Note: This graphic apparently comes from a web comic called XKCD. I had no idea; it was simply forwarded to me by a friend. But I've heard that the comic is pretty funny.

Marvin "Bad News" Barnes -- who received his nickname for various off-the-court problems, like (allegedly) attacking Providence teammate Larry Ketvirtis with a tire iron -- was one of the NBA's great wasted talents. Cocaine abuse destroyed his body and cut short what many people thought could have been a Hall of Fame career, and Barnes has since been arrested for trespassing, stealing videotapes from an adult movie store, being under the influence of narcotics, and burglary. The awesomest of his arrests came after he robbed a liquor store in broad daylight while wearing a basketball jersey with his name on the back. Oh yes he did.

But Marvin's greatest sin was his crime against Mighty Science. In 1975, during his rookie year with the ABA's Spirit of Saint Louis, Barnes showed up for a team flight and was told that it was scheduled to leave Louisville at 8 a.m. and land in St. Louis at 7:57 a.m. This, of course, was due to a time zone change, but Barnes couldn't wrap his head around the concept. As he explained to Bob Costas (who at the time was the Spirits' announcer): "I ain't goin' on no time machine. I ain't takin' no flight that takes me back in time." So News rented a car and drove to St. Louis.

Dishonorable mentions

Update! Chris Washburn or Charles Shackleford: I got this reminder from deej: "Hey Basketbawful, you left out the scholarly Chris Washburn and his famous quote 'Yeah, I can go to my right and my left. That's because I'm amphibious.'" Indeed I did, although there seems to be some dispute about whether Washburn or North Carolina State teammate Charles Shackleford said it. Additionally, the statement is sometimes quoted as: "Left hand, right hand it doesn't matter, I'm amphibious."

Jason Kidd: In 1994, during his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks, Kidd was trying to explain that the Mavs were going to improve greatly on the previous season's record of 13-69. At least, I think that's what he was trying to explain. But what he said was: "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."

Dennis Rodman: When asked about chemistry, the Worm said: "Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college when you want to figure out two plus ten or something." Who dresses like a woman and doesn't know a damn thing? This guy!

Doug Collins: Mr. Emotional once said: "Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points, they almost always win." Have I mentioned how glad I am he won't be coaching in Chicago this season?

Update! Drew Gooden: The bearded wonder doesn't know much about geography. He once said that: "I didn't even know Elvis was from Memphis. I thought he was from Tennessee." As if that wasn't bad enough, he also claimed that: "My girlfriend isn't Asian. She's Thai." Tip o' the hat to 80's NBA for the first quote.

Update! Kenyon Martin: Ever wonder why Kenyon is such an, ahem, pleasant guy? Here's why, in his own words: "When I was young, I would just snap. I've come 360 degrees with my temper and my attitude." Yup, that's about right.

Update! Kenyon Martin (again): Did you know that Kenyon used to suffer from a persistent stuttering problem? Well, he did. And, according to him: "Sometimes I still do. I've come 360 degrees, though." That's gruh-gruh-gruh-great, Kenyon!

Update! Kenyon Martin (yet again): Regarding opening the 2001-02 season finally free of the injury and fatigue seasons that had plagued him the previous year, Kenyon said: "Trust me, it's 360 from where it was."

Kobe Bryant: Of course, I can't omit Kobe, who once lamented that: "I've always been an outcast. Since I was a little kid. I was the only black kid in Italy, I was the only Italian kid in America." Aren't there, like, 60 million people in Italy? And aren't there about 300 million people in the United States? I think Mamba needs a lesson in demographics.

Update! Mychal Thompson: Sweet Bells once explained his ability to measure errors in refraction sunny disposition during an NBA summer league broadcast: "I'm an optometrist. I always believe in good -- well you know what I mean. I believe in good stuff."

Shaq: In describing his mammoth intellect, The Big Brain Surgeon once said: "I have a lot of knowledge in my medulla oblongata." I'm sure he probably picked this term up from Water Boy, but for the record, the medulla oblongata is the part of brain that controls autonomic functions like respiration, blood pressure, swallowing, vomiting and (my favorite) defecation. So...was The Big Geritol actually saying he has poop for brains? I'll let you decide for yourself.

Shaq (again): The Big Mathemetist also claimed that: "My game is like the Pythagorean theorem, no one has an answer." But, uhm, there is an answer to that theorem, Mr. O'Neal. Update! Shaq actually used this quote again, revising his original assertion: "There is no answer to the Pythagorean theorem. Well, there is an answer, but by the time you figure it out, I got 40 points, 10 rebounds, and then we're planning for the parade."

Shaq (yet again): And when asked whether he had visited the Parthenon during his visit to Greece, the Deisel fatuously uttered: "I can't really remember the names of the clubs we went to." Update! Loved this comment from Basketbawful reader a: "What he should have said is that other centers are probably like the Quadratic Equation -- nobody remembers them after 2 years! B2+/- Root C2-4AC... aw screw it!"

Tracy McGrady: Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin aren't the only NBA players who have trouble with Euclidean geometry. After signing with the Orlando Magic in 2000, T-Mac said: "[My] career was sputtering until [I] did a 360 and got headed in the right direction." Hm. Could explain all those first round disappointments.

Update! Vlade Divac: I'm sure there's a perfectly sound physiological reason that middle-aged men develop large and rather nasty beer bellies. But Vlade thinks there's also a psychological reason. To wit: "We all get heavier as we get older because there's a lot more information in our heads." Another tip 'o the hat to 80's NBA.

Yogi Berra: Oh, and even though he's not a basketball guy, I can't omit Yogi's celebrated declaration that: "Baseball is 90 percent mental -- the other half is physical." That was almost matched by Mickey Rivers infamous "Pitching is 80 percent of the game. The other half is hitting and fielding" comment.

If you have another example of a basketball player mutilating the sciences, leave a comment or email me directly.

Important Note: In case you're wondering about the 2007-08 Worsties, they got delayed, mostly because they're going to be much longer than I originally anticipated. Expect a multi-part series to start next week.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
"I ain't goin' on no time machine. I ain't takin' no flight that takes me back in time."

Who, in the history of the world, would have thought those words would be uttered.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey Basketbawful, you left out the scholarly Chris Washburn and his famous quote "Yeah, I can go to my right and my left. That's because I'm amphibious."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just realized something, number one, most people who read this don't know your first name.

Number two, that quote above was on the very first post on this website on what hilarious and wonderful things ballers can say.

You forgot a quote that you yourself listed on the website before in 2005. I can't believe it. Sarcasm.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
As much as we all hate Duke, Washburn is a proud NC State alum

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Ok can someone tell me how Shaq's comment about the Parthenon and clubbing in Greece has anything to do with math or science? Also, you had to add a bit of Kobe even though it is obvious he is speaking about his immediate circle and is using hyperbole to add colloquialism. Finally, the amphibious quote is just semantics bro. That's more of a lexical problem than a math or science fuckup. A lot of these things may be funny because they're wrong but clearly have nothing to do with math and science.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dear Basketbawful,

I'm a big fan of your site. You certainly know how to take a lighthearted look at all the stupid shit that goes on in the NBA.

Regarding your Worst Evers: Understanding of Math and Science post, I'd like to contribute an example of NBA idiocy. In an old GQ article, Jayson Williams of the New Jersey Nets relates a story when they were playing against the Timberwolves. Apparently, center Yinka Dare was wondering what the "C" on Christian Laetner's jersey stood for. To which Williams answered "Captain". Dare replied that he thought it stood for "Caucasian". At this point center Benoit Benjamin, laughing at Dare's apparent lack of intellect, pointed out the Caucasian is spelled with a "K".

Hoped you like that.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Nick -- Yeah, I knew that quote appeared in one of my very first posts, but I was much lamer back then and just hoped nobody knew.

anonymous #1 -- Gak! You're right. Fixed.

anonymous #2 -- I see Shaq's statement about the Parthenon to be a mistake of Geography and History. Geography is a science, and my people consider History a social science. I don't think Kobe's statement makes anything obvious. And while of course Washburn/Shackleford's quote is just a simple malapropism, it also shows a lack of knowledge of a biological term...which I find pretty funny.

horacethegrey -- I'm not sure I can shoehorn this into the math/science post, but I will use that story at some point soon.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Charles Barkley deserves to have a quote in an entry like this, and this is the closest math-related one I could find: "I think that the team that wins game five will win the series. Unless we lose game five."

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I remember laughing my ass off at the Shaq comment, but I remembered him as saying ,"I'm like the Pythagorean theorem- can't nobody figure me out!"

LMAO! yeah... C squared, tool.

What he should have said is that other centers are probably like the Quadratic Equation- nobody remembers them after 2 years!

b2+/- Root C2-4AC... aw screw it!

By the way- I have made that "Science" pic my desktop background at work. I can't wait until my boss sees it!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey. Thanks for the reply. And I look forward how you'll use that story, I'm sure it'll be hilarious.

Speaking of funny, when you see Evil Ted, please give him my thanks. If he asks for what, tell him for making me laugh my fucking ass off for the brilliant comment he gave on your post regarding Jerry Buss getting busted with the "escort" in his car. The children are the future indeed. LOL

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
"I have a boom boom boom game. I always go to the first boom. If you take that away, I hit you with the other boom. By that time, I put the big booty on you and you'll be under the basket and it's a dunk, so ... Not too many people that can withstand my boom boom." - Shaq

Well apparently Shaq can't count as he started out with 3 booms and ended with 2. I think he failed to mention that his third boom is to miss free throws when he is hacked.

Blogger KNEE JERK NBA said...
Dunleavy/Sterling's poor understanding of math (and why EB's no longer a Clipper):

"David Falk was asking for $120 million. And he's trying to scorch the earth and saying, if not next year, he'll get $150 million," Dunleavy said. "Well, Mr. Sterling's response was listen, Elton's coming off an Achilles [tendon] surgery and I know he's a great player, but I'm a little reluctant to put that kind of money on the board. Have him play out his contract next year and if he deserves that, I'm more than happy to pay him."

PS Waaaah, you whiny baby.

Blogger Catfish said...
The amphibious comment was made by Charles Shackleford.

Blogger 80's NBA said...
"We all get heavier as we get older because there's a lot more information in our heads."
- Vlade Divac

"I didn't even know Elvis was from Memphis. I thought he was from Tennessee."
- Drew Gooden

from, "1001 Stupid Sports Quotes"

Blogger Cortez said...
The intent of Kobe Bryant's statement was pretty obvious, especially if you know the relative racial & cultural layout of Philly and Italy (which I do).

Anonymous Anonymous said...
“If you go 72-11 and don’t win (the championship), it doesn’t mean anything. Actually it does. It means you’ve cheated and played an extra regular-season game.” - Shaq

Anonymous Anonymous said...
a: The "Science" comic comes from

If you find it entertaining, I encourage you to check out some more; it is an entertaining comic.



This post was humorous; thanks. It appears that angles are a relatively misunderstood concept in the NBA.

It may be courteous (or required; I can't pretend to understand licensing) to cite xkcd for the comic you are using. He has posted more information here:

Thanks for the post.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Hey, this place seems like an unlikely place for science and basketball jokes combined. But I wish you could have cited the source.

Bonus points if you can identify the science in question ;)

Blogger Basketbawful said...
dkh and anacondahl -- Actually, I had no idea where the graphic came from. It was forwarded to me in an email with a bunch of other amusing pictures (fat girls eating cake, demotivational posters, etc.).

If you read this site regularly, you know I am fairly anal about citing my sources. Had I taken it from a site myself, I surely would have included a link or some such thing. I'll go ahead and update the post, though.

Blogger Arichmix said...
Although he qualifies as an announcer/former NBA player/current coach, Doug Collins had a gem:

"Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points they almost always win."

And although I'm sure he was just being confident, T-Mac should understand the concept of it not being over until it is truly over.

"It feels good to finally be in the second round."

After taking the lead 3-1...ended up losing 4-3...oops

Blogger sd said...
In defense of Vlade, his quote wasn't stupid at all- it was intentionally funny, but it loses most of its humor when not in Vlade's original language.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yeah. Vlade's quote is just a Serbian thing. My dad used to say it all the time.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i think you need to see a doctor man... what's wrong with the kobe quote? don't you see what he's saying? grow up man!