Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten Answers to the Question "Will Kevin Love Be Traded?"

1. Yes, to the Cavilers, for Andrew Wiggins, a handful of cap matching contracts, and some other player of relative value, like Deon Waiters or Andrew Bennett or a draft pick from the future. JJ Barrrerrra and/or Kevin Martin might be involved.

2. Yes, to the Warriors, for Klay Thompson and David Lee. JJ Barrera and/or Kevin Martin might be involved. The world will hail this deal as a victory for Klay Thompson, Pure NBA Shooting Guard.

3. No and Kevin Love will leave in free agency at the end of next season.

4. Yes, and Kevin Love will stay after the Timberwolves make the WCF.

5. Donald Sterling's truth telling about the NBA will shatter the league and this will all be irrelevant. He knows where the bodies are buried, and they are real bodies. Adam Silver tore a lot of ACLs to get where he is. All of society will break under the weight of the truths that emerge from the "Sinking Clipper."

6. Sweetie, I don't care. I love you for a for a lot of reasons. You're a tender and attentive lover, you're very reliable and steadfast. But this obsession with basketball is weird and nerdy and a world I just don't relate to. Keep on with it, because it seems to give your mind the kind of fuel it needs to not run of the rails or whatever, but don't involve me, please. This is going to have to scale back when we have children, though.

7. That's Mike Love's son or nephew or something or whatever? Late period Beach Boys are the height of simulacra in music revival. There and not there.

8. Kevin Love would look pretty bad with braids, so I hope not.  Huh? Traded? Oh man, you can justtrade a human being like chattel in the NBA? Sorry, you just said that and it didn't even register as something that made sense, so I talked about braids. Just make a man uproot his life without him havin' any say in it? I know they make a lot of money but isn't objectifying a human being that like weird? Huh? He wants to be traded? Well, then, I guess that's okay, except all these other guys who are gonna get moved around. Just let people pick where they want to play if you ask me.

9. All players play for the same team variations on the same team. The NBA is a desert and team definition is a fight against the nominally of the grains of sand. Timberwolf or not, Kevin Love will always be a Timberwolf because every player is a Timberwolf and a Cav and a Laker and a Heat.

10. Shit, I don't know, ain't nobody know shit about anything, really. Paint our nails, it's the offseason.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Ultimate Basketball Player of the Near Future

(SCENE, a den, near a roaring fire. Corbin is wearing a sweater and handsome slacks and reading "In Search of Lost Time." One of the middle volumes, so you know that he has gotten through a few.)

CORBIN: Oh, hello! You are there! I was just reading a book by an old friend. (Sets down his book on the end table and winks. You realize this is not the first time he has read Proust, and are summarily impressed. He begins watering all of his house plants.) You've probably come here today expecting some sort of basketball related content. Normally I would be angry that my butler, Dave Daverson, who works here in my Reading and Science Dirigible, let you into my innermost sanctum where I dream up the articles you read here. But I just finished some important research (Corbin takes off his sweater, revealing an attractive but not showy upper body and puts on a lab coat.) into the future of NBA Basketball Players.

(Corbin takes you into a lab with many chalkbords covered in pictures of basketball plays, drawing of basketball players (One drawing is of Brittany Griner, scrawled out next to her, "Grinder? Grimer? Greener?") and important stats about basketball.)

I here at Biscutball, which is absolutely spelled correctly, has been "Jamming out" some computations about what an ideal "Big man" will look like in the future, and I've come up with an answer that will shock you. Please brace yourself.

(Waits. You grab hold of a solid object.)

Thank you.The Big man of the very near future, as determined by my extensive research:

-Elite Defensive Player, Perennial All-Defensive
-Sets good picks and can receive roll passes
-Shoots 43% from three above the top of the key

You and I have both seen the Spurs in action. Crisp passing. Open shots. The elimination of unnecessary movement. In this a sentimentalist sees the past. But I have seen the future. The expulsion of the unnecessary. The shooting guard already doesn't doesn't live here anymore, dribbling into the lane and taking his midrange shots or making his postem' ups. Observe the obscenity of the former Gods:

 (Via Nylon Calculus)

Horrifying. Where are the threes? Who is making space? Michael Jordan should thank God every day that teams weren't allowed to zone up on him, because there would have been NOTHING he could do to punish them with this anemic display of three point shooting. Don't let your children this next sentence. They gave this man an MVP Award for his performance. If America's youth every discover this shot chart, I can't even imagine what will happen to this country's three point shooting prowess.

The shooting guard is already dead at the future's hands: see people losing their minds in the street over Klay Thompson or suggest that Lance Stevenson is "Pretty underrated, I think." The Phoenix Suns have all but done away with the position altogether. They will likely start Goron Dragic and Eric Bledsoe at their guard spots next year and back them up with basketball hero Isaiah Thomas, a guard rotation where the 2 Guard lives in pine exile.

The future will come next for the big man. For too long we have humored the fantasies of Dwight Howard, camping out in the lane, heaving up tragic hook shots, getting stripped when the defense zones up on him. This is the king's ransom he has demanded for his excellent defense and rebounding, but someday a hero will arise who will provide all of these things without insisting on "Getting my touches on the block."

Just imagine: a massive wall of a man, sets up a pick above the foul line. The defense is already panicking: "We can't drop back on this fellow!" they cry to the heavens, quaking in their boots out of fear for his 43% three-point shooting. But then the lane is open for his guard to just, whoop, finish right there at the rim! Perhaps we switch!? They yell, losing their composure. But they know in their hearts that unless their big man is fleet of foot, he will fail in trying to contain the guard penetration, and their guard defender is going to b helpless against the height and wingspan of the mighty oaken man who drills top of the key shots as if he was granted a 43% stroke from the Gods. Should we double someone? Yes, but who? Oh no, they passed right out of it and no one could recover in time! The coach on the sidelines begins to cry, the pressure finally breaking him. He hasn't seen his beautiful children in months. He has no solutions to this problem. Is there any problem he can solve any more? The opposing team submits to mass hysteria, flailing around like a pack of Meyers Leonards.

Not to mention the fact that our man, spotted up at the above top of the key, hardly has to run to get back and defend the basket from a transition attempt. You could get your wings as deep in the corners as you want without worrying about fast break points. Infinite space on offense, infinite insurance on defense. No more wasted movements. Our children will never have to be bored to tears by grinding in the post. They will be happier and more well adjusted. A new commitment to voluntarism will become the new American normal. Gentler forms of capitalism. MVP Awards an Nobel Prizes for the man who abandoned the post and shot 43% from threes above the key. He retires at the age of 55, the greatest player who ever lived. Michael Jordan disappears from memory forever.

(Corbin wipes a tear from his eyes.) Anyway, that's just one man's dream. Thank you for indulging me today. Come into the kitchen, my wife has made some fried asparagus spears for us to enjoy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Animals do Shot Charts Look Like?

Yesterday, the LOVELY new basketball analytics website Nylon Calculus debuted a new tool that displays shot charts going all the way back to the 1996-1997 season. It is deeply nifty and highly recommended. While I was fiddling with it today, I got to thinking: what animals to these collections of dots resemble? And what do they tell us about our favorite players?

As you can plainly see here in Amir Johnson's shot chart from last year, we have a red salmon, it's head all congregated in the restricted area and its tail along the right baseline, jumping out of the raging waters of the three point line. Appropriate for a player who was taken in the second round and had to do some stints in the D-League to stick in the NBA; the salmon's journey back to its birthplace to spawn is difficult, the river is a cruel force keeping them from their destiny, just as the rolling riptide of never ending basketball talent threatened to keep a guy like Amir out of the league. But if you keep on keepin' on, you'll get there. Unless you get eaten by a bear, I suppose.

Exhibit B, John Stockton's chart from the 1997-98 season. It's a turkey, clearly. Check out the beak right there underneath the restricted area and the dazed look in its eyes, which sit right there in the rim. A neck perfectly situated in the middle of the restricted area. And a big ol' turkey plumage all over. Stockton's Finals years aren't really remembered as his years at all. He was merely one of a series of chumps who were unlucky enough to be on the wrong end of the Michael Jordan inevitably machine. Much like the life of a turkey: he regarded as being only for slaughter an object meant only for the fulfillment of the family who carves him up for Thanksgiving.

As an animal rights advocate and a believer in Stockton's brilliance I would like to encourage a paradigm shift in the way we think about both of these things. A turkey is a continuous animal that feels pain. I don't think it's okay for a human being to decide another sentient creature is an object for consumption and to artificiality gear that animal's whole life towards that aim. Just like John Stockton wasn't cannon fodder for the JordanTank by NIKE. He was a brilliant player on his own terms! Give John a seat at the table, don't just exalt MJ gnawing on his bones at yet another basketball history thanksgiving.

I don't have to tell you that Ben Wallace's shot chart from 2003-04 look exactly like a leopard perched up in a tree. You see its head on the left baseline, then left to right you see its four paws, then at the other baseline you can plainly see its big ol' tail. Leopards drag their kills into trees to keep them from lions and hyenas. Once the mid-decade Pistons got their hands on enough points to eat a victory, Big Ben would get the team on his shoulders, climb to the top of the rim, and swat away shots from the Hyenas looking to feast. Big Ben might not have been the king of the hunters: look at all that blue. But when the Pistons for the victory in their teeth, he took drug it away and never gave it up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brief Update w/r/t A. Salvadores and the FIBA U-17 Women's Championship Game

A few weeks ago I wrote about the FIBA U-17 Women's Championship Game which was a great basketball game I watched. The star of the game, a basketball hurricane who was chewing up and spitting out American defenders like sunflowers was Angela Salvadores, a Spanish guard who scored 40 points and had command over every inch of the court. Today, FIBA posted highlight mix of Salvadores's performance to YouTube, and I would feel remiss if I didn't share it with my readership here.

They set it to some maudlin music to really push the tragedy of the loss on the viewer. I am not about this, personally. I prefer neutral mixes that let you make up your own mind about the highlights you're watching.

FIBA also posted a video of the game in its entirety, which would be worth watching if you enjoy good basketball completely devoid of tension because you already know the outcome. You should definitely watch this block and mean mug, which I mistakenly described as a chasedown in my original write-up. It's a basketball play that will take you to straight to Fistpump City.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biscutball Collage Klub Number Two: Right Whale and his Ambitions

(Please submit any physical collages you produce to corbin.smith@gmail.com, or reach out on Twitter. I will post them here as often as I get enough to justify a post.)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thoughts on the Occasion of Paul Pierce Signing With the Washington Wizards Basketball Club

Yesterday the Washington Wizards signed forward Paul Pierce to a 2 year, $11 Million deal that will slot into the team's mid-level exception. This is a perfectly good signing, Paul Pierce is a perfectly capable small forward and the Wizards needed one of those. He'll look funny in horizontal stripes. But you're not here for salary distribution analysis: you're here for a widening of your perspectives. A telescope that lets you see all the way across the ocean and gives you a new sense of how small the world really is.

Paul Pierce's nickname should be "The Tooth."

Now I know you are in a state of shock right now. You feel like the astronauts who saw Mother Earth from space. Just just in case you don't, if this new reality is too profound for you to absorb completely and you are rejecting it as a child would bad tasting medicine, here are some key points:

1. HE LOOKS LIKE A TOOTH. He's got a squarely-shaped body, just like a tooth. Here a picture for comparison's sake:


2. He plays like a tooth getting yanked out by a child. Watch him get busy:

Pierce catches the ball against the defender. The he either imposes his weight on them, a hard push against the tooth to rip the big connective tissue, or moves his feet really quickly, wiggling the tooth back and forth really fast to loosen the whole area up. Then he yanks himself up in the air away from the gums, a tooth popping right out of the socket, and drills the jumper. Money from the Tooth Fairy.

3. Does "The Tooth" rhyme with "The Truth," Paul Pierce's current widely adopted nickname? Absolutely. Might you, the reader, think that I am just making a pun here? I suppose, if you thought I was into that kind of thing. But I am going to propose an alternate history on the topic.

Pierce was famously given the nickname "The Truth" by Shaquille O'Neal after a Celtics loss where he put 42 on the Lakers. Shaq pulled a Boston reporter aside and said "Take this down. My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth."

But we know now, after watching Shaq on "Inside the NBA" for two years, that he has a tendency to mumble. Who's to say that on that fateful night, Shaq didn't actually said "The Tooth," but he marblemouthed it so badly that the reporter heard "Truth" and when it was in the paper the next day and eventually on the tongue of all NBA fans the world over, Shaq just shrugged his shoulders and thought "Good enough."

But this glitch in history is now fixed, and fans of basketball everywhere now know: Paul Pierce is The Motherfucking Tooth.


I've seen Dante Exum play  before, but I honestly didn't remember at all. He and I were both in attendee at the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit, him as a player and me as a spectator, but I was more interested in Wiggins and Parker and Dennis Schroder, who was absolutely awesome in that particular game.

Exum was the mystery in this draft. The subject of hyperbole you wouldn't believe. "Mentally, he is built like Kobe, except he passes." "This kid can play three positions, and if you get him against short enough dudes, five positions." "Dante Exum has in himself an orb of pure basketball energy. When he gets to the NBA he will either harness that orb and dominate for twenty years, or it will become unruly in his fragile human flesh and eat him alive, right there on the court." There were the skeptics, too: "Sure, he looks great playing against Australian high school boys, but that's not a level of competition that lends itself to a real knowledge of his true skills." "He is going to get MOWED DOWN by NBA competition. He's too skinny and he can't shoot! He has never shot!" "He is made from candy and he will get the hardwood all sticky. Drafting Exum is basically tantamount to pouring hot candy all over your floor. His summer league debut was HOTLY ANTICIPATED. What would happen? Would he blow everyone away, ushering in the new era of Exum? Or would he grab the ball and burst into tears; "I'm sorry everyone, this was a scam. I have never played basketball. I will collect my paychecks from the Jazz and retire to a life of shame in darkest Australia." Anything was possible!

Aaaaaaand... he was good! Not mind altering Basketshrooms, but you can understand what everyone sees in him. Three assists on the night and he would have gotten more if he was playing with a non Rudy Gobert big man. He exhibited A disgusting crossover that made me ashamed to in out local American crossovers. (Watch Rudy Gobert on that play, requesting a lob instead of a bounce pass. Rudy was actually kind of playing veteran leader all night, a lot of shoulder patting and talking and encouragement to go along with his not totally there yet big man play) His conditioning isn't there yet: Clyde Fraizer, who called the game on NBATV, pointed out that he was "Grabbing his jersey" to get blow before the end of the first half. He jumper looked like it might still be a work in progress, but he did can a three to tie the game with less than two minutes left.

Another thing he almost certainly is is a point player. He was playing pass first all night and he has a really good handle. If Burke ends up being good, it will be fascinating to see how the Jazz handle it. The Bledsoe/Dragic lineups in Phoenix last year might be arrow pointing to the future. They even signed Isaiah Thomas so they could never be without two point guards on the floor at the same time. Shooting guards seem like they're getting more and more terrible everyday. Think about people lusting after Klay Thompson, anything for positional purity, while anyone observing the modern NBA with a clear mind would always prefer two on the court at the same time who can handle and shoot. West and Baylor didn't play in a Point/Shoot dynamic. Maybe that scaffold that was built when they left is league is going to get washed away by chimeras like Exum. If he's any good in the actual NBA, of course.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


(Please submit any physical collages you produce to corbin.smith@gmail.com, or reach out on Twitter. I will post them here as often as I get enough.) 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The LeBron James Decision Arrow

(By the time you read this, LeBron may have already signed somewhere. If this is the case, replace "LeBron" with "Carmelo Anthony" or the name of any other major free agent.)

Think about LeBron James's free agency decision as a free floating arrow pointing towards an infinite arc of the future:

The arc represents all of the possible outcomes. In the middle is "Playing basketball in Miami" or "Playing Basketball in Cleveland." Go further out, "Play basketball somewhere else" then "Play football" then "Retire from sports altogether" then "I am becoming a monk" and on and on into infinitely more unlikely scenarios. ("Eat poop until I die from shit poisoning, etc. etc. etc.)

LeBron is at the front of this arrow that points towards the future because more than anyone he has knowledge and control of what he is going to do. Then his family, who we can safely assume are probably the people in his life he is most concerned with and probably have the most knowledge of and input in his decision. 

Then we see his agents and business advisers, people he trusts with the management of his career and assets; they're not shaping LeBron's priorities or influencing his opinions as much as his family, but he wouldn't hire them if he didn't trust them. Then, the teams that he is talking to, who have an idea through both him and his representation about what he is looking for and are striving to accommodate that. 

Then we get to dudes he knows: friends, teammates, who are familiar with his thinking because they've talked about it. LeBron probably trusts these people enough to solicit their opinions but not enough to make those opinions the basis of what his decision is going to be the person he tells his intentions to. Then, reporters who tare talking to people in the last three sections: his agents, teams and his friends, and working them for information. They are reporting whatever they get right now but they're not so dumb that they don't know what's reliable and what isn't. 

Then, after all of those people who have even kind of an idea about where LeBron is going, is everyone else in the entire world who absolutely do not know at all. This includes you. As a matter of fact, you might be on the very back end of everyone in the world, because I could tell someone with only a cursory knowledge of basketball "LeBron James is choosing between Miami and Cleveland" and their 50/50 guess about where he is going is probably better than your educated guess because your guess is weighed down by giant heaping piles of assumptions and bullshit that you've been fed by reporters drawing information from all up and down the middle of the spectrum and flattening that information's origin into "Sources."

This is all to say, "Stop guessing, it's obnoxious." Where you think LeBron is going says way more about you than LeBron.

1. If you think he is going to Cleveland you think that the universe has a dominant narrative arc. LeBron left, he reveled and succeeded and dominated, and now he is coming home to reclaim such and such. Life has order and redemption.

2. If you think Maimi, you think that the universe is stagnant. LeBron will sit on southern Florida until he collapses all of the gravity around his mass and the whole state will be consumed by his black hole and eventually we will be wiped out by the heat death of the universe. Life is non-movement until everything collapses, there is no order but the mathematics of death.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


(CORBIN SMITH, the author of this blog, is at best a C- visual artist, capable of painting a crude yet  charming whale or a tree (His friend Charlie once compared his drawings to those of an unsettling child), but not a complicated image that would communicate and idea about something. With this in mind, he now presents a series of images for you to conjure, either in your head or on paper, of the famous basketball player Lebron James, whose free agency has swept the world like a madness.)

Lebron James as a tank, a tank with Lebron's head where the turret and the gun sticking out of his mouth. The body of the tank is exposed, and there are two choices for armor, one with Miami Heat insignia and one with Cleveland Cavilers insignia. Dwyane Wade is standing on the former, Kyrie Irving on the latter. They are dressed like Sargents.

Lebron James in a pastoral setting. He is picking fruit from an orchard. His mind seems far from the free agency hype. The fruit he is picking is tiny little basketballs.

PANEL ONE: Lebron James is digging a hole. PANEL TWO: Lebron James finds two gold nuggets. PANEL THREE: Lebron James continues digging. PANEL FOUR: Lebron James is drowned in black oil. PANEL FIVE: The oil turns into Tim Duncan.

Lebron James looks out of his war dirigible, overlooking a basketball game. He is in full Napoleon regalia. There is a hint of melancholy across his face, but no regrets.

Lebron James is at a dinner party. The host has made basketballs for dinner, and Lebron is trying to subtly feed them to their dog underneath the table because they are overcooked.

Lebron James is a jet stream and all the other NBA players are clouds. Durant is an airplane flying against the wind.

Lebron James standing outside of a mine. He has harvested all of the earth's coal. Death stands above him.

Lebron James dressed as a neon pink grim reaper, chasedowing the layup attempts of children wearing Joy Division t-shirts.

Lebron James leaning on the side of a vegan restaurant, eating a corndog that looks like a basketball.

Lebron James in a family portrait with four Wayne Gretzkies, aged 10, 20, 30, and 40.

Lebron James is the frontman of a Yo La Tengo cover band but they're playing "Big Dipper" by Built to Spill because he doesn't know the difference. In another drawing they're playing "Detroit Has a Skyline."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

NBA Videos and Highlights

I was searching for Summer League highlights when I came across a YouTube account that rattled me to my very soul. It's called "NBA Videos and Highlights." It's a depository of NBA.com content but it's all wrong.

The quality is terrible, of course. But there are hundreds of YouTube accounts that re-purpose commercially produced video at a shitty resolution. It's the way the image wanders from the middle of the screen, giving you a sense of the videographer.

The best I can figure, this person is using a very very old camera that shoots 144p, and holding the camera in front of his computer screen to capture and upload these videos. Sometimes, you can see him move the camera to focus on the part of the screen But then why do they sound okay? Does his camera have a little microphone input that he connects to his computer? Does this horrible camera have a weirdly excellent microphone? Is he taking the audio from these videos separately from the video and mixing them together in an editing program? 

Take in our man's re-purposing of this officially produced highlight mix. Tim Duncan, Hall of Fame basketball player, the Lion in Winter. He's there right in front of you, maybe? You can recognize him a little. But what is he doing? The announcer says there's a block on Chris Bosh and you have a vague sense of the two men colliding. When you watch a highlight mix you're watching what was once live footage being captured at a real life event. The new context that "NBA Videos and Highlights" brings makes you all aware of the distance that was always there. Tim Ducncan is playing basketball and a camera is capturing this and a man captures that video and condenses it into highlights and those highlights go into into the eye of NBA Videos and Highlights's camera and onto the internet and into your eyes. When does it REALLY lost all of the context necessary to truly understand what's happening? When NBA Videos and Highlights's terrible camera shoots it? When the broader game is condensed into highlights? When the camera captures Duncan in the first place? When anyone stands outside of Tim Duncan himself, watching him play basketball, be it in person or on  television? Does Tim Duncan himself even understand? 

When Tim Duncan dies radio waves containing his highlights will still be moving through space at the speed of light until the universe collapses. Tim Duncan's flesh is rotting in the ground but he lives forever an electric ghost in space.

The video looks terrible, but the audio sounds fine. When we consume basketball, we think we're "Watching the game." That's true, to a degree but we're also being inundated with rhetoric that's easier to understand than anything happening on the court. 80% of the time it takes me several viewings of a play that resulted in a wide open dunk to understand what mistakes a defense made or next level play someone on the offense made to make that dunk happen. But when a Summer League game features Isiah Thomas mouthing off about toughness and shit ("Clear Path Fouls should be Legal," says ex-ballplayer, real-ass tough guy) that's all immediately accessible to me. There's been a ton of talk/complaining about the silliness of free agency madness. The out-of-season "Lebron to Cavs would make the Cavs a lot better" is an easier concept to grasp than the in-season's "Lebron's ability to read cuts creates open looks at the rim off of high pick and roll action." The game is obscure and blurry but the talk is clear as a bell.

Monday, July 7, 2014





Corbin: Wow, what a good question. The first thing we teach is dunking. My methods are foolproof, I can teach anyone at any size to make a dunk. Boy or girl or most breeds of dog, if they  follow my methods they  can dunk a ball for sure. Then we teach the fundamentals of dunking in game. Dunking is great but you probably don't want your kid in some AND1 Mixtape type program. When I teach your kid to dunk in game, he or she will probably be in the NBA someday. They will at least be able to compete in the Adriatic League, like my former student Marin Rozic


Corbin: Excellent question! I am glad you are concerned for your child's well being, because I am as well. Every child who is learning how to dunk is going to need protein. Protein is the source of "Big bounce" in the human leg, according to leading scientists in both the fields of bounce and leg. To facilitate this process, I give every child multiple (5) daily servings of PureGreen Brand Protein Powder. This protein powder has the same protein density as human muscle, but unlike other powders that stake this claim it is made of plants. As a longtime vegetarian (Almost five (5) years) I think the use of human meat in these protein powders is morally wrong. I will not give ANY meat to your child. 


Corbin: Thank you for asking me for this critical piece of information, I might not have remembered otherwise. The UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF VANCOUVER WASHINGTON has an activity room where we (Me and my wife, Claudia Richards, who runs the camp on a day to day basis while I pump out exciting web content on the topic of Basketball at biscutball.blogspot.com) have set up several (3-4) adjustable basketball rims. I know that this might be a red flag, but I promise: we will not lower the rims below ten feet to baby your child into easy dunks. I WILL NOT COMPROMISE ON GIVING YOUR CHILD THE SKILLS AND STRENGTHS NECESSARY TO DUNK ON A REGULATION RIM.


Corbin: Time is really important, and you recognizing that means that you're a smart person with a lot of really awesome priories. The camp starts at Nine O'Clock in the morning (9:00 AM) and ends at Three O'Clock in the afternoon (3:00 PM) If you CANNOT pick up your child at three, we will watch them for an extra hour for moderate remuneration (ten dollars). There are many interesting books in the UUVC about interesting topics, like religious tolerance and liberal activist action in your community, like promoting tolerance for homosexuals and people with other types of values. If your child stays late, you can be CONFIDENT that they will NEVER use their ability to dunk on any defender, big or small, to promote narrow religious philosophies that seek to exclude people for their differences, like they do at other basketball camps, like, for instance, Adrian Dantley's basketball camp.


Corbin: Money is a sensitive subject and it took a lot of courage to ask me about it. I don't think you're being rude, just practical, which is what you need to get by in today's world. You would think that I might gauge you, considering how valuable a career in basketball can be. For instance, famous basketball player Michael Jordan is worth more than one billion (1*10^9) dollars. I could charge you a lot of money, but as you, a reader of biscutball.blogspot.com likely have already assumed, I am a charitable person and a poet and artist at heart! If you give me and my wife 485 dollars per child, your child can attend my camp. Think about everything your child is getting for this pathetically tiny amount of money: 1. The Ability to Dunk. 2. 25 Servings of PureGreen Brand Protein Powder, which has a retail value of nearly 50 dollars (We don't pay that much, because we buy in bulk for this event and for our everyday lives) 3. The CONFIDENCE that comes along with dunking a basketball and having a career as a professional basketball player 4. A t-shirt with a picture of my face on the front and a small poem I wrote on the back. Oh, thank you for this check, you decided it was worth it already, before I even finished this question. I will put it in the bank account I share with my wife and WE will see YOUR CHILD at the UNITARIAN CHURCH ready to LEARN TO DUNK.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Day Angela Salvadores was the Best Basketball Player on Earth

About ten hours ago, this appeared in my Twitter feed:

I am not a women's college basketball coach scouting talent, or a member of any of these girl's families, or a weirdo who watches high school girls play basketball all the time. But I do have VERY severe attention problems and if you put something like this in front of me, I will probably flip it on for five minutes and wander away to some other thing to watch when the game stops being competitive or I get otherwise bored.

But I didn't get bored, because this game was awesome. I will describe what happened for you, since you almost certainly did not watch this awesome game. The United States Women's U17 team, a destructive monolith in this tournament who at once point held the entire nation of Mali to 21 points in a whole game, was obviously better than the Spanish team. They out-rebounded Spain 51-40. Center Lauren Cox outclassed the Spanish post players, notching 20 points and 12 rebounds. The United States' basketball talent pool is the deepest in the world and they SHOULD have routed their opponents.

BUT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IF ANYONE TOLD ANGELA SALVDORES, SHE REFUSED TO LISTEN. The star Spanish guard, number 8 on your scorecard but number 1 in the world, notched a tournament high 40 points on 29 shots, racked up 4 steals, dropped 4 dimes and netted 4 rebounds to push the United States to the brink of defeat. Spain scored 75 points in this game: Salvadores was directly or indirectly responsible for at least 64 Percent of her teams' scoring. It was a basketball act of indomitable will: she drove to the hoop over the US's centers, stealing the ball like it was candy, spotting up in the corner, stepbacks from midrange. She was a threat from everywhere, Michael Jordan in 1986, Iverson against the Lakers, putting everything into slaying a giant herself.  A natural basketball player with and unbelivable feel for the game, through and through.

It almost worked, too. Spain even had a lead late in the fourth! But with a minute to go Cox recovered a block on the fast break, and put it back in to take the final lead of the game. Spain even came close to crawling back: a three pointer from with enough time for another possession was waived off because of an illegal screen. Maybe kind of a dodgy illegal screen. No one would have called Kevin Garnett for it. USA holds off the best player on the floor and wins the Gold, 77-75.

Salvadores was named the tournament's most valuable player: here is a picture of how she felt about that:

A KILLER DENIED HER PREY. Your trinkets cannot heal the pain of losing, FIBA! A true competitor and a living legend at 17. Maybe she drive her daggers into the hearts of her enemies for years to come.

Tangent: this game featured a hilarious fast break little-on-big-block and mean-mug by one of the Spanish players. FIBA didn't include it in the highlight package because they hate fun and defense, apparently, but they might post the whole game on Youtube. If they do, I will find it and bring it to you because it is a true gift.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pine trees

Look here kids. I’ve been sitting here watching you play basketball for the last half an’ hour and I just couldn’t help myself anymore. You’ve taken a beautiful game and defiled it over and over and I won’t stand for it. You need some coaching, and as it happens, I was once an associate coach for an NBA team.

You, six-foot tall boy. Stand here, right to the left of the paint. You’re the big man here, and you need to intimidate your opponents. See that girl holding the ball? Scowl at her. Really mean mug. She doesn’t get in YOUR paint, son. Sorry, what? Why are you whispering? Oh, I see. You have romance feelings for her. Let me tell you something about love, Jeff. Don’t tell me your real name, please, your name is Jeff. It’s all flefpfpf. You’ll go through all these experiences, loving another person and them loving you back and whatnot and they’ll be all messed up all kinds of stuff mixed together.

Jeff, you ever see the big man execute a poor contact show on a pick and roll? Last month, I’m watching the playoffs at Best Buy, and I see this, this… Argentinian fella, you kids know the Argentine fella? No, not, uh, Guh-nobli the other one with the shoulder length hair? Scola! Yeah, Scola. Anyway, he is guarding a 3-4 pick and roll with Lebron James as the ball handler, you kids know about this Lebron James fella? Doesn't get in there and set screens enough for me but I get what he’s going for out there. So this Lebron James is coming off the screen, and the Argentinian fella goes to perform a contact show on the play, steps out to whack the ballhandler a little and slow down the development of the play and I’ll be damned he just got flat run over like he was made of paper or something. You know for a second I thought maybe he was trying to get a call or something but I really think he just got whuup, pow, knocked right the fuck over by the Lebron fella. It was the worst contact show I ever seen in my life, lemme tell ya. No resistance, just a paper tiger getting wsshh blown out the middle.

Anyway, Big Man, I’m standing there and I watch this contact show and in that moment I am just bprchhuh rush of memories right there, my marriage of ten years just laid out in front of me. I remember all the time she wanted me to go do something like visit her parents or go on a spa retreat or be there for the birth of our child and I just couldn't because I needed to in the film room for the team, looking at film or trying to get our guys on the game plan so we can go out there and win and also so, and listen everyone, this is important for everyone, some other assistant from some, like, Rutgers or something can’t come in and take my job from me, because then where would we be, right? Everyone is always trying to take something from you and you and you and you and you and you and you and if you’re not working hard you’re hardly going to be working. Snappy wording for you guys there, I always thought that would be in my book I wrote to inspire people when I was taking a break from coaching, which I was absolutely going to do once I got some head coaching, playoff-type head coaching under my belt.

Anyway so In my experience, being with a person in like a love relationship is like that botched contract show. You’re trying to work around the screen so you can prevent a shot and the other person has the specific responsibility of making space for you so you can get in a good defensive position and prevent penetration or make a good contest on the jump shot but there they are just whuup pew chee all fallin’ down on the hardwood and leaving this guy totally open bang-bang, three point shot right in your mug until one day you’re just screaming and screaming and screaming “Coach get this guy outta here, these contact shows are terrible and I just can’t handle it anymore.” Then they take that other guy out, but I guess he kinda got a lot of your money and custody of your child? Maybe your child is like, the ball? No, I get it now, SHE is messing up contact shows over and over, but then I get yanked for it and I don’t think that’s fair, personally? But she’s a star player from Argentina or something, with long black hair that fell to her shoulders and smelled like a pine tree because of the shampoo she uses in the locker room before the game.

What I am trying to get at here, is that you need to patrol the paint and don’t let anyone intimidate you, even if there a girl and you’re attracted to that girl. It just occurred to me that y’all are playing a co-ed game here, and I am not used to that kind of setup NORMALLY but I am looking for some new challenges. Here is my phone number, lemme write that on your hand. Hey, you too, in case this one wipes off. Hey, How about I just write on everyone’s hand? Have your parents call me, I am working at a discount right now, but you guys can probably get me at a steeper discount than that discount because I am REALLY in need of a little bit of extra scratch. I am sure there’s a co-ed league out there I can really dominate, get some wins on my resume and really get this car revvin' again.

SUMMER LEAGUE, un film de Fredrick Weisman

The Orlando Summer league takes place in an empty practice gym filled with coaches, scouts and reporters. THis makes a different kind of television product than the sort we are used to in the NBA. The camera is set up at a very low angle, because there’s no space to set up a wide shot. This makes understanding broader player movements more difficult but gives you a more acute sense of the bigness of the human beings who play in the NBA. You can hear everything on the court: shoes screeching, bodies crashing, players calling out defensive assignments. The only people who react after baskets are the coaches and teammates.

The experience of watching OSL is more clinical and less visceral. All of the feelings coming out of your television is generated by the players on the court instead of the braying and hand-slapping of a hyper-stimulated crowd of consumers. There’s less for the viewer to lean on as a narrative crutch it’s just a basketball game, not fuel for the circus of emotions in the arena. It's basketball for no audience, sketches of strategies playing out in front of people watching for information, not thrills. The NBA brought to you by Fredrick Weisman. The players make the juice, not the crowd.

In today’s game between Orlando and Detroit’s summer league teams, Victor Oladipo was juicing.

An empty gym and no stakes but he was still crushing, picking off passes (the steal at 26 seconds is a straight snatch), getting into it interpersonally with Casper Ware (Ware seemed to bait him into a terrible “Shut-em-up” iso-brick at the end of the first half), making some good looks. In the second half he gave everyone watching a skip of breath when he took a tumble after twisting his ankle. It wasn’t a big deal; he waved off a substitution and kept playing, even though there was nothing at stake and no one to impress.

Pierre Jackson also went down in this game, but it was a big deal. The D-League stand out, in line for a permanent spot in an NBA rotation this year, ruptured his Achilles tendon in the first half. It’s truly the worst thing that can happen in an exhibition season, so awful that even writing about it feels glib. Jackson was so good in the D-League last year that his non-promotion to the Pelicans and a healthy NBA payday was regarded as a minor injustice by D-League watchers.

If the empty gym made Olidipo’s in-game intensity more palpable, it also made Jackson’s injury worse to watch. The announcer pegged what happened immediately: a non-contact injury that took him out at the ankles, telltale Achilles tear. Without a crowd there, it was just Jackson, a bright future right ahead of him, stopped in his tracks and lying on the ground, unable to get himself off the court under his own strength. There was no crowd to “Take the air out of the building.” Everyone in the gym had seen a horrible basketball injury before, there wasn’t a mass disassociation or confusion. Not a shocking scene that scandalizes everyone in attendance, just a human being on the ground in pain on television.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ben Grodin, the star of such beloved films as "Midnight Run"

Today, the Orlando Magic signed Ben Gordon to a two year (second year team option) contract worth 9 million dollars. This was surprising, because Ben Gordon was apocalyptically terrible last year…
..and got waived after nineteen games. I hadn’t even thought about Gordon getting signed this early in the free agency period. If you had, for some reason, maybe you're Ben Gordon's agent and you value my horrible opinion, asked me about what was going to happen to Ben Gordon, I would have said that he would probably was going to sign a veteran’s minimum-y contract close to the season, maybe guaranteed, maybe not and spend one year trying to rebuild his value, maybe on a playoff team (The Pacers, for instance, could have used a version of him that was shooting well.).

Instead, the rebuilding Magic signed him to a pretty lucrative deal. Why?

1. The Magic were flirting with the salary floor and Gordon got them over it.

2. When Gordon was traded to Charlotte, they were the worst team in the NBA, and he didn’t do a lot to hide his despondency. He fought with his he was pretty out of shape (For a professional basketball player, I’m not here to fat shame anyone) and it contributed to his poor play on the court. One assumes that the Magic worked him out and thought he was ready to go.

3. But even an ideal 31-Year Old Ben Gordon isn’t going to move the needle for the moribund Magic in any significant way. But an ideal 31-Year old Ben Gordon could be useful on a playoff contending team. I think the Magic have acquired Godron as a rehab project to offload for rebuilding assets.

This is a pretty common practice in baseball, which is a little more “Asset acquisition” driven than the NBA. A team that almost certainly isn’t going to make the playoffs like the 2014 Chicago Cubs, sign a player coming off a rough year like Jason Hammel, in hopes he has a bounceback or breakout. Then when that player establishes himself as a quality player laboring on a terrible team he gets shopped to contenders at the deadline in exchange for prospects. This is an especially common practice with pitchers because their year-to-year performance can vary wildly. Pitchers’ arms get injured a lot or get tanked by forces outside of their control like horrible defenses and bad BABIP luck.

NBA players don’t usually have that kind of wild variation in their year-to-year performance. But, Gordon's performance last year was so abnormally bad that it’s hard to imagine that he couldn’t recover a little. If Gordon can rebuild his value on the Magic, a good player playing for not a lot of money on a contract that is very team friendly would be hyper-tradable for a young player or a pick or both. And if he can’t, if he’s washed or he subcumbs to injury, a one-year contract never broke an NBA franchise.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


The beach is great. Sand feels awesome on your feet. Rocks and cliffs are very cool. The ocean has created in every person who ever saw it simultaneous feelings of expansive wonder and oppressive dread at its enormity and your own insignificance. Saltwater opens up your head, gets the sinuses all clear and open. Running in the sand has a lower impact on your joints while stiffening resistance against your muscles. The only problem with the beach is that it completely lacks arable land or any space to build reliable permanent structures; and that’s not even really a problem, because it makes the beach into a permanent work-free zone. It’s awesome!

Humankind’s natural love of the beach had led sporting federations around the world to create beach variations of beloved games. Beach volleyball, you likely know about: two players, limited touches. Soft sand cushions the impact. People don’t wear a lot of clothes and make you feel bad about your horrible and smelly body.

Beach Soccer you MAY know about. It’s played by fewer players on a smaller pitch, because running on sand is absolutely exhausting and there aren’t a lot of beaches that are consistently big enough to contain anything the size of a soccer field. The players score a lot more, because the sandy surface allows them to utilize the bare human foot’s rarely-utilized-in-sports digging capability and gift for cradling a ball to create an effective kicking angles on the ball.

Beach soccer is a higher scoring affair. The pitch is so small that there isn’t really a midfield game to speak of, and the ability to control the surface that the ball sits on makes lofting strikable passes a lot easier. It’s a version of the game enjoyed by the most desperate and needy of soccer junkies and by people completely lacking any significant attention span, like myself.

Then there’s footvolley, which is a combination of Beach Soccer and Beach volleyball. It is for showoffs.
C’mon fellas, no sport should be that hard to play.

As we speak, the state of Beach Basketball is dire. The World Beach Basketball Association’s website is hilariously outdated. They don’t have a Twitter account. Their version of the game utilizes a single central hoop with no backboard in a circular court, and players are allowed to take two and a half steps to move the ball. This takes the game much too far away from the basketball we know to be an interesting riff on an old favorite. It's more like "Dropball" than true basketball.

There is one Spanish language video on the internet of a group of gentlemen playing recognizable basketball on the beach. This grainy video is the clear way forward for a beach variation on the game.
In the creation and promotion of a beach basketball variant, the game would take an odd step backwards and more resemble the one that James Naismith created in the first place. Dribbling was not a Nasmith invention: it came about as the game evolved as a way of dispossessing oneself of the ball to move towards the hoop. Of course, you couldn’t dribble on a beach; the ball would just sit there in the sand if you tried to bounce it. Players would have to be in constant off-ball motion to get open looks at the rim.

I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not some Senda Berenson anti-dribbling zealot. I don’t think dribbling has taken over basketball to the sport’s detriment. But much as clay court emphasizes a power game or beach soccer creates a blitzkrieg of shots on goal, a FIBA institutionalized beach variation would make for an interesting riff on modern basketball. Not better, just interesting.
In my vision, the ideal beach basketball player would probably be Marc Gasol. His passing exploits are likely well known by any reader of this blog. If you set a bunch a cutters going around that guy, you’re going to get some open shots. Not to mention his own shot, an all-upper body set shot set forth with feather touch. He’s not going to need to set his legs on uneven beach terrain, he can just flip one on up there when he’s open. He is also a very big and hairy human being, so you gotta imagine the stink he gets going out there on the beach. Other famous players with hidden beach basketball potential: Kareem (the all time king of the assisted hook shot), Kevin Love and Wes Unseld (outlets, outlets, outlets), Matt Bonner and Andre Miller (set shots, though the sand would neutralize Andre’s post game), JJ Reddick and Ray Allen (running off screens), Kirilenko and Josh Smith (cutting to the basket for alley oops) and Wilt Chamberlain. (Wilt just loves the beach, it would be cruel to not include him.)

We’re going to need some rule changes. FIBA could make crowding a person holding the ball above the painted area illegal to encourage ball movement. The three second rule would have to be strictly enforced to encourage cutting to the basket: maybe even drop the pretense of “unless you’re guarding someone” completely since penetration to the basket is going to be impossible.
Institutionalized beach basketball has a long way to go, and a natural corporate predator: shoe companies. A version of basketball where players are liberated from the tyranny of shoes is terrifying to every sneaker executive in the world. The corporate interest that prop up basketball on every level - from AAU, to College, to the NBA - are united in the purpose of hawking shoes. Beach basketball presents a threat to these interests. If this is ever going to take off the way that I know in my heart that it can, it’s going to have to start at the sandroots level. Go out there with a hoop and a basketball and something to mark lines and play a game. Share the joys of beach basketball with your friends. Spread the word. May this be the seed that creates a revolution.

(Thanks to Caitlin Obom for editing this post. She is a member of the sketch comedy group Drop the Root Beer and Run. They perform in and around Seattle.)