The Man (thuh man) noun. The best player and/or undisputed leader of a particular team, division, conference, and/or the entire league.
Usage example: Tim Duncan is The Man in San Antonio. And pretty much everywhere else, too.
Word History: The term "The Man" originated in America around 1918 as a code word for a prison warden. Over the years, The Man has come to represent the government, leaders of large corporations, and other authority figures in general (such as the police). The Man is colloquially defined as the figurative person who controls the world. The Man is also often used as a symbol of racial oppression, as well as the boss of a blue-collar worker, and the enemy of any counterculture.
Within the world of professional sports, The Man refers to the player or players who are renowned and feared above all others. Every team has it's own The Man, and most leagues have a chosen handful of players who are the subject of "Who's The Man" discussions. In the NFL, for instance, there has been a nearly continuous "Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady" debate over the last five years or so. In the NBA, The Man candidates range from Tim Duncan (The Lord of the Rings), Kobe Bryant (the scoring machine), Steve Nash (the ultimate teammate), and Lebron James (the possible heir to the throne).
The Man Test: Do you think your favorite player might be The Man but aren't totally sure? We at Basketbawful have used the power of Mighty Science to create an infallible test that's guaranteed to tell you whether that player is indeed The Man, a strong up-and-comer, or simply a woman with unsightly facial hair. If you doubt the accuracy of this test, you obviously know nothing about basketballogy, and probably couldn't calculate your way out of a bucket full of Science.
Worth 1 point: Have you...
Scored 50 points in a single game?
Grabbed 20 rebounds in a single game?
Dished 20 assists in a single game?
Averaged at least 20 PPG, 10 RPG, or 8 APG for one season?
Lead your team in scoring, rebounds, and/or assists for one season?
Hit one game-winning shot during the regular season?
Been an All-Star reserve?
Been named to the All-NBA Third Team?
Punched a teammate during practice?
Signed a dubious, non-shoe-related endorsement deal (e.g., Icy Hot, Payday Loans, etc.)?
Appeared in a basketball-themed movie (e.g., Space Jam, He Got Game)?
Appeared on the cover of your team’s media guide?
Been featured on an Episode of NBA Inside Stuff?
Been anointed "The Next Michael Jordan"?
Been called a "future Hall of Famer" by a questionable source (e.g., Bill Walton, Magic Johnson)?
Received a low-end shoe endorsement (e.g., L.A. Gear, Fila)?
Released a rap album and/or video?
Worth 2 Points: Have you...
Scored 50 points in a game more than once?
Grabbed 20 rebounds in a game more than once?
Dished 20 assists in a game more than once?
Averaged at least 30 PPG, 13 RPG, or 10 APG for one season?
Averaged a double-double?
Lead your team in scoring, rebounds, or assists for multiple seasons?
Lead the league in scoring, rebounds, or assists for one season?
Hit multiple game-winning shots during the regular season?
Been an All-Star starter?
Been named to the All-NBA Second Team?
Signed a max contract worth at least $50 million?
Gotten a teammate traded?
Been mentioned on "Pardon The Interruption"?
Been featured on a bobble-head doll?
Had your jersey appear in the video of a prominent rap artist?
Dated a recognizable model or actress?
Worth 3 points: Have you...
Lead the league in scoring, rebounds, or assists for multiple seasons?
Averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds or assists?
Hit one game-winning shot in the playoffs?
Been on multiple All-Star Teams?
Been the All-Star Game MVP?
Been named to the All-Defensive First Team?
Been named to the All-NBA First Team?
Signed a max contract worth at least $100 million?
Gotten an all-star teammate traded?
Gotten a coach fired?
Regularly referred to yourself in the third person?
Appeared in a pregame promo (coming off the team bus, shooting around, etc.)?
Appeared on the cover of NBA 2K?
Appeared on the cover of ESPN the Magazine?
Received a high-end shoe endorsement (e.g., Nike, Reebok)?
Guaranteed a championship or deep playoff run despite the fact that your team sucks?
Been mentioned in the song of a prominent rap artist?
Been "rested" at the end of the regular season?
Worth 4 points: Have you...
Been a 50 / 40 / 90 guy (50 percent FG shooting, 40 percent 3P shooting, and 90 percent FT shooting)?
Been on multiple All-Defensive Teams (first or second)?
Been on multiple All-NBA Teams (first, second, or third)?
Been Defensive Player of the Year?
Been Finals MVP?
Been the regular season MVP?
Signed multiple $100 million contracts?
Gotten a superstar teammate traded?
Gotten a great coach fired?
Appeared in the video of a prominent rap artist?
Been "rested" during the regular season (e.g., Shaq)?
Worth 5 points: Have you...
Been Defensive Player of the Year more than once?
Been Finals MVP more than once?
Been the regular season MVP more than once?
Hosted Saturday Night Live?
Appeared on the cover of NBA Live?
Appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated?
Gotten a legendary teammate traded?
Gotten a legendary coach fired?
Been the subject of a "Why hasn’t he won the MVP?" discussion?
Been called a "future Hall of Famer" by a well-regarded source (e.g., Steve Kerr, Dr. Jack Ramsey)?
Forced your team to trade you for little or no reasonable return (effectively crippling your former team for years to come)?
Driven your GM / team owner to alcoholism (e.g., Jerry Buss)?
Worth 350 Points: Have you...
Created and maintained an independent blog about the best of the worst of professional basketball?
Scoring ranges: Now that you've calculated the numeric value of your player's accomplishment(s), compare his total to the following scoring ranges to determine his relative manitude:
0 - 49 Points: Are you kidding me? Any player that falls within this range is not The Man. He might not even be "a" man. A comprehensive medical examination would likely uncover girl parts under his compression shorts.
50 - 99 Points: This player definitely has a Y chromosome and a faint, musky aroma. However, his voice still cracks from time to time, and his balls haven't dropped yet. The main cause of his undescended testicles may be due to repeated playoff failures or the presence of a bigger, badder, Alpha-er male. The Boy? Yes. The Man? No.
100 - 149 Points: You know how they say "Every high-powered CEO was once a hard-working mailroom clerk who had to murder his way to the top"? Well, they say it, okay? And your player is that serial-killing clerk, cutting a swath through the league and challenging the gods. He's the young Turk on the verge of manhood. Not quite The Man yet, more like The Muhhhhhh....
150 - 210 Points: Is this player The Man? Yes, ye gods, yes! People drop to their knees and spontaneously combust when he walks by. Tiny universes are created each time he flexes his manly pecs. Instead of a single penis, he has an entire bushel of peni that can be launched like missles at hostile countries. A single drop of his sweat can spawn a full-grown leprechaun in under six seconds. What I'm trying to say is: No human words can describe the utter manliness of this man among men. Praise his name, mortal fool!