The Dunks, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Fun with Lists, and more…
What’s good, basketball fans?
Let me set the record straight before we proceed: I love Alonzo Mourning. I can’t help but admire the inhuman effort he put in to overcome an ailment which would spell early retirement for most office workers, let alone a professional athlete. I have nothing but respect for a player who puts thousands of dollars and months of planning into a series of charity events each summer that raise money for underprivileged youths. I’ll always have a soft spot for the guy who once nodded at me in a locker room as he stretched his enormous frame before a game. In short, there are many reasons the man they call “Good Mourning” ranks among my favourite players.
But damn, ‘Zo, what happened last night?
First, Vince Carter force-fed you a Spalding sandwich on a long-armed jam, knocking you unceremoniously to the wood. A little later, Richard Jefferson tattooed a dunk on your forehead on exactly the same play, guaranteeing you another embarrassing appearance in the nightly highlight reels.
Then came a slam so monstrous that I shudder to recall it. I won’t dwell on the details here, but I will say that Vince now has the right to swim in your pool, drive your car on weekends and name any of your future children. You may have won the war (Miami took the game, after all), but you suffered severe casualties in the Battle at the Bucket.
You’re still my guy, ’Zo, but please promise me that you’ll put them on their backsides next time they come into your house.
(For those that missed it, the dunk in question can be seen here. Just make sure you’re not holding anything that might stain clothing when you open the file.)
Yesterday, I gave you six reasons I loved the game and asked for yours in return. Your responses ranged from the ridiculous (shoes, uniforms, cheerleaders etc.) to the sublime (basketball is apparently a “spiritual” game to one anonymous contributor). My favourite, however, came from reader Alex Lewis. Over to you, Alex.
So you wanna know why I love this game? It’s a gracious question and not one that I’ve been asked before, so I’ll do my best to give a gracious answer.
There really isn’t a one-sentence answer as to why I love basketball. There’s a lot I love about the gigantic hands of Vince Carter and Michael Jordan. I love the way that they can simply jump over a guy and flip that ball like it was a quarter onto the rim and watch it rattle and go down with the purest confidence. I’m pretty fond of the way that whenever Ben Gordon can find himself a jump shot in the 4th quarter, it’ll ALWAYS hit nylon. There’s this way that Kobe Bryant, when the game’s on the line, gets a look in his eye like he knows everything there is to know about basketball – that there’s no damn way in hell that anyone in the world is going to get between him and what he wants on that basketball court.
I love the way that Dirk sets himself up for huge 3s at the end of Mavs games, makes ’em, and frolics like only a goofy white boy can after drilling his shot. I’m pretty fond of that Sam Cassell grin after he’s just pulled up and nailed a jumper right in the eye of a half hundred thousand tittering fans. And then there’s this way that Mike Bibby sets his jaw that says for hell or high water he’s going to try and beat that other team tonight and it’s going to be on his terms, no matter what anyone else thinks.
I guess if I had to name something that I loved more than anything I’d say it’s the way Manu Ginobili plays basketball. The way he comes flying out of nowhere when you least expect him, when his team most needs him and when the other team least expects his action. The way he can make his defender scream in frustration, not because he’s been beaten athletically but just because he’s been beaten at the game of basketball. Ginobili is a walking, breathing example of what makes basketball great; that he can walk on the floor and simply dominate by thinking two steps ahead of everyone else on the floor and having a ball while doing it.
A basketball court is spare in and of itself, but when we watch the NBA we watch a canvas being painted by Picasso, especially when basketball players like Manu Ginobili are on the floor. That’s why I love this game.
Right there is a fan who gets it. Thanks for your contribution, Alex.
Today, following several requests, I’ll be continuing with the series affectionately termed Articles That Diminish My Credibility As A Writer. We’ll be calling this instalment Five Lists You Never Needed To Read.
Let’s get right into it.
Four Phrases Allen Iverson Should Have Tattooed On His Body
·“I love Dave.”
·“I will not break the dress code. I will not break the dress code. I will not break the dress code…”
·“The league made me censor this f***ing tattoo.”
Five Reasons Stan Van Gundy Should Shave His Moustache
·The moustache will give Gary Payton something to grab onto when he finally attacks him.
·The Super Mario look is so 1992.
·Things are living in there.
·He inadvertently tilts his ’stache in the direction of inbounds passes, and opponents are starting to realise.
·Mr. Potato Head wants it back.
Four People Who Were Disappointed To See Shawn Bradley Retire
·The NBA merchandising department: Without S-Breezy, the number of new posters each year will drop dramatically.
·The Dallas Mavericks’ Team Manager: The XXXXL shorts he ordered specially are of no use now.
·Writers everywhere: Bradley’s retirement means less opportunities to use two of the finest nicknames of our generation: “The Great White Dope” and “The Stormin’ Mormon”.
·Me: When S.B. peaced out, I lost a bet that he would perform the Harlem Shake on-court following a dunk at least once in his career. To be honest, my hopes of winning that one were always as slim as Shawn himself.
Eight Headlines I Want To See This Season
·Artest vs. Wallace Pay-Per-View Bout Confirmed
·Rockets Refuse to Travel to Toronto, Citing Crappiness of Weather and Opponents
·Mutombo Admits His Voice Was “practical joke on the media”
·Tim Duncan: “He stopped laughing when I put his ass in the hospital.”
·Stojakovic Claims Beard Result of Razor Confusion
·Darko: “You laugh, but I’m still a millionaire.”
·As Part of Ongoing Image Makeover, Blazers Change Name To “Super-Fluffy Cuddle-Bears”
·Still No Contract: Is Sprewell Going to Have to Choke an Agent?
Fifteen Tracks That Should Be Played During Player Introductions
·Kenyon Martin: School Spirit – Kanye West
·Allen Iverson: Got Ur Self A… – Nas
·Allan Houston (yes, he’s retired, but still): Got Your Money – O.D.B.
·Ron Artest: Buggin’ Out – A Tribe Called Quest
·Didier Ilunga-Mbenga: You Don’t Know My Name – Alicia Keys
·Michael Sweetney: The Food – Common
·Rip Hamilton: The Mask – Danger Doom
·Antoine Walker: Me, Myself And I – De La Soul
·Kobe Bryant: Beat The Clock – Ghostface Killah
·Mark Madsen: 1-900-Hustler – Jay-Z
·Rasheed Wallace: Stop Smoking That Sh*t – K.M.D.
·Ray Allen: Jesus Walks – Kanye West
·Keyon Dooling: Slow it Down – Little Brother
·Keith Van Horn: Ho – Ludacris
·T.J. Ford: Guess Who’s Back – Scarface
Short of cracking Yo’ Mama jokes, I’m not sure how we could have sunk any lower today. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, feel free to email me at [email protected] or post a message using the box at the bottom of the page. Check back again tomorrow for a return to the schedule with what will (hopefully) be a slightly more serious look at the world of the NBA. Until then, take it easy.