A Basketball History Lesson

Posted: April 30, 2019 in Opinion, Sports, Things I Love
Tags: ,

Gather around young hoopsters, and let me tell you a story from a bygone basketball era, a time when a travel was a travel, teammates executed something called a “box-out”, and players who actually attempted to block a dunk attempt were applauded and not ridiculed.

Kids, what you’d also see is the now lost art of something called a mid-range jump shot! For those unaware, a mid-range jumper was one that was taken outside the key, yet inside the 3-point line. Yes, this happened regularly!

In addition, back in olden times players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain rarely flopped! In fact, there wasn’t even a word for it because it didn’t exist in basketball until the European basketball players took it from their soccer brethren and brought it to the American hardwood.

And oh, by the way, there once existed rules such as only being allowed 2-steps without dribbling the basketball and keeping your hand on top of the ball whilst bouncing it. Such rules have vanished in the mists of time. You may now shot fake, do the bunny hop 3 or 4-times backwards or sideways without dribbling before taking a shot. You may also charge to the rim unhindered, unhampered and unchecked, all the while cradling the ball under your arm like a newborn babe.

And although you may find the following hard to fathom, in days of yore after a player committed a foul he would not always run whining to the referee! Often, said player would respectfully raise his hand in the air for all to see, thus admitting his infraction. All this is true my children!

In conclusion, and you may find this bit of information implausible, improbable, and dare I say inconceivable, during these ancient times those in attendance could sometimes observe a player help an opponent up after he fell down (you have my permission to sit down if you’re not doing so already). It was called an act of sportsmanship. For those unfamiliar with this alien term, I’ll let Webster’s explain:

sports·man·ship

/ˈspôrtsmənˌSHip/

noun

1- fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest.

You’re welcome. Feel free to print and cut and clip to your locker/fridge/dashboard/forehead.

But let’s move on to more shocking news. Back in the prehistoric days of basketball (pre-2000 ish) players were permitted to be much more physical! And horror of horrors, on defense you could actually touch your opponent! I kid you not! Yes, young ballers, defenders were actually encouraged to impede his opponent’s progress to the rim! Insanity!

And finally, there once was a time where team was valued over individual! Very few players tried to draw attention to themselves by preening, dancing, shimmying, or doing The Worm at mid-court. Stunningly, celebrations were saved for, you know, actually winning the game!

You may now take some time to let that marinate, soak it in if you will. I know, I know, it’s all a little upsetting to think about.

And thus concludes my basketball history lesson. I’m sure many of you younger folk will find this too hard to believe, that it’s simply a flight of fancy from an old man longing for a simpler, and better, game.

And you know what? You’d be right.

PS- Listen, I realize most fans prefer the wide-open, free wheeling style of play rather than teams playing tough D and running an offense. To me though, that’s the purist and most beautiful style of basketball.

PPS- The NCAA Championship game featured two fundamentally sound teams. They screened, ripped the ball through to the triple threat position after a catch, shot faked, cut hard, took good shots, played hard, played intense defense, and nobody did The Robot or Flatulent Llama after scoring a basket. There’s hope!

Oh, how I’d love to see Draymond Green try and guard Wilt.

Gimme a holler.

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