As my junior year of high school arrived, I was feeling pretty good about myself. After all, I was now about 65-ish pounds lighter than I had been, I had my driver's licence and -- most importantly -- I had a car. At my school, back in my day, probably only about one out of four students had car. It might have even been fewer than that. So having a car was a very big deal.

Kokomo High School required students to pick up their new books about a week before school actually started. I remember the day I picked up my books very clearly. Unfortunately, the Fury had gobbled up pretty much all of my excess cash. If I'd bothered to open my wallet, it might have screamed in agony. For this reason, I hadn't been able to buy a new wardrobe for school. In other words, I was still wearing my "fat clothes."

I may as well have wrapped myself up in a tarp. I had actually worn my favorite outfit from the year before -- a pair of gray, faded jeans and a white t-shirt with some logo that was popular at the time -- but it looked ridiculous now. And, despite my much-improved situation, I felt just as much of an idiot as I had the previous year.

You know how sometimes when you're out in public, you'll hear people laughing and talking, and paranoia causes you to assume that they're laughing and talking about you? Well, that's how I felt while waiting in that line. I started to sweat. Then I heard words that almost caused an involuntary urine spill: "What a fatass."

Despite the fact that I was now obviously thin -- in point of fact, I was a wee bit too thin and was trying to gain back a few pounds -- I was absolutely certain that "fatass" comment had been aimed at me. I wanted to turn around and scream, "I am not fat anymore!" But somehow I kept myself under control.

Of course, my first thought was: I need to lose more weight. But wait, wasn't I trying to fill out a little more? Then it hit me. It must be the clothes. It had to be the clothes. I wasn't fat, but they made me look fat. That's why somebody had called me a fatass.

Yes, the notion that the "fatass" comment had been directed at someone else never even occurred to me. That's the kind of tunnel vision I was dealing with at the time.

My mom agreed to get me some new clothes. The only shirt I remember specifically was this long-sleeved, button down shirt made out of blue denim. They were extremely popular at the time, and putting it on made me feel like a Grade A beefcake. So much so that -- despite the fact that the temperature was still hovering around 80 degrees -- I wore it on the first day of school.

But that wasn't the only stupid decision I made that day. The previous year, I had developed a mad crush on this girl Maureen W. To this day, I still have no idea why. I had never even spoken to the girl. She had sat three rows in front of me in art class. To my knowledge, she had never uttered a single word in that class the entire year. But I thought she was adorable.

As it happened, Maureen lived down the street from my friend Greg. So, that summer, we had walked by her house countless times. We'd never actually caught a glimpse of this girl who had captured my imagination, but it wasn't due to a lack of stalking.

Anyway, I was so full of piss and vinegar that I was determined to ask Maureen out immediately. My transformation had been so dramatic, so complete, I really believed I had a chance. C'mon: I was not thin and (to my mind) athletic, I was a licensed driver with his own car, and damn it, I was rocking a kickass mullet. How could she say no?

I wasn't sure when I was even going to see I said, we hadn't made an actual audible connection yet. But as pure dumb luck would have it, her locker ended up being in the same hallway as my first period class. So, as I was pacing the hall looking for my usual crew of friends, I passed her. I remember thinking, in these exact words: What tremendous good fortune!

I know. What a nerd, right?

Now, I hadn't planned any of this out in advance. Not that a script would have actually made a difference in the outcome, but I might have looked less silly. Or maybe not. At any rate, I didn't even bother to stop and think this decision through. I walked right up and tapped her on the shoulder.

She turned around without a single flicker of recognition. "Yeah?"

"Hey, Maureen," I muttered. "I was wondering if, uh, you'd like to go out sometime?"

She looked at me like I'd actually just said, "Here! Eat this kitten!" The look had equal parts fear and disgust.

"Uh, no, I don't think so," she replied.

And that, my friends, is what we call a crash and burn.

I went to first period, which happened to be German class. My friends Greg and Dave D. were already there. I slumped down in my seat, a broken, defeated young man.

"Well," I began, "I asked out Maureen."

"How'd it go?" Greg asked.

"Not good," I replied.

"Bummer," Greg said.

And then life went on.

In the long run, getting turned down by Maureen was fine. After all, I had a much bigger crush on my long-term prospect, Cindy. And anyway, at that moment I was more obsessed with playing basketball than dating. I could hardly concentrate on my school work. When I looked out the window into those sunny, late-summer days, the only place I wanted to be was on the court.

I was still spending countless hours shooting around at Boulevard school, but I knew it was time for me to start branching out, playing against actual human beings. That was the next logical step.

But I was afraid.

See, during those solitary hours at the Boulevard court, I could imagine all sorts of things: Taking over games, hitting buzzer-beaters, have one-on-one duels with other great players. In my own basketball fantasies, I would always be The Man. But to play against other people, I risked the humiliation of losing. Maybe even losing badly.

Remember, my weight problems had made me a pariah in gym class. At KHS, juniors and seniors didn't have to take gym anymore. Therefore, I couldn't use gym class as an opportunity to measure my new skills. I had to go out and find competition.

That wasn't hard to do. At the time, Kokomo had two main courts where games were always going on: Highland Park and Forest Park. They were (and, as far as I know, still are) the two biggest public parks in the city. But Kokomo had many other smaller parks, most of which were equipped with a basketball court. Remember, Indiana has long been a hotbed for amateur basketball. A park without a basketball court was considered blasphemy.

I wasn't ready for the big parks yet. The idea of full court five-on-five made me queasy. I needed to ease into this whole "competing against other living, breathing humans" thing. So I began driving around the city, trolling for mini-games to get into. And I was about to learn that there were countless variations of basketball to be played when there was a limited number of available players.

Naturally, shooting games like H-O-R-S-E, 5-3-1, Knock Out and Around the Key were popular, but they were considered warmups for real competition.

As far as "real competition" went, here are the two games I found myself playing most often:


This is the most basic form of basketball. It was also the most gladiatorial in nature. Think Thunderdome here: Two men enter, one man leaves.

The rules generally go like this: Scoring is by 1s (for a standard two-point shot) and 2s (for a three-pointer). Many games go to 11 or 15, although you can agree on any set score before the game begins. I have also played games to 9, 11, 17 and 21. Usually, you need to go ahead by at least two points to win a game, which can lead to "overtime" sessions.

Possessions typically alternate with each scored basket (this is called "loser's out"). A player usually has to dribble the ball back past the three-point line after rebounding an opponent's missed shot. Some people only require taking the ball past the free throw line, which provides for more "fast break" opportunities where you scramble over the charity stripe and then make a mad scramble for the hoop before your opponent can recover.

There's also a rule by which you don't have to take the ball back past the designated line if your opponent shoots an air ball. I tend to avoid that rule.

Players are expected to call their own fouls ("Got it" or "Got one" or "Jesus Christ! That's a foul!"), although opponents will sometimes admit they fouled you (but don't count on that). They'll be very quick to call you for traveling or over the back of course. In some circles, it's considered bad form to call certain types of fouls or violations (such as offensive fouls or palming).

After fouls, turnovers (like traveling), out-of-bounds violations or made baskets, you have to check the ball in at the top of the key. For some players, the checking process is a mind game. Good form dictates that you either hand the ball to the offensive player or pass it directly to his waiting hands. However, some people will either set the ball directly on the ground (so it won't bounce up to the offensive player) or they drop lightly so it won't bounce high, thus forcing the offensive player to bend over to pick it up. This is usually a sign of disrespect and/or an attempt to psyche the offensive player out.

It's a bush league move. But certain players will do it to you every time.

Some people play by "make it, take it" rules, which means that you get the ball back every time you score a basket. I don't particularly like this style, because alternating possessions is a standard part of organized basketball. Plus, it can result in very short and unsatisfying games.


Here's the definition of 21 from Wikipedia:

"Twenty-one" is a game that can be played with two or more players. Each player has their own score, with the winner being the first to reach 21 points. The game begins with one of the players "breaking", which is to shoot one free throw with the ball to determine if he or she starts the game. While all other players can attempt to stop the score, the player who missed the last shot is usually the one "responsible" for playing defense against the next offensive player. However, no player has any teammates at any time in the game. The player with the ball may shoot at any time, and may collect his own rebound and shoot again. On a defensive rebound, the rebounder takes possession and must clear the ball by dribbling it beyond the three-point line before taking a shot.

Whenever a basket is scored, that player receives two points and goes to the free throw line, where each made free throw tacks on another one point to their score. The player is allowed to shoot free throws until he misses, at which point another player must rebound the ball, and the sequence starts again. This game can be played with the concept of tipped shots, where a player tips the ball in the basket off of a rebound of an opposing player's missed shot, the original shooter's score is reset back to zero. The game can also be played with deductions, such as minus one point when a player air-balls a shot or commits a traveling violation. Twenty-one is nearly always played in a half court game.
Now I personally have never played this game where you could continue taking free throws until you missed one. The cap has always been three free throws, and if you make all three, you get to check the ball in and try to score again. I've also played where you can choose to take one three-pointer instead of the three free throws. Hit it, and you get all three points and the ball back.

Speaking of which, this game (unlike one-on-one) uses 2s and 3s. Furthermore, in my experience, you always have to hit 21 exactly. Like hitting a three-pointer when you're at 18 or nailing a free throw when you're at 20. If you go over 21, your score returned to 13, which can be a real bitch in a close game. This leads to lots of fun scenarios. For instance, let's say you hit a two-pointer to put your score to 19. Now imagine you hit the first free throw and now you're at 20. At this point, your opponent might say something like, "Uh oh, lotta pressure on this free throw..."

If you brick it, not only are you stuck at 20, but you're guaranteed to go back to 13 the very next time you score.

Additionally, the tipping rule has some variations. For instance, I used to play with a group of guys who had a "three tips and out" rule. In other words, if your shot was tipped in three times in a single game, you were knocked out and couldn't play again until the next game. These guys also played it so that if you had fewer than 13 points, your score returned to zero on a tip. If you had more than 13 points, your score returned to 13.

21 is a great game to play when you have an odd number of players. However, if you play with more than three or five guys, it can quickly descend into anarchy and I will explain in a future installment.

So these were the games I was now playing. Since I wasn't going to the bigger parks, I wasn't facing off against the best competition. But still, it was the first competition I had ever faced.

Early on, I wasn't really keeping track of whether I won or lost. These were purely experimental ventures. And yet...I was winning my fair share of games. This was in part a reflection of the talent I was facing, in part due to my height an shot selection (primarily inside), and in part because of my discovery of...

Pickup Rule #2: Rebound, rebound, rebound

You know that old saying possession is nine-tenths of the law? Well, in pickup basketball, possession is ten-tenths of the law. Which is, uhm, 100 percent. Of the law. Okay, what I'm getting at is this:

You can't score without the basketball.

I know, I know. That's obvious. And just as obviously, your opponent cannot score without the basketball. You may think it's idiotic to walk through this concept in your mind because it's so freaking "duh!" it hurts, but if you really embrace it, it'll change your game.

Just look at what Rajon Rondo did during the 2010 playoffs. He changed Boston's postseason destiny by going after the basketball. Sure, the Celtics lost the title, but they wouldn't have even been competing for it without Rondo's rebounding.

As obvious as this is, it stunned me -- and, frankly, it still stuns me -- how often pickup ballers just stand and watch the basketball. If you can develop a mentality for aggressively pursuing every rebound, every loose ball, every "50-50"'re going to end up with a lot of extra possessions. And, more than likely, a lot of easy shots.

One of my most successful "plays" was wildly crashing the board after attempting a short jumper. I usually knew where my shot was going and I could run right to the spot I expected it to end up. In a lot of cases, I would simply run past my defender, catch the rebound and lay it back in.

Just as important, if not moreso, is defensive rebounding. Let's face it, pickup ballers are not in the NBA for a reason. Well, they're not in the NBA for many reasons, but the point I'm trying to make is: Pickup shooting percentages tend to be pretty low. That means lots of misses and plenty of rebounding opportunities.

To be successful, you've got to box out. And it's actually pretty easy to do. You don't need to be stronger or taller than your opponent. For the most part, rebounding is about focus and determination. When your opponent goes up for a shot, you absolutely must stay between him and the basket. Stand wide -- legs apart, elbows out -- and try to make physical contact with your opponent so you can a) know where he is and b) keep him from pushing past you.

As the ball's coming back down, time your jump so you can catch the ball at the height of your jump. Mistiming your jump can and will lose you possession of the ball. Go up and grab the ball with both hands. Don't tip it or try to yank down a one-handed board. Yes, it looks impressive, but no matter how good you are, it's going to cost you possessions. Which brings me to the next pickup rule...

Pickup Rule #3: Lost possessions lose games...and earned possessions win them

There are going to be games in which you're hopelessly overmatched. There will be games where you destroy your opponent. But many games -- if not most of them -- will probably be reasonably close. One or two possessions here or there decide the majority of games you'll play in (unless you're awesome...or awful).

For this reason, you can't fuck around. Unless you're working on new moves, taking bad shots or trying things you're not good at will cost you possessions. Taking even one bad shot can cost you a game. So don't do it. Being smarter and maintaining your focus will allow you to beat "better" players.

See, some people just don't go all-out or remain focused for an entire game...even short games to 9 or 11. This happens for various reasons. Sometimes they just don't have the necessary discipline, other times they may be too embarrassed to try so hard you'll realize they care about winning.

Use this against them.

You're not going to steal the ball every time you try to do it. You're not going to block every shot attempt. But you'll accomplish both here and there if you keep focused and work hard from start to finish. Trust me, effort can trump talent. It happens all the time, especially in pickup basketball.

So...I was out there, playing and learning, and becoming reasonably happy with where I was at as a basketball player. And it was time for me to make some loftier goals.

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Blogger Dooj said...
Love these stories. I would add one more reason for people not going all out during pick up games. We're out of shape...

Bawful, are you going to do something for the draft at all?

Blogger chris said...
So, what did Livin' Large Cindy think of your playground/parquet skillz?

Blogger Lord Kerrance said...
The return of Cindy the Woman! It's like a Livin' Large prequel. Will we be seeing Aimee as well?

Anonymous Heretic said...
@ Dooj

Indeed. The first 5 minutes everyone is playing hard, chasing the ball, making a concerted effort to rebound. After those opening minutes though its just wheezing, attempting god awful shots that would make Kobe Bryant blush cause you're too winded to drive to the hoop and looking mournfully as the basketball as it bounces off the rim cause one more rebound attempt will cause you to throw up your liver. We all know how Rasheed Wallace felt in the final game.

Blogger Siddarth Sharma said...
Dang, no Mullet Matt pics?

Ok, that was my last call for pictorial reminders of awkward adolescence. I know I'd burn all my pics from the age between 12-17.

I like this series better than Livin Large. Keep it coming.

Blogger Japes said...
Some excellent rules bawful. My best friend is a brutal athlete but I LOVE playing with him because he chases balls like there's no tomorrow. Okay that sounded bad but you know what I mean. Hustle and effort can overcome talent.

Blogger senormedia said...
Now I personally have never played this game where you could continue taking free throws until you missed one.

This is a bit of a generational thing, I suspect, since the three point line didn't come into the college and HS games until the 80's.

Growing up in NC/TN (70's) shoot-FT-until-you-miss was all we ever did. As a career mid-90's free-thrower, that suited me fine.

It wasn't until the mid 80's when the three-and-back rule started showing up.

Blogger XForce23 said...
The phenomenon of pickup players being lazy always strikes me too (although I am guilty of it from time to time) and it magnifies the success of that 'hustle' or 'energy' player. The type of pickup baller out there who is clearly not as a skilled as everyone else but plays with roughly 5x more effort than everyone else, so he comes out with like 15 offensive boards and 7 steals.

Laziness in pickup games is pretty prevalent; where I play at school the defensive effort by people is better than most but still players take defensive boards for granted which allows for more focused efforts to grab them easily.

And in pickup ball I always found it odd (and slightly annoying sometimes) that many times just by being 6'1 I am delegated to being the big man inside. I find the post to be fun, but sometimes you want to mix it up too.

Blogger ChrisH said...
have you ever played with henry abbot?

Anonymous UpA said...
I'm hoping to see Future NBA B Grade Star showing up as well as Big Mat.

Behold....Mullet Matt...

WV: beerma as in 'ring mo'e beerma!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Love these stories. I would add one more reason for people not going all out during pick up games. We're out of shape...

Hm. Good point.

Bawful, are you going to do something for the draft at all?

My buddy Statbuster usually does a draft writeup. I texted him but havne't heard back yet.

So, what did Livin' Large Cindy think of your playground/parquet skillz?

She was completely uninterested in sports. I don't remember ever talking to her about basketball...although I will probably have to re-tell a basketball-related story that involves her.

The return of Cindy the Woman! It's like a Livin' Large prequel. Will we be seeing Aimee as well?


Dang, no Mullet Matt pics?

I promise to try and dig up some pics this weekend. Really.

This is a bit of a generational thing, I suspect, since the three point line didn't come into the college and HS games until the 80's.

Growing up in NC/TN (70's) shoot-FT-until-you-miss was all we ever did. As a career mid-90's free-thrower, that suited me fine.

It wasn't until the mid 80's when the three-and-back rule started showing up.

Wow, no kidding? Cool...thanks for the info.

My best friend is a brutal athlete but I LOVE playing with him because he chases balls like there's no tomorrow. Okay that sounded bad but you know what I mean. Hustle and effort can overcome talent.

Unintentionally dirty quote machine! But yeah...hustle and effort really can overcome talent. Especially when talent is lazy.

The best thing is, when a talented player has fallen into lazy habits, they often have trouble turning it back on. I see this a lot.

The phenomenon of pickup players being lazy always strikes me too (although I am guilty of it from time to time) and it magnifies the success of that 'hustle' or 'energy' player. The type of pickup baller out there who is clearly not as a skilled as everyone else but plays with roughly 5x more effort than everyone else, so he comes out with like 15 offensive boards and 7 steals.

These guys are great to have on your team, and you hate to see them on the other team. Oh, and most people hate being guarded by the energy/hustle guy...because he's relentless and rarely gives up easy buckets.

WV: beerma as in 'ring mo'e beerma!


I assume everybody recognizes where that's from...

have you ever played with henry abbot?

No, but I want to. He was supposed to be in Chicago for the Blogs with Balls conference but had to cancel at the last minute.

I'm also supposed to hook up with Trey Kirby (who runs Ball Don't Lie for Yahoo! Sports), but he's been ducking me.

Anonymous Ian said...
really Bawful? Make it, Take it is the only way to play 1 on 1. It makes players actually want to defend you.

Anonymous Marc d. said...
Us Canuckians from the frozen wastes of Southern Ontario actually call that version of 21 "American 21", or just "American" for brevity's sake.

Our 21 is pretty different, but shares a few similarities. Instead of it being a 1-1-1 competition, it is more of a shooting game here. Everyone takes turns shooting (no D) and once you rebound a miss you can't dribble the ball, instead you just have to shoot it from wherever you rebounded it (teaches good rebounding instincts, because if you let the ball fly over your head you are left with a shit shot).

In order to ramp up the difficulty, my friends and I came up with a couple variations: In "Quick-release 21" you have to get into your shooting motion as soon as you grab the rebound (no gathering yourself and lining up your shot). In "Jump 21" you have to rebound and then shoot the ball all while in midair.

Combining "Jump 21" with shots after scores taken from the 3 point line instead of the FT line leads to some pretty intense games.

None of this, of course, made me any better of a pick-up baller, but it sure as shit helped out my shot.

Oh yeah, and airball misses can be taken from anywhere, which I personally liked to finish off with a fancy off-the-wall-alley-oop-dunk, followed by a demoralizing staredown.

Good times... good times...

Blogger Will said...
One time in college I was with 5 of my friends and instead of doing the obvious (3v.3) we mixed it up and played 2v2v2 to 33 with the same rules as 21. The only real difference was that 11 and 22 were the cutoffs for point resets.

Anonymous Ian said...
Also I can vouch for what Marc D. said up there, it's how I learnt the game and only played American 21 starting in high school.

I prefer the American version however as the "shoot from where you get the board" concept can lead to some pretty cheap shots where your opponents will purposely make you shoot from far away. This is because if your opponent air balled the shot, you could take your shot from wherever you chose.

Blogger Japes said...
@ Marc d.

We have a variation of 21 that's very similar to yours. Everyone has a turn and they start off by shooting a FT and then grabbing the rebound regardless of whether or not it goes in. You have to grab the rebound before the ball hits the ground twice otherwise you're not allowed to take another shot. Points off rebounds are worth 1 and the FT line is worth 2. If you hit both the FT and the rebound, you get to shoot again. O/W the next person goes And you have to have exactly 21 so if you have 20 and hit a free throw you go back to 1. Also when you hit 20, you have to purposely miss your free throws but it has to hit both backboard and rim for you to get the rebound for the winning score. Very good practice for rebounding instincts, reflexes and shooting.

Blogger Japes said...
Basketbawful said...
These guys are great to have on your team, and you hate to see them on the other team. Oh, and most people hate being guarded by the energy/hustle guy...because he's relentless and rarely gives up easy buckets.

So true! I usually stick the energy guy on the opposing teams scorer and when the scorer does get by, I'm there for help D. Frustrates the hell out of them, hahaha. One thing I noticed is that the rarest skill among pickup ballers is passing! These guys can't properly pass out of a double team if their life depended on it.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
I love that you actually remember your HS rejections in that detail. I can barely remember names, let alone entire conversations I had.

Blogger Unknown said...
Maybe share some actual game experiences or memories? some heroics or embarassing momments?

regarding effort...
I sometimes give lazy effort on offense to keep the game 'interesting', unless the stakes are too high~ (like wait will be long, or im playing in a new place, or trying to make a statement). My lazy effort will keep the game somewhat close, or we would be down couple pts~ and I would go all out near the end~ its actually worked out majority of times, since you have that extra energy too... its just a way to challenge and motivate yourself in a different way...
besides, im not sure how many normal pickup ballers could play 100% for the whole game for multiple games... its tough stuff~ esp on defense. so a lot of us, we have to pick and chose when to go all out~

Another note on energy players is that they are contagious... if you are playing with or against a player that is going all out... its challenging, and it makes you try harder~
but sadly some players only 'turn it up' on offense... forcing horrendous shots...

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Maybe share some actual game experiences or memories? some heroics or embarassing momments?

Oh, that's definitely coming.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
@ Bawful:

Re, getting after the ball in pickup. I cannot emphasize how much I agree, agree, agree. I am known as a solid guy to play with on pickup almost primarily because of my work on the boards. I am considered some sort of rebounding demon. Why? Because I:

a) Box out

b) Hustle for rebounds/loose balls.

Uhh.. as you can see, neither a + b require any amount of skill. They just require effort and a little basketball IQ. These are qualities which an abundance of pickup ballers lack, in abundance.

Now, it helps that I am fairly athletic for the games I play in. Almost 6' with pretty good leaping ability, and quicker than a lot of the plodding big guys.

But 90% of rebounding comes down to effort, effort, effort. And expending that effort makes you a valued teammate. You limit the other team to one shot by grabbing the board, and you gain your extra, extremely valuable possessions. There was one sequence playing pickup recently where I literally grabbed 7 offensive rebounds on the SAME PLAY. Our team finally scored and went on to win.

Even though my outside shot is sometimes.. well, Rondo-esque, I'm always able to find games with good, smart players. Why? Because those guys appreciate the dirty work that I do on the boards.

Anyways, excellent writing as always. I look forward to reading about the evolution of Matt McHale, pickup legend.

Blogger chris said...
A photoshopped version of your too-large clothes needs to show up here some time soon...

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
I can't believe I'm the first to mention this, but aside from another great installment and little jokes here and there, I especially enjoyed the use of Rajon Rondo as your rebounding example, even though Kobe went to 11 rebs in Game 6 and 15 in Game 7.

I will now go wash out my mouth with hydrochloric acid. [/Simmons]

P.S.: Planning a side-by-side timeline of Livin' Large and Pickup Diaries, probably shared by the power of Google Documents.
P.S.S.: Also planning a June 30th Free Agency article, since I hate researching and preparing for drafts which are a crap-shoot anyways. I guess I'll drop by if Minnesota somehow takes another 1st round PG.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
Your 1 on 1 description was spot on, although I usually play make-it-take it and also the airball = no take back rule. Its just how people do it around here

Anonymous BigBadCarter said...
Oh holy crap man...I remember wondering WHY when you wanted to go downtown for something you always insisted on parking at my parents I remember...Maureen lived halfway between my parents and downtown.

Spent most of my youth walking or riding my bike around town...and now that we had wanted to walk. Yeesh!!!

Good times bro, good times!

Anonymous Marc d. said...

We had similar rules if you are at the FT line with 20 points, but instead of having to hit both rim and backboard, you had to hit just backboard, no rim, otherwise you go back to 11.

It left the player at the line with 20 in an interesting dilemma: do I ream it off the backboard in order to give the next player a terrible shot and risk going back to 11 or do I play it safe and put it up soft?

Blogger Japes said...
I'm sure most of you guys already know this.

Fantasizing about the potential Bulls starting lineup:

Rose, Deng, LeBron, Bosh, Noah


Anonymous Sorbo said...
If you ever go back to your posts about your NBA Live team, you may need to pick up NBA Elite first and do it with that. One step closer to matching actually basketball moves in a game:;title;2

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Japes - There's no way. Without unloading Gilbert somehow, and with John Wall looming, that has to be the worst possible pickup and use of cap-space for the Wiz.

Anonymous Heretic said...
Hmmm it seems that wizards have added Heinrich to their roster. I'm guessing their strategy is to have all 5 starters as point guards, no one will see it coming!

Anonymous Heretic said...
@ japes

Of course the flip side is that the bulls land none of the top guys and in desperation, pay 80 mil to Joe Johnson to stink up the joint. Its called the Elton Brand move.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
Rose, Deng, LeBron, Bosh, Noah


I assume they'll pick up an aging role player, but who comes off the bench on that team? Orlando can still challenge and beat this starting five (even with Carter).

My buddy and I were talking about how we're not sold on Bosh at all. When he comes out and says that he's waiting for Lebron to make a decision, he's basically saying that teams can't be built around him. Sounds like a second-banana at best. Plus, doesn't Dwight dominate him on a regular basis? Based on his size alone, Dwight can put up 25 to 30 points on Noah and Bosh even with his horrible post game. My fear is that Bosh is more Jermaine the Drain than the younger version of KG.

Anonymous msk said...
Couldn't agree more on the hustle and rebounding thing. I can't say I never played lazy, but most of the time, I used to frustrate the shit out of people by playing real D and rebounding like mad, even though I was always the smallest guy (I'm only 5'6" now, and as a school age kid was even shorter).

I think both make it, take it and loser's out have their merits. Depends on how even the two players are (in terms of skill, talent, size) whether the game will be more satisfying with one or the other.

As a kid, I guess most of the courts I played on didn't have 3 point lines (also, I did a lot of playing in driveways and backyards), because we had no 3-point shots in games or 21. And no limit on FT shots in 21 - you could ace a game if you were a great FT shooter.

Great series already - many thanks.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...

Well to a certain extent this makes Bosh damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. If he says he wants a team built around him, then he's seen as an arrogant delusional idiot, as he lacks the fire and HOF-skills to be a true team anchor. I wouldn't saw bawful has said such things but it is pointed out on this blog that he is NOT a top-line player on the lines of Kobe, LeBron and D-Wade, and I agree.

If on the other hand he defers, then he's seen as a second banana, someone who lacks fire and the desire to lead a team and blah blah blah.

You know what? There's nothing wrong with being a second banana. Bosh is obviously a top-3 PF in the L. You put him on a lot of teams, they go from being also-rans to serious title contenders. Furthermore, he's not a wing and can't create off the dribble. There's nothing wrong with that, but he can't create his own shot at the end of the game in crunch time. You need a talented wing to pair with him.

I think if CB4 has a brain he ends up in Chicago, where Rose is slashing, creating and feeding him the ball, and Noah can guard the 5's and do all the dirty work.

Anyways I'm just blathering because it's my last day of work at this job ever and I've had two cans of beer (because it's my last day and we're in Toronto and no one's here because of the G20) and it's time to go home.

Blogger Japes said...

Trust me, I live in Toronto and am a Craptors fan. I know for a fact that Bosh CANNOT carry a team. He doesn't have a post game and settles for jumpers 80% of the time. That's why I'm not that sad to see him go, we weren't going anywhere with him here anyways.

One thing he does have is a wicked first step. No PF can stay in front of him so smart teams will put a SF on him and make him settle for jumpers. There was a game where SVG was dumb enough to have Howard guard him and he went off for like 42 points. But in the playoffs, he figured out that all he had to do was put Shard in front of him and he got shut down.

So yes he definitely needs to go to a team with another superstar to realize his destiny as a second banana.

Anonymous Bryan said...
Im aware bawful isnt really doing any draft coverage right now but nbatv replayed the '03 draft earlier today and it was interesting. Watching it i found it hilarious when Jay Bilas said of Darko, "If it wasnt for Lebron James Darko would be #1 for this draft and the previous 10. He's that good." I will never again listen to any more draft coverage.

Anonymous dominikson said...
I'm not proud to say that i hate one other type of a PickupBall player. The one who runs like hell for the fastbreak as soon as the ball goes out of the opposing shooter's hand. I go for offensive rebounds like 70% of the time (post player 6'4, not the running type :)), so most of the time i end up looking at a lost basket from the midcourt line. That just kills a game if it happens on 1/3 possesions (lazy ass guards;)). On the other hand, i love to rebound on d and throw a long pass to that guy :)

Blogger Japes said...
@The Other Chris

If I had a beer everytime Bosh took a jumper during a crucial possession, I'd always be drunk watching Raptors games. The raps aren't going anywhere with him but we're going to be MUCH MUCH worse without him. Looking forward to seeing the Craptors often in WOTN posts next year, haha.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
For the record, Bosh's quote was that he's NOT waiting for LeBron to make a decision and that he thinks HE'S the kind of player you build a team around. Just FYI.

Blogger 80's NBA said...
There's a brutal version of "21" my brother and his friend invented. It is best with only 3 players (because of the chaos factor).

If the player on offense misses his shot, he can do a put-back if he gets his own rebound, but if one of the defenders gets the rebound, he must take it to the other end.

That's right - Full Court "21". It's brutal, but it does get you in shape, and it gives you shooting practice with Fourth Quarter Legs (shooting when you are tired).

Anonymous Sorbo said...
@The Other Chris.

I completley agree with you. There's nothing wrong with being a second banana. Pau Gasol thrives in that position. I just worry about people overhyping Bosh (and Bosh overhyping himself). I don't get to watch Toronto games regularly, but what I've seen of him doesn't scream "elite" player. He seems like a very capable player, but he reminds me a lot of a young Jermaine O'neil. A guy who can score and rebound, but has a tough time against traditional centers and PFs. Unfortunately, I have to go off of mostly stats to fill in the blanks.

Here's what I know: He's had one team with a record that was over .500 (47-35), and that came during the Leastern Conference Days. He played 43 minutes during Kobe's 81-point game. He's played with one other all-star, and that was Vince.

I worry that fans, even those thinking he's a great second banana, are putting too much stock in him. He's like Karl Malone: gets 20-10 but fades in big moments. Although if he does live up to the hype, I imagine he'd be fun to watch with Lebron feeding him.

Your CP4 idea in Chicago sounds better than Lebron on that team. For some reason, I don't like the Rose/Lebron combo. Maybe I'm just partial to there being one system built entirely for Lebron, and that's the seven-seconds-or-less system. He's just built to play PG in that system (or any system where he runs the fast break). It would be like the Showtime Lakers all over again.

Blogger chris said...
Okay, we need an (AnacondaHL-supplied) actress analogy for Maureen. :D

Japes: Looking forward to seeing the Craptors often in WOTN posts next year, haha.

hopefully accompanied by this perennial video:

CAPTCHA: cater, as in "Jeff Van Gundy would not cater to Pat Riley's demands for a 'Face/Off' style transplant during the 2005-06 Association season."

Anonymous The Other Chris said...

Spot on, I agree with everything you said. He's not an "elite" player, and he does fade in big moments. You need to pair him with a stud like Rose, Wade, or LeBron to create at the end of the game. That's my perception, anyways.

I will give CB4 this: He has improved every year, at times markedly. Does he have that much more of a ceiling? Well, a lot of people - myself included - think not. I guess we'll see.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
@Basketbawful, I'm sorry, you're right, he did say that he wanted to be The Man, but he also said this:

"Am I waiting on LeBron? Pretty much. I think everyone has to. I have to as well."

And this: "They'll probably call him at 12:01. Hopefully they'll call me at 12:02."

And this: "I can kind of sit back and see what's going to happen and see what decision or what way guys are going to go. So when they do make that move or whatever, I can look at things better."

(all quotes from espn story). I might be wrong, and it might not be a confidence thing with him. He might just be cautious; he might just be waiting to follow Lebron; or he might wait to see how much he can make after the other guys sign. In any case, the quotes make him appear to be a passive guy.

Anonymous Sorbo said...
Basketbawful, I feel like there's going to be a solid section on how not to act when playing pick-up ball. (Probably part of The Rules). I'm eagerly anticipating some of the shennanigans and crap you've seen guys pull, as I bet there are many guys on here who have great weird moments to share during their own pick-up days.

Blogger Unknown said...
Sorry, one last note. Loved playing Lightning (or Knock Out) growing up. Nothing funner than seeing a line of 10to 12 kids playing that game. Best parts of Knock Out:

-the line becomes more bent than straight, as every kid tries to see what's going on.
-someone misses and the rebound is long, causing a desperation heave by the kid about to be knocked out (sometimes it went in!)
-player 1 punching player 2's ball out of the hoop in order to prevent from being knocked out. We had a rule where you could only touch/hit someone else's ball only when it was on the rim.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Tons o' booing already for Il Stern.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
I don't believe it. Minny actually resisted drafting a PG or Fat Cousins.

Anonymous Heretic said...
Well, Bosh is serious, he just cut off his locks. That's the NBA equivalent of a viking burning his own boat.,251011

Blogger Unknown said...
I like how Minny's list of past drafts basically read like a who's who of productive guards: Roy, Mayo, and Lawson. Unfortunately, Minny traded them all away.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Aminu just told me he has a large sum of money hey is trying to bring into the country, and if I pay the processing fees I can obtain 10% of his vast family wealth. I'm thinking about paying it if I can get David Stern to attempt pronouncing his name at will.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Gordon Hayward to the Jazz, "not a super athlete, but is athletic". Also is white. Thanks Bilas!

Blogger Unknown said...
Utah picks Gordon the sky falling? Pigs, you can now fly.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Biggest draft shock of the night: the Pacers leave a perfectly eligible white guy Cole Aldrich in the field. Paul George, however, does seem like the smoothest talker drafted so far.

Blogger Unknown said...
Utah may need to trade for Hansboro if they want any size.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Sorbo -- My bad. I hadn't read Bosh's latest comments.

Blogger Unknown said...
Bawful - No worries, I had a feeling you hadn't read Bosh's latest comments. I apologize too. Reading my comment back, I may have come off like an ass.

Did Sterling die? Because it almost seems like the Clippers know what they're doing with this draft. Looks like Davis is on the block or at least not seeing a contract extension anytime soon.

Random Sterling story: My old boss was a bartender at a fancy Orange County hotel and once served Sterling. My boss didn't want to say "you're teams always suck" so instead he asked Donald why he can never hold on to good players and why all Clipper rookies play better elsewhere. Donald's reply was that rookies were cheap and that he didn't really care about paying players more money, because the Clippers were always profitable whether they won or not (check out his lease deals with the Forum/Staples. The man's right). He attributed their better play elsewhere to them being too young when they were Clips. What an owner! Looks like he's going back to that strategy. Prepare for another awesome, young Clippers team that gets dismantled before they all turn 25.

Anonymous Ian said...
As a proud Canuck, my favorite moment so far is Andy Rautins getting drafted by the Knicks, hell he stands to even make that team with his soft shooting touch.

Also I like the Lance Stephenson pick by the Pacers, yeah he might be a headcase but not to the point of getting in brawls with the fans. To add, he can definitely ball and I think he is better than what he displayed at Cinnci

Blogger chris said...
Sorbo: So who's the next Candyman (not the Olowokandi type, but Lamar Kardashian) in this era of Clips basketball!?!??!

Blogger Unknown said...
Drew Gooden. He just looks like a candy eater.

I'm just going to empty my Clip stories while I can. I may have mentioned it before, but when I worked as a bellboy for Hilton, I saw Lamar walk in with two smoking hot women at noon then bail two hours later by himself. Make fun of his candy eating, but that instance alone might have made his Clipper career worth it.

At the time, he was in his early 20s, playing basketball for a living, smoking weed, and banging hot women. Meanwhile, I'm slinging bags for minimum wage plus tips. Needless to say, I stopped making fun of him after that day.

Anonymous MJ said...
Basketbawful, thought you might like to hear this gregarious manlove from new Thunder centre Cole Aldritch:

Cole Aldrich may be switching caps soon and filling the much-needed center position for the Thunder.
Thunder building presence in paint with draft night moves

Posted Jun 25 2010 12:59AM

NEW YORK -- On a night with few deviations from the script, with the top nine picks in the draft rattling off as projected Thursday night and no real tremors the entire first round, suddenly there was Cole Aldrich popping out a front tooth.

Hello, deviation.

It was for comic relief, and for the people of Oklahoma City. That wasn't the intention, but the visual aid was definitely a visual aid to accent the verbal statement that Aldrich will bring an interior toughness to the Thunder in a declaration of another kind from Madison Square Garden: The team that won 50 games and tied for the sixth-best record in the Western Conference despite a youthful roster and a young coach in his first full season made a major move to address its weakest position.

Aldrich officially went 11th to the Hornets, late in the lottery as expected, but New Orleans and Oklahoma City had a trade in place that would send the Kansas center and Morris Peterson to the Ford Center for the 21st (Craig Brackins) and 26th (Quincy Pondexter) selections. The deal had not been announced by late into the night, but it had been widely reported. Still, Aldrich kept wearing the Hornets cap he had been given at the time of the selection, waiting for definitive word and doing his diplomatic best to speak about fitting into either situation.

"If I stay in New Orleans or if I go to Oklahoma City, the need for a big guy is great," he said. "I'm not going to try to go in and do spectacular things, only the things that I'm good at. I'm good at rebounding and defending and blocking shots, and that's how I'm going to make my presence on the court early, by doing those things. I'm definitely working hard on my offensive game, too."

The Thunder are built on a foundation of grit and defense, for all the attention that goes to the pyrotechnic offensive game of scoring champion Kevin Durant and rising star Russell Westbrook. Bonus points for any new arrival who dedicates themselves to rebounding and shot blocking, worth an especially warm embrace from fans who would have welcomed him anyway just because he plays for the new favorite sons of the city. This is just what people there -- the team and the passionate backers -- want.

They had Nenad Krstic at center last season and appreciated the effort, loved the contribution and praised the attention to detail that didn't make the stat sheet. But no one considered him the long-term starter. Everyone knew the Thunder would have to upgrade as part of the growth spurt from playoff team to serious conference contender.

"I'm kind of a unique big guy who loves to go and bang other big guys and kind of do the dirty work," the gregarious Aldrich said. "You know, I could really do that well, and I'm just going to continue to work out there."

Found it here as well for verification if you want/need:

Much love man for everything you do here

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
"I'm kind of a unique big guy who loves to go and bang other big guys"

No no, that's not unique, they'll a bunch of guys like you in Toronto for Pride next week....

Anonymous jbodi92 said...
why did the knicks take Andy Rautins SG, Landry Fields SF
They need african americans. I dont mean to be racist but currently the african american style of basketball dominates the nba except for the few white players who can shoot very well or pass. There are no great white shot blockers dunkers or slashers. (the roles that make the nba fun).
I think the knicks should have taken Lance Stephenson and Jerome Jordan. They are very athletic and have huge upside.

Blogger Unknown said...
@jbodi92. Nothing to do with race. New York took a Syracuse guy with Rautins, and I thought Spurs drafted Fields. If he was traded to the Knicks, probably was a trade for cap considerations.

Doesn't matter, not sure either makes it in the league with this weak draft.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
MJ - In addition, more "NBA + Twitter = amazing" evidence:

Kevin Durant, on OKC's draft: "Excited about the new guys we got...I think the rook @colea45 is gonna be n charge of gettin food for everybody on the team plane!!"

Blogger K.A. said...
Ive played only one place where they shoot free throws til u miss in 21. The kids were half my age n more athletic so i was like 'r u guys sure' n kids were like 'yeah sure pops'. So i got into a stretch of 12-15 consecutive FTs to the point the kids were laughing at themselves for conceding to their own rule. I gave them a gimme tho by shooting my would be last shot a lefty which rattled out :)

Anonymous Heretic said...
I'd hate to be a Cavs fan right now:;_ylt=An9saZncQYbUqcYX7qMsAJa8vLYF?slug=aw-lebronfreeagent062510

Word verification: fabjerse, as in the gay guy said "Sweety you're sporting a fabjerse"

Blogger Unknown said...
I just had a horrible thought. After Lebron and Bosh go to Chicago, the Clippers are going to be the ones dumb enough to overpay for Joe Johnson. Ugh. I hate free agency. Talking about it makes me think of all the bad decisions that are about to happen.

Blogger Dooj said...
No pickup diary today?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
No pickup diary today?

Statbuster is doing his annual post-draft article, so I didn't finish the next Pickup Diaries post. I see Statbuster's article is still in draft status, so he apparently is still working on it...

Blogger The Sweetness said...
Cole Aldrich, already a quote machine: "I'm kind of a unique big guy who loves to go and bang other big guys and kind of do the dirty work..."

Glad to have him on the team.

Anonymous Heretic said...
@ Sorbo

NY could go that route if they don't get an A list player. I'm imagining GMs all over the league that don't get superstars saying "WTF are we gonna do with all this cap space now?!?!" and grossly over paying for sub-par players.

I know its impossible but i'd love to see Chris Paul play for the Lakers. If Mitch could pull off another Gasol like trade for CP3 he would be a god.

Blogger chris said...
Heretic: The tradition of cap-space-laden teams throwing money at bad something the Player's Association must adore and is probably encouraging behind the scenes!

Blogger Unknown said...
@Heretic. Someone was predicting Joe Johnson and Amar''''''''e in New York. That might produce an fail nearing Isiah proportions. If those two are taken, does the crowd just chant "Defense!" for an entire game out of frustration?

I feel bad about New Orleans basketball. The Hornets are pretty screwed. Keep Paul and you have too much in salaries and probably fold within three years. Trade Paul and you might lose the few ticket holders you had, causing you to fold. Maybe taking on $30M a year for Posey, Okafor, and Stojakovic wasn't the greatest plan. Okafor alone makes $12M a year or more for the next four years. Holy shit.

I was going to write about some Paul scenarios with any team, and immediately knew it would be a 50,000-word essay. There is just way too many question marks this year, it's just so hard to speculate unless it's very, very specific and mildly legit. (Like Redick or Salmons landing in Boston.)

Random note: this is going to sound crazy, but Miami has committed $0 to the 2011/2012 season.

Anonymous Heretic said...
@ chris

Indeed, the 2010/2011 season is just going to be full of overpaid guys whose stats in no way match the amount of moolah they're making. It'll be a bawful paradise.

@ Sorbo

I would pay to watch Joe Johnson and Amare a race to show who will under perform first. My money is on Amare, he hasn't let me down yet. Any thoughts on where boozer will land?

Paul is such an awesome PG, I hate to see him shackled to a horrific team like the hornets. Stojakovic is the biggest waste of money on that team, a three point shooter who stopped making threes a long time ago.

Anonymous ivn said...
@Sorbo: the Hornets' situation is that bad? maybe they can come to Seattle. Shinn can't be THAT bad of owner after living through Schultz and Bennett.

Blogger chris said...
ivn: Schinn of course is the primary reason the Hornets left Charlotte in the first place.

Heretic: And then...if the predicted lockout happens...basically, the big-cap-space teams are looking right now to create their own one-and-done squad (cue up the 1983 Sixers) for the one opportunity they have before the salary structure changes forever.

Blogger Unknown said...
@ivn. I wish we could revive the Sonics. Awesome fans in an awesome city. Why are most of the good bball fans not in California? Must be the fair weather. Yuck-yuck, wakka-wakka.

West and Paul are the only pieces of New Orleans anyone wants, and losing them basically means your rebuilding for the next five years (a bad idea with the Saints ruling the city for the foreseeable future).

For any other player not named Collins, their contracts are too high for any team to want. Stojakovich might be considered for contract-dumping teams next year, but the Hornets don't want to take on anymore $12M contracts for him.

Here's all anyone needs to know though: when a team is even remotely considering trading a great player like Paul for a good to average player, you know something bad is going on. Dammit, I was trying to avoid the 50,000 word essay on Paul trade scenarios.

Anonymous Karc said...
Remember when there was a large panic a few years ago about all of the bees dying? I imagine that would have happened again if Chris Paul left the Hornets.

But New Orleans just won the Super Bowl. And the water is covered with oil. Sadly, this collapse is waaaay down the list.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I'm glad AnacondaHL noticed how key Kobe's boards were in The Finals, even though he generally got mocked round here for his Game 7 performance. He may not have shot well in that game (nobody did in that game really), but he did finish with 15 boards, and as Mr. Bawful said, you can't score if you don't have the ball. His 15 boards (and Gasol's 18) are huge reasons LA won it all, just as KG's measely 3 boards were a big reason Boston lost.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Yams - To be fair, I noticed because I thought to myself "wow, why does it feel pretty natural to see Kobe get 15 rebounds, but it would be an outstanding show of effort and amazement if Amar'e did it? *precognitive barf toward the team that signs him for max*"

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Kobe got so many rebounds because he played 10 feet off of Rajon Rondo at all times.

It's still an accomplishment but it should be reviewed with that in mind.

Anonymous Cetti said...
was kobes rebounding really a case of effort and determination? i remember quite a few rebounds which really just fell into his arms while standing way off the rim. don't know, but while watching the game i didn't feel any "hustle".

Anonymous Cetti said...
was kobes rebounding really a result of effort and determination? during the game I just felt like 6 or 7 of those rebounds fell into his arms while standing way off the rim.

Anonymous Miles said...
Just had to weigh in. Lul'd that you were from Kokomo.

I try my darndest to forget most of my high school experience, but my sports teams did play yours regularly. Richmond Red Devils.

Small world after all, or some shit. For like the 5489354323th time, so happy I found your blog this past season.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
As Mr. Bawful has said many times, rebounding is about effort and hustle, cause nobody gets that many boards by luck alone. Even if Kobe got 6 or 7 due to luck, that still leaves 8 or 9 he hustled for. Nevertheless, it wasn't just Game 7, Kobe averaged 8 boards per game in The Finals, which was second most of every player for both teams (Gasol was first); and this was in a series in which the team that won the rebounding battle won every game.

It's not popular to say Kobe didn't choke in Game 7, but those 15 boards he had were absolutely huge in that game, and that's the truth.

Anonymous bob sacamano said...
"make it take it", or as its called by everyone i know, "winners out", is the main way pickup ball is played here (australia), unless the game is full-court (which doesn't happen that often due to a lack of courts in most places). most of the time i get to play its 1-on-1, 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 half-court, and then its ALWAYS winners out.

Anonymous Doug said...
Great series once again.

One minor quibble, though. When it comes to 21 or 1v1, aggressively and repeatedly crashing the boards for offensive rebounds is definitely considered bad form.