Boom Boom Pow

Trekking everywhere from North Dakota to South Korea, former Cal basketball player Rod Benson has started a movement: Boom Tho.

Boom Tho, a saying between friends, became an internet phenomenon for Rod Benson.
Rod Benson/Courtesy
Boom Tho, a saying between friends, became an internet phenomenon for Rod Benson.

Welcome to the Boom Tho Game Show!

First question: In about 10 words, what is Boom Tho? Is it:

a. Wearing a ridiculously oversized mask in a professional dunk contest
b. “An occurrence of an uncommonly good thing”
c. Former Cal and current Korean Basketball League basketball player Rod Benson
d. A punch-line that started between friends and would later evolve into much more
e. All of the above

If you answered E, you are correct.

The Boom Tho Movement is centered around “having fun, being ridiculous, and being yourself,” according to former Cal basketball player and now a blogging pseudo-celebrity clothes designer, Rod Benson. He was on the Bears’ men’s basketball team from 2002 to 2006 and is The Boom Tho Movement’s greatest proponent.

“Rod was a bouncy personality,” says Ben Braun, his coach at Cal. “He kept the guys on the team loose.”

The way the term “Boom Tho” was coined accurately captures the idea it represents; one day Benson’s teammate Jason Gant said it as an exclamation on the basketball court. The two didn’t know it, but “Boom Tho” would later become a significant part of their lives, especially for Benson.

“We used to say a lot of stupid things but ‘Boom Tho’ was the one I thought was coolest, so we made a YouTube video (about it) and people just kind of got into it,” Benson says.

The duo’s theme song titled “Boom Got Them Tho” opens up with the Pokemon theme song before transitioning into Benson and Gant rapping and dancing with Gant intermittently dressed as Mr. T. The video, one of over 50 on Benson’s YouTube account, has over 50,000 views.

Round 2: Choose the option that’s not a part of Benson’s internet portfolio

A. The No. 1 blog in professional sports, as recognized by ESPN
B. The Boom Tho clothing line at boomthoshop.com
C. Part two of “Boom Got Them Tho” which is entitled “Boom Got Them Dos”
D. Yahoo! NBA Sports Blog: Ball Don’t Lie (BDL)
E. The creation of Facebook

If you chose E, you are correct. Rod Benson is not Mark Zuckerberg.

Benson, who says he is not a writer by trade, details his quest for the NBA as well as situations he describes as “the ridiculousness that is (his) life” in his blog. In his blog, Benson craftily balances his goofiness with his journey to becoming a pro athlete. For example, in response to hearing about the honor from ESPN, Benson wrote:

“Not knowing what to do, I gave a slight fist-pump. It was like MJ in the first quarter or Tiger Woods on the third green. Not the big time fist pump signaling victory, but a subtle, less energetic pump that says ‘there’s still more work to do.’”

Benson lives for these small victories. He has been playing in the NBA D-League and overseas since graduation, which takes us to our…

LIGHTNING ROUND! Which accolade has Benson NOT earned during his hoops career?

A. 2008-09 and 2009-10 NBA MVP
B. 2007-08 D-League League Rebound Leader
C. Most Improved Player for Cal in 2005-06
D. 2010-2011 Korean Basketball League All-Star

If you chose A, you are correct. Rod Benson is not Lebron James. Both lost in their league’s finals in six games despite being dominant forces on their teams.

During his junior year with the Bears, Benson led the team with averages of 13.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game en route to being voted the team’s Most Improved Player. He followed his breakout year with a breakdown physically, suffering heel and knee injuries which forced him to miss 11 games. The missed time greatly weakened his chances of being drafted straight into the NBA.

After his senior year woes, Benson bounced around in the D-League  for a couple of years, mostly playing with the D-League Dakota Wizards, including an All-Star 2007-08 season with averages of 13.6 points and a league-best 12.1 rebounds per game.

After playing in summer leagues for the Nets and Pacers, scouts would take notice of Benson but often think that he was too skinny (6-foot-10 but only 235 pounds) to bang in the NBA.

Frustrated, he decided to take his talents overseas to the Wonju Dongbu Promy of the Korean Basketball League, where he is again one of the dominant big men in the league.

“(Reaching the NBA) was my ultimate goal but now there are so many other things that I’m working on,” he says. “The journey has led me to just be happy with being successful off the court because you can only play basketball so long.”

So Benson pursued other talents he had at his fingertips. Not long after graduating from Cal, Benson got himself a MacBook. Scrolling through his new toy’s features, he discovered iWeb. Benson thought back to his first brush with blog-style writing. It came during his senior year at Cal when he made a journal entry on calbears.com during the team’s trip to Italy. He used the positive feedback as inspiration to delve more deeply into a multimedia world.

“I wanted to just make a website and see how powerful it was,” Benson says. “I never called it a blog, other people started calling it that but once they started finding out about it, I started adding video and it pretty much had to become a blog because I was updating it like crazy.”

Benson’s work on Yahoo’s blog caught the eye of  one of his high school alumni working for Pony shoes.

“He was just super hyped that I was on BDL,” Benson says. “For them, it was nothing to make me a pair of shoes and a hundred T-shirts.”

Benson and Gant put the shirts on the website; they sold out in a week. They began making T-shirts themselves and have not stopped since.

The site, toomuchrodbenson.com, only became a limited liability corporation within the last six months, but the clothing line has already expanded to include tank tops, hats, beach balls and stickers.

As a partner in his clothing company and an internet pseudo-celebrity blogger, Benson continues to make his name known through a combination of hard work and outrageousness.

Benson never made it to the big leagues for basketball, but that didn’t keep him from making it big.

Boom Tho, Rod. Boom Tho.