A few previews ago (I measure time in previews now.) I said that the Minnesota Timberwolves should abandon the pretext of winning and seek to only play free flowing basketball, wins and losses be damned. (they have already taken my suggestions).
Their Midwestern Brothers, the Indiana Pacers, should seek to do the exact opposite. With the loss of Paul George and Lance Stephenson, to a horrifying injury and free agency respectively, there is not one single traditionally watchable player on the Pacers.
I want that anything I watch to be transcendent. Great basketball teams are often transcendent, good ones occasionally, and bad ones on occasion. But this Pacers’ roster, featuring George Hill as a primary ballhandler, Rodney Stuckey on possession absorption, 30-Some-Odd David West as the tip of the spear and R-O-Y rockin’ that low block, there is next to no chance for the Pacers to take viewers to traditional Basketball Nirvana this year. So they should just go the other way with it. Far the other way. Reeeeeeeeeally far the other way.
I have drawn up a few plays to illustrate my point.
George Hill dribbles the ball up, then sits with it for a while on the baseline. With 10 second left on the clock, everyone on the sets a four staggered screens in the key (If they call three second, well, that’s part of what makes a basketball game TRULY halting and ugly.). Hill dribbles until there’s no one guarding him and takes a long two off the dribble. Everyone gets back on defense before he even shoots.
This is the Pacers’ primary post up play. George Hill gets the ball into West at the high post, who shuttles it down to Hibbert on the low block.
Then, the guards get back on defense as quickly as possible. They’re not called “Scores,” guys. West and Hibbert pass it back and forth while getting doubled and tripled and running down the clock. When there’s 3-1 seconds left, whoever has the ball shoots either a fadeaway (West) or a hook shot (Hibbert) over their double, or they get called for a three second violation.
Everyone aggressively screens their man in the halfcourt, so Rodney Stuckey can get an all out half court isolation. Space to work with. Even if you get called for a moving screen, keep the play going until Rodney gets it up. Take a separate score. If Rodney gets 20, he gets free ice cream after the game. Videotape him eating the ice cream. When other teams are playing in the “Playoffs,” show the videos on the jumbotron in exchange for free season tickets next year. Use wet hand farts as the bed music and slip in subliminal clips of surgeries.
This one is a little complicated. It begins with Hibbert, West, and Stuckey all standing in front of the referees and blocking their field of vision.
While they’re distracted, Hill and whoever is playing small forward (Donald Sloan?) shove whoever is guarding them at the same time.
Then, West and his man sort of start to get into it while a ref stands between them while the refs and the opposing players go to break up or break into the skirmishes.
West pushes the ref in his way, while everyone else sort of squares off against each other. Old fashioned basketbrawl. n the confusion, Roy takes the ball right out of the Ref’s hands.
Everyone shoves each other and talks real loud like they do in sports when they’re mad. Roy throws the ball into the crowd.
Then, Roy walks into the middle of the court and throws double bird at the crowd while yelling “TRADE ME THIS PLACE IS HORRIBLE” while everyone, refs and players alike, yell curse words at each other. While the Pacers are doing this, they get back on defense.
In addition to being an ugly play in the moment, the resulting suspensions would leave the Pacers with a bizarre assemblage of bench players, who wouldn’t even need to try at playing transcendently ugly basketball, the type that makes a man question the existence of a just God. There would also be a resulting dialogue about role models and athletes that featured dog whistling and crap that would make everyone want to tear their ears off; the ultimate form of sports ugliness.