to say he had a different Beaver on the brain.
They were one touch, one accidental bump away from turning this into the “Lamar and Nicole Gone Wild” show. One slip of the tongue away from renting a room at the Residence Inn. Two good-looking people bringing an X-rated feel to the set of the local sports network. Perhaps the most interesting thing FSN had ever broadcast.
When it was through, my pulse finally slowed, and I could relax again. I felt as if I, too, had been in the room with them. They had managed to step through the screen, breaking down the boundaries of television, and doing what any good broadcaster hopes to do. Their emotion was real, the desire strong. Like two rabbits awakened from a winter’s hibernation, prepared to fornicate for the duration of spring, Lamar Hurd and Nicole Zaloumis had sat there, side by side, parading their blossoming love affair for all to see. It was passionate, it was genuine. But more than anything else, it was beautiful.