In honor of the lockout that never ends, I present to you my five favorite shots (or basketball-court-related-moves, but mostly shots) to see on a basketball court. Just a pleasant reminder of what we're missing. I mean, not now, but what we're going to miss.
You know what I mean.
Feel free to post your own below.
The T-Mac set-shot
Okay, granted, this one has been missing in action for some years. Yes. I had the weird experience, this year, of seeing T-Mac play the Mavs in person as a Piston (a team I hate watching, because I can’t help but remember those Pistons-Pacers series of the mid-00s which were similar to basketball in the way that getting punched in the face is similar to a good first date), and he moved the same way but nothing happened.
Still, this will always have a place in my heart.
Let me just say this, there never was a player the Mavs played, not even J-Rich/Baron Davis, who scared me as much at the end of a playoff game, than the player Ralph Wiley (RIP) once called T Muad’dib.
However far behind the Rockets were, T-Mac would dribble up the court, lazy-eyed, slow. Then, wherever he felt like it, he would just raise his arms, jump like an inch off the ground and the ball would hit the dead center of the back of the rim and drop through. From literally anywhere. From a different town. When he later scored 13 points in 33 seconds, though I was amazed, I was not surprised.
People forget, maybe because it was so unbelievable, that T-Mac was LeBron before LeBron was LeBron. In that Mavs series, he averaged 30.7, 6.7 assists, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks—in fact, he’s still 5th all-time in playoff points per game. I’ve hated his sudden decline hard core.
By the way, probably the best game I’ve ever seen in person was the game in which Dirk scored 53 to T-Mac’s 47 to win in overtime.
Dwight Howard’s block into the stands
It may surprise you to know I’ve never played professional basketball. In fact, the apex of my career was playing on the B Team for Trinity College Dublin, and was the sixth or seventh man. That’s right—I earned my jersey as a bench player for a second team for a college in a country that doesn’t play basketball.
We had to share our courts with the trampoline team. I’m not kidding.
In any case, the point is my understanding of the real speed of NBA basketball is presumably so inadequate, that sixty year-old at the Y with the sports glasses and the sharp elbows is probably laughing about it.
That being said, Dwight Howard—who, like Shaq before him but probably even more so, is the current NBA poster-child for a dominant player who always seems like he could be even more dominant if he just wanted to be—isn’t helping his cause by appearing to consistently choose style over substance.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a thing in basketball that feels better than slamming someone else’s shot so far off the court, The Proclaimers wouldn’t go get it—as Genghis Khan once said, "The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms."—but tap a couple back to yourself, big guy. Getting to run another half-court set is not exactly punishment.
The Jason Kidd layup
Sometimes J-kidd really does hit a layup, and it’s amazing. One of the things that we’ll never actively remember about this postseason is that the Mavs really could have been knocked off by the Blazers if it weren’t for Jason taking a couple of scoring tips from Dirk and—for just two games—having those tips take. He scored 24 and 18 points, a total of 42, which, considering that his previous high for the season was a 21 point explosion on Jan 19th, can presumably be justly considered an outlier.
More often than not, our Kidd—whom we raised from a young bald point guard to an old one—literally tries a reverse, basically every time JUST to give the other team more time to foul him.
It makes me giggle every time. No one else, as far as I know has ever done that.
The Shawn Bradley jumper
This is another retired one.
Because Shawn Bradley looked so hilarious, it’s easy to forget that there were ways in which he was an excellent b-ball player. Never a great rebounder for his size, because he presumably weighed as much as a 7’6" spaghetti noodle, the guy was a fearsome shot-blocker. SB was not only, for the latter half of his career, a role player whenever possible, but he only made it through twelve seasons total—but he has more blocks than Ben Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Theo Ratliff, Moses Malone—even Tim Duncan just passed him two years ago, in a million more games and minutes. Marcus Camby, whose only real strengths as a center are a weirdly effective jumper, a nose for garbage rebounds and the ability to block any shot whenever, wherever, passed him like a year and a half ago, in his own 13th or 14th season (I don’t want to do the math).
By the time the Stormin’ Mormon became a Maverick, he was a shadow of even his own former self. You could tell his confidence was shattered from years of sharing the paint, with the most awkwardness a human athlete could possibly have, with explosive athletic centers and powerful power forwards. He never once attempted a layup if he could instead pirouette away from the basket and try a much more difficult hook shot.
But every now and then---every now and then, SB would line up an actual jumper. Not like Brendan Haywood’s jumpers, which are fast, dumb, but taken mostly in the flow of the offense. SB, because he was always the tallest person by three inches forever, would stand up, and take his time. He would set his feet and slowly roll his arms into position, right above his head. He’d bend his elbow. You’d have gotten up to get a beer and gotten back while this was happening.
Then he would shoot and—a center who once shot 92% from the charity stripe, in 55 games for the Mavericks in ’01-’02—basically always miss.
Dirk Nowitzki’s face-up jumper
Okay, yes, we all love the one-legged Euro leanback. I love it, you love it, there’s no stopping it, it’s basically Liquid Metal asking you if you’ve seen that boy, and that’s it.
But for me, there’s nothing like seeing Dirk single-covered, anywhere on the court within the three-point arc, and just looking at the rim.
He’s going to take that shot, and I know that ball’s going in. You know that ball’s going in. It goes in 100 percent of the time, and everybody buys each other pretzels.
Just that calm certainty of knowing there's just one man between the Dirkinator and the rim, and his arms aren't long enough, couldn't be long enough if they were Gumby's.
Go ahead, post your own!