Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Candidates square off
on the court

DEBATES? We don't need no stinking debates.

Forget debates. And pamphlets and leaflets and brochures and endorsements and going door-to-door.

No need for road signs and yard signs and TV commercials.

(Newspaper advertisements? Keep them coming.)

If there were any undecideds still out there -- and if they could have stayed up that late -- there was a chance to see all you needed to know from the candidates. Their leadership styles.

Their coaching styles.

Yes, the two would-be Mr. Mayors were the coaches Friday night (yesterday morning?) at the Rainbows' first basketball scrimmage of the season at Midnight Ohana.

How would they handle the pressure? The split-second decisions? Strategy? And could they avoid being overruled on every move by psyched-up Hawaii assistant coaches Bob Burke and Jackson Wheeler?

"Oh boy, another year of this," Riley Wallace said that night, as his two assistants clashed in another midnight bout.

But the candidates did great.

Would anyone have been shocked if Mufi Hannemann -- who once filmed a campaign commercial of himself hitting a hook shot -- would have suited up and inserted himself into the game? At the very least, I thought he would be in the locker room, giving a fire-and-brimstone pregame speech.

But no, he seemed so calm, thoughtful.

(Or maybe he just looked laid-back sitting next to Wheeler.)

And Duke Bainum, who had always seemed so soft-spoken, he was up, and into it, controlled but intense.

"We can't get a call today, Coach!" said Burke, who at one point sprinted all the way to half court as Bainum's team pushed the ball.

(OK, hold it. Let's be honest. The only thing anyone who went to Midnight Ohana is talking about today is Milia Macfarlane's already legendary appearance as "Catwoman," in which she entered writhing on the floor on all fours in a slinky skin-tight catsuit and cracking a whip. Then she went into a lengthy, um, "enthusiastic" dance, one that I would probably get into trouble for for describing any further. Later, it looked like she may have become the first person in the history of basketball to play a game in false eyelashes.)

I got a kick out of the candidates as coaches. The way they looked up at the clock. Put their hands in to break huddles.

Duke encouraged. Mufi gave guys five.

"It felt like Coach Wallace was out there," said Bobby Nash, who played for "Mr. Bainum."

In the end, Hannemann's Green team won, 31-28 on a running clock, and when it was over he hugged guys like the final returns were in.

I asked Nash if either candidate had shown something that might sway momentum.

His answer was a long, diplomatic, eloquent soliloquy that said that whichever man became mayor would be sure to make our city, our island, our state, "prosperous."

Which shows that when his eligibility is up, he could run for office, too.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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