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Archive for the ‘ General NBA News ’ Category

I thought I had pretty much poured out my soul this week on the topic of female NBA fans. And then someone pointed me in the direction of the “Body Shots” contest the Memphis Grizzlies official site was running this week in advance of the NBA Dance Bracket. I’m really glad they did. Let me tell you what this “contest” is. It’s this:

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Relearning How to Be A Basketball Fan

By on January 21, 2010

Basketball is a game of passion.  Of swings.  Of runs.  Of jumping onto your feet and screaming at the top of your lungs with eighteen thousand people and clapping excitedly under the thud-thud-thud of arena loudspeakers.  It’s easy to get swept up in being a fan, in celebrating every basket and barking at every bad call.  But it’s too much.  The swings are too high-low and the runs too inevitable.  To get personally involved in each ebb and flow only leads to blown blood vessels and broken remote controls bounced off carpet too close to innocent bystanders.

Picture by Layne Murdoch, Getty ImagesIt’s easy to enjoy the game when CP3 and DX are hitting shots at will, kicking it out to Peja and MoPete for 3 after 3 like a torrential downpour, and all residual possessions are alley oops to Tyson Chandler.  It’s easy to be a fan when you break the franchise record for wins in a season and are a few whistles away from the Western Conference Finals.  It gets a little harder when injuries flare up and the wins don’t come quite so easily, when your big free agent acquisition isn’t really the “final piece,” your bench implodes and collapses into an abyss of statistical hell, and Championship dreams fall flat.  It’s even harder when you start the next season 3-9 and start wondering what happened to all the big easy buckets and blowout wins.  Suddenly, the trolls have crawled out from under their bridges and are out telling you how your team sucks, and even people on your own boards and blogs are calling to blow it all up.  As if that would make your team any better.

This is what tests your fandom and reminds you that basketball is a hard fought game where nothing comes easy.  This is what tells you you need to relearn how to watch basketball.  How many adverse runs have I watched from the couch and told ticktock6 to calm down, this is a game of runs?  Easy to preach, but putting it into practice comes harder.  For sure, this season, more than any other in recent years, has reminded me that basketball is a 48:00 minute game; no matter how ugly, no matter how frustrating, the only thing that will matter is the W.  When the playoff seedings are made, nail-biters against bad teams don’t count any more than statement games against division rivals; and blowout losses don’t hurt any more than the games we gave away, only to come back by fighting hard at the very end, only to blow any way.  So you remind yourself that the runs don’t matter, only who’s left standing at the end; any one run, most nights, will not break the game.

Basketball has the unique quality, unlike most major sports, that 90% of the time, that one big play will NOT decide the game, just get another two points amidst the ninety-some others.  The nastiest block at best takes away one possession, among eighty or so others.  So what you teach yourself is to celebrate what you can, and to be patient the rest.  You relearn the swell of the game and remember how a team that looks horrible for a 2-14 stretch over 3:47 can call a timeout, make a key substitution, and quiet the crowd while regathering and then come back with a renewed intensity on defense, better ball movement on offense, and just flat-out more go-get-itness, and suddenly reverse that deficit just as fast as they gave it up.

The truth is, more games than not, math works; the team that averages 40% from the field, but comes out shooting 60% in the first half, is often enough going to shoot 20% in the second half.  It’s not an exactitude for every game, but as a typical balance, holds true.  So as a fan, you have to brace yourself for all this.  To be patient.  To wait until the final buzzer, because virtually no lead is insurmountable, no run is unanswerable, and every swing of the pendulum one way will inexorably fall back the other.

Games like tonight’s home game against Memphis are precisely this kind of game, where we ran out ahead early, but Memphis answered.  Where our second unit blew open the lead and the starters came back and held onto it, up by ten at the half.  Then, incredulously, we started out the third, on our home floor, giving up a horrible 8-27 run, getting absolutely abused by a very good Grizzlies’ team.  Game over?  You could hear someone in the crowd muttering that this would be two home losses in a row.  But then a Hornets run trimmed a ten-point Grizzlies’ lead to three heading into the fourth.  Whatever optimism that may have engendered, however, was tempered as the tide swelled again and Memphis pushed it back to nine, deflating the crowd.  That is, until Darius Songaila hit a highly unlikely contested three as the shot clock went off, shrinking the deficit again to a much more manageable six.  But again, Memphis outworked the Bees until its lead was back up to ten, forcing the Hornets to call a time out.  A few minutes later, Zack Randolph at the line can make it ten again, with only four and change to go; yet, after missing the second, Hornets get the rebound and Chris Paul rallies the troops, getting in everyone’s grill on both ends of the floor, and after a relatively quiet three-and-a-half, just flat-out goes nova: scoring 6 points, grabbing 1 rebound, and diming 3 assists in a five-possession span over barely two-minutes.  Game over?  Hornets win?  Hardly.  Still two-and-a-half left and Memphis fought back like devils and forced the Hornets to earn it.  But they did.  Hornets make the last shot with 0.8 to go and fight off Memphis’ final scripted play.  Finally, the game swells to an end.

So, after becoming spoiled by success, I’ve had to relearn how to watch the game.  But it’s been worth it.

All nicknames for CP3 in China.  Keep that in mind, China.  Oh, yeah, you too Houston.  There’s also this guy in Phoenix called Steve Nash.  Don’t know what his nickname is in China, but I can tell you this much: he’s better this year than Tracy McGrady.  For those of you that don’t already know, the NBA released the first tallies of All-Star votes.  Naturally, Kobe was the highest rated Western Guard.  But second?  Tracy McGrady.  Tracy fucking McGrady.

People, Steve Nash is having a stellar year; and Chris Paul, provided he is healthy from here out, is still CP3, the best point guard in the League (who after having a miserable 15-14 night in Minnesota, is hailed by box-score watchers as having a great night.  Um, I guess.  I mean, he hit the game winner, but other than that, was not his usual brilliant self; but even half of CP is better than your point guard).  Point?

STOP VOTING FOR TRACY MCGRADY.

Maybe it’s ignorant to blame China, but really, are people in Houston that insane to actually vote for a guy who has yet to play a fucking game all year?  It’s not that the Chinese are natually not as with it, but at least they are a half a world away and more likely to vote for the few players they have national ties to.  Plus if only 10% of people in each country are dumb enough to think McGrady should be even on the ballot, well, there are at least four times as many of such idiots in China, based on population figures.

So listen, did I say it yet?  STOP VOTING FOR TRACY MCGRADY.  Seriously, I’m going to go all “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back” on people and track you down by your votes and beat your head in.

Oh, those crafty Northwest Division teams… Couple of old rivals cruising for a revenge beatdown in this list. Well, we hope, anyway.

Denver Nuggets Denver Stiffs | The Nugg Doctor

Minnesota TimberwolvesCanis Hoopus | Empty the Bench | TWolvesBlog

Oklahoma City ThunderBlue Blitz | Daily Thunder

Portland Trail Blazers - Blazersedge | A Stern Warning | The Rip City Project | Blaze of Love | BustaBucket | Trail Post

Utah JazzSLC Dunk | True Blue Jazz

Once again, shout out to Celtics Blog for organizing the whole preview thing.

Central Division Previews

By on October 19, 2009

More previews from bloggers around the league…

Chicago Bulls

BlogABull.com | Give Me The Rock

Cleveland Cavaliers

Fear The Sword | WaitingForNextYear | Cavalier Attitude

Detroit Pistons

Motown String Music | Empty the Bench | Pistons Nation | Need4Sheed.com

Indiana Pacers

Indy Cornrows

Milwaukee Bucks

BrewHoop

And once again, shout out to Celtics Blog for putting together and hosting the whole NBA preview shindig!

Southwest Division Previews

By on October 14, 2009

Here are all the links you need to catch up on what all our big rival bloggers think their teams are going to do this year. (I haven’t read them all, but let me hazard a guess that everyone thinks their team could win the Division except the Grizzles and maybe the Rockets.)

Dallas Mavericks

Mavs Moneyball | The Two Man Game | NBA Mate

Houston Rockets

The Dream Shake | Ballerblogger

Memphis Grizzlies

3 Shades of Blue

New Orleans Hornets

At The Hive | Hornets Hype

San Antonio Spurs

Pounding The Rock | Project Spurs

And once again, shout out to Celtics Blog for putting together and hosting the whole NBA preview shindig!

Iiiiiiiit’s blogger preview time, it’s blogger preview time! Today we take a cruise around the Atlantic Division to check out what the Celtics, Nets, Knicks, Sixers, and Raps bloggers think about their teams’ chances this year. (Here, I’ll even use one of the Poseys-in-a-Celtics-jersey for today’s mood, just to keep the theme alive!)

Links to all the Atlantic Division Previews below:

Boston Celtics

CelticsBlog | LOY’s Place | Celtics17 | Red’s Army | Hoops Addict | Celtics Central | Celtics Hub | Gino’s Jungle

New Jersey Nets

Slippery When Nets | Barkley’s Mouth

New York Knicks

Posting and ToastingBandwagon Knick

Philadelphia 76ers

Liberty Ballers

Toronto Raptors

RaptorsHQ.com | Hoops Addict

Now, I know this is the internet, where douchebags have free reign to be douchebags in anonymity, without repercussions. I know most comment threads are usually full of ignorance that’s not worth reading. But (this is the point where you should stop reading if strong language offends you) the shit I have seen today is far beyond the limits of acceptable behavior. I am compelled to say something about it.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, in the past few weeks Stephon Marbury has gotten up to a neverending series of interesting– and sometimes disturbing– antics in his forays into livestreaming his life on the internet. I am probably guilty of watching far too much of them than is healthy to watch. Wizards center Brendan Haywood, when asked about Marbury by Hardcore Sports Radio, had the following to say:

“At first it was cool, but after a while it just became disturbing. He’s on YouTube crying with no shirt on for no reason, sweating while his boy’s rubbing his shoulders. What’s that about? That’s like gay porn. I don’t understand it. He’s dancing to a song called ‘Barbie Doll’, doing like stripper moves. I have no idea what’s going on with the guy, it’s almost like he’s trying to end his own career. There’s not a GM out there that would touch Marbury right now.

Have you seen the ‘Barbie Doll’ clip? Click on YouTube and go to Barbie Doll. There’s no way any other professional athletes would wanna get dressed around this guy, because you gotta think something is a little, he’s swinging from both sides of the fence.”

OMG they could be in your locker room, looking at your DICK!!

OMG they could be in your locker room, looking at your DICK!!

I was kind of taken aback by this when I read it, since, as mentioned, I watched quite a bit of the Marbury stuff this summer and “gay” was a word that pretty much never occurred to me. Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie provided an excellently written and fairly condemning post on Haywood’s foolish comments, and Kevin Arnovitz at True Hoop (who actually is one of the  “out” journalists referred to in the aforementioned post) followed it up with this piece. I read both and immediately thought, “Wow. Those were awesome pieces.” I said so at once. In fact, I’m the first comment on the BDL piece. What I liked particularly about it was that it used language that made the subject accessible to the average fan who might not be used to reading or writing about equality topics, and it used humor. It didn’t leap in and get political, or throw around a bunch of terminology that an NBA fan wouldn’t know. As you will soon find out, I am not going to do that in this post. I am going to use terminology. But I am going to– I promise– try to explain it, and also why the comments I read today from NBA fans are disheartening and seriously not OK, and the inherent connections homophobia has to issues which directly affect me.

Usually when I rant about topics like this, the group toward whom I direct my ire and fruitless pleas for enlightment is heterosexual white men. This is the default demographic in America. What do I mean by “default”? I mean that they are the group that’s marketed to. I mean that they are the group we see presented to us as characters on our televisions in Hollywood-produced entertainment, in ratios that are disproportionate to real life. It means if you are not a part of this group, you are “other” in some way. You have had some sort of “-ism” directed at you in your life, whether it be racism, sexism, whatever. For the purposes of today’s rant, however, I want to make it clear that men of color are totally not being given a pass. We are talking about HETEROSEXUAL. MEN. WHO. LIKE. SPORTS. Got it?

So now we’re going to talk a little about privilege. I’m going to roll with this definition, because I really like it:

Privilege Is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf. (Source.)

It is now Question Time.

Q: But Ticktock6, I called Kelly Dwyer gay because if someone cares about an NBA player being afraid of gay people, he must also by default be gay!

truck-of-failA: I was called gay at least three times today in comment threads about the Brendan Haywood thing, and I found it both laughable and infuriating, because it is so symptomatic of the exact attitude the posts were talking about. It was part of what prompted me to write this post, and part of the privilege thing I was talking about before. It is self-centered and arrogant in the utmost extreme to assume that everyone in a comment thread must automatically feel a certain way because you do. Also, I frankly am so horrified that people apparently exist who have no ability to put themselves in the shoes of another human being, I really don’t know how strongly I can express this horror without spazzing incoherently on the keyboard of my MacBook. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? You read that post, and the first thought that jumped to your mind was, “Haha! Kelly Dwyer’s gay!” … Wow. You are a sad individual. You are awarded no points, you fail at life, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Q: Surely, Ticktock6, you would be afraid to change in a whole room of lesbians, because they might spontaneously assault you and try to convert you! Oh wait, I just remembered lesbians are hot. Whereas gays are not cool. Never mind.

A: There is a lot of privilege to unpack here but I will make a valiant attempt. Let us start with the fact that men are privileged not to have been bombarded by sexualized and contorted imagery of their bodies on a daily basis for their entire lives. As a woman, damn, all we see is other women’s bodies. They’re everywhere. They’re in our magazines. They’re on the TV. They’re out on the street, because it’s acceptable and encouraged for women to wear less clothing than men. They’re on freakin billboards. If we hadn’t achieved a level of comfort with them being out there, we wouldn’t be able to open our eyes in America. Our sexuality doesn’t even really belong to us, on a certain level. It belongs to… everyone! It’s… out there! It’s public. We have been removed from having a say in certain aspects of it, and while this is not right, it does make us very used to female bodies. Sorry if I can’t summon any sympathy for your terror that someone gay might be looking at your body. As a heterosexual male, you are privileged in not having to deal with this in your life. I don’t know, is it this privilege that makes men freak out about other men’s bodies? You tell me. But then, you guys are in locker rooms. You guys pee next to each other with parts of your anatomy out. Where does this intense fear of other men’s sexuality come from? Seriously, don’t you think gay people have much better things to do than try to convert you? Again, your ability to be so self-centered is directly rooted in your privilege.

Q: So you are saying that Stephon Marbury might have danced around on Justin.tv to a teenybopper song with no shirt on for a reason other than because he’s gay? But how can this be? I was watching! The fact that he was there! Doing that! While I was watching! And I’m a heterosexual male! He has to be gay!

A: This is the assumption that pissed me off. If you can get this, and only this, you may leave this blog and I will feel like I achieved my purpose. Repeat after me. It is not always about you. Maybe it’s possible that someone can do something weird or slightly “off” and it’s not about their sexuality. Hell, maybe it is about their sexuality, and it’s still not about you. Maybe it’s possible that people exist– bear with me please– who are basketball fans, for whom a video of Marbury dancing is not “gay” at all. I watched a bunch of the Marbury stuff. I was like, “Damn, don’t put the shirt back on!” Was that gay of me to say that? Of course not. I’m a heterosexual female. (Never mind that gay people are just like heterosexual people, and they behave in a variety of different ways because they are a whole spectrum of people and do not necessarily define their entire lives by the fact that they are gay. They may be doctors. They may be writers. They may be basketball players. The point is there is no such thing as “THIS IS THE WAY ALL GAY PEOPLE ACT”.) By pre-supposing that someone’s behavior is gay or offensive solely because you are uncomfortable with it or confused by it, you are making it all about you. Society is set up to accommodate you more than any other demographic group, and you are demanding that we do it some more because you are insecure. You completely dismissed out of hand the idea that Marbury might be dancing for anyone– me, his friends, himself– other than you, because of course you are his only possible audience. And as a nice little side note, you are telling me I can’t possibly exist. I do not take kindly to this. Hence, the post.

Q: I don’t get it. How is that telling you you don’t exist? That’s not what I said at all. You’re not even gay.

A: You implied it. And this is really the crux of the whole thing. When you make harmful and ignorant comments about an NBA co-worker/peer in a supposedly joking way, or think every space in the sports blogosphere is a safe space for you to spew ignorant hate as a commenter and not be called on it– after all, everyone there is the same as you! … What you are really saying is that people who aren’t like you  A) aren’t a part of the audience for sports, and B) aren’t welcome in sports.

As a wrap-up note, don’t tell me I’m being too sensitive and need to grow a thicker skin or whatever garbage you want to say. You. Have. No. Idea. What it is like being me, out here in the blogosphere. You think if I didn’t have a thick skin, I would be still be writing an NBA blog? This is going to be my third season, and let me tell you, if I was not already able to shrug off the disgusting jokes, and ignorant statements, and people talking like I’m not there, and sheer hatred of women I read on a daily basis– yes, I said daily and yes, I said hatred because, as far as I am concerned, a denial of a person’s basic humanity counts as hatred–  I would have quit after a month. And that’s just what I read on the internet. In the spaces I regularly inhabit as a fan of the NBA. I can’t even imagine what it is like being a female reporter in a locker room. Or a gay reporter in a locker room. Also, it goes without saying that anyone who accuses others of being “too sensitive” or “acting out” is operating with a big whopping dose of— let’s all guess the word– privilege. If you’re a blogger, never having to skim past eighteen disgusting comments about a group of people that includes you is the biggest privilege of all. And you probably don’t even notice.

What follows is a Heterosexual Privilege checklist. The time I have personally taken to read checklists like these has been highly eye-opening and sobering to me. I suggest you read it alone, drop the tired “no homo/pause” facade, and try to imagine what it is like to be someone else for the five to ten minutes it takes you to finish reading. (For more reading on privilege, go here. And White Privilege Checklist, and my personal favorite friend the Male Privilege Checklist.)

Daily Effects of Straight Privilege ( Source.)

On a daily basis as a straight person…

  • I can be pretty sure that my roommate, hallmates and classmates will be comfortable with my sexual orientation.
  • If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
  • When I talk about my heterosexuality (such as in a joke or talking about my relationships), I will not be accused of pushing my sexual orientation onto others.
  • I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
  • I did not grow up with games that attack my sexual orientation (IE fag tag or smear the queer).
  • I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation.
  • I can go home from most meetings, classes, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of my sexual orientation.
  • I am never asked to speak for everyone who is heterosexual.
  • I can be sure that my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people with my sexual orientation.
  • People don’t ask why I made my choice of sexual orientation.
  • People don’t ask why I made my choice to be public about my sexual orientation.
  • I do not have to fear revealing my sexual orientation to friends or family. It’s assumed.
  • My sexual orientation was never associated with a closet.
  • People of my gender do not try to convince me to change my sexual orientation.
  • I don’t have to defend my heterosexuality.
  • I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual.
  • I can count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality.
  • I am guaranteed to find sex education literature for couples with my sexual orientation.
  • Because of my sexual orientation, I do not need to worry that people will harass me.
  • I have no need to qualify my straight identity.
  • My masculinity/femininity is not challenged because of my sexual orientation.
  • I am not identified by my sexual orientation.
  • I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my sexual orientation will not work against me.
  • If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has sexual orientation overtones.
  • Whether I rent or I go to a theater or Blockbuster, I can be sure I will not have trouble finding my sexual orientation represented.
  • I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double-take or stare.
  • I can choose to not think politically about my sexual orientation.
  • I do not have to worry about telling my roommate about my sexuality. It is assumed I am a heterosexual.
  • I can remain oblivious of the language and culture of LGBTQ folk without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  • I can go for months without being called straight.
  • I’m not grouped because of my sexual orientation.
  • My individual behavior does not reflect on people who identity as heterosexual.
  • In everyday conversation, the language my friends and I use generally assumes my sexual orientation. For example, sex inappropriately referring to only heterosexual sex or family meaning heterosexual relationships with kids.
  • People do not assume I am experienced in sex (or that I even have it!) merely because of my sexual orientation.
  • I can kiss a person of the opposite gender in the cafeteria without being watched and stared at.
  • Nobody calls me straight with maliciousness.
  • People can use terms that describe my sexual orientation and mean positive things (IE “straight as an arrow”, “standing up straight” or “straightened out” ) instead of demeaning terms (IE “ewww, that’s gay” or being “queer” ) .
  • I am not asked to think about why I am straight.
  • I can be open about my sexual orientation without worrying about my job.

Q: But isn’t this supposed to be about basketball?

A: It is about basketball. And if you really, truly, loved the game, you would do everything you could to make sure that other people who aren’t exactly like you can be part of it too. I really encourage people to think seriously about whether you are being selfish in spaces you share with other NBA fans. Think about whether what you say may interfere with someone else’s ability to post about or talk about their love of the game.

Now, I hope we are clear about how arrogant and ignorant it is to assume that no one who’s anything other than the demographic you belong to is in your space as a sports fan or participant. I hope we are also clear that… this blog? This is my space. And if the “big” media isn’t going to delete hateful and disgusting commentary, you can be 100% assured that I will.

The only correct and acceptable answer here is, “Yes, Ticktock6, we are clear. Crystal.”

This only works if you are a really, really fast reader, but if you click the link below, you can see what looks like our 2009-10 schedule (the dates match up, and the games are different from last year) before it redirects back to last year’s schedule. Oh, NBA, fining people for leaking schedules and then putting them up on NBA.com. UPDATE: The whole schedule appears to be up now. I’ve posted it.

http://www.nba.com/schedules/index.html?team=hornets

It looks like:

  • We have several nationally televised games again
  • We start 10/28 on the road at San Antonio
  • First home game is vs. Sacramento
  • For once, we end with a bunch of home games as opposed to the asskicker of a stretch run we’ve had the last two years

But again, that’s if this is indeed the schedule. We’ll find out for sure this afternoon. Also this afternoon is the Hornets’ press conference to officially introduce Emeka Okafor. I’ll probably throw up some links related to that later.

(Yes, my mood is “cold.” What? The A/C is madly ridiculous at my desk.)

The Hype Does the HOF

By on July 16, 2009

mW outside the Hall of FameI’m not sure I even knew where the Basketball Hall of Fame was until this weekend. (For all of you who are similarly oblivious, it’s in Springfield, MA.) But here we were driving down the Mass Pike on our way to a wedding, and we see a sign on the side of the highway that says “Basketball Hall of Fame.” We’re like, really? Here? Why? And then we thought, well, of course we have to go. It was the randomest of things. But I thought I’d share some of the pictures we took. Most of them are of weird stuff. Because I like weird stuff.

First of all, if you mean to go to the Basketball Hall of Fame, you cannot miss it. ticktock6 outside the HOFIt’s right off the exit, for one thing, and for another, it’s the place with the giant basketball on top of a big white tower (see left). Oh, P.S.– at any time feel free to click on the pics to biggify them; I had to shrink them to thumbnails just to get them all into the post. Your $16 will get you a ticket with the names and pictures of the current year’s inductee class on it. This year, that’s Michael Jordan, David Robinson, C. Vivian Stringer, Jerry Sloan, and John Stockton, but none of their stuff is there yet because they don’t get inducted until September 10th. There was, however, construction tape roping off a section on the 2nd floor where they were ripping some walls out, and a sign informing us that this is where the MJ exhibit is going to be.

The inside of the dome in the Hall of FameThe Hall of Fame is set up around a three level dome. You walk in, they put you on an elevator, which whisks you up to the third floor. The third floor is where all the Hall of Famers are. Their pictures are on the walls (see left), and below them are boxes containing basketball artifacts, the HOFers’ biographies, some videos, and a neat historical timeline matching the history of basketball to other events that were going on in the world. Basically, you start in the 1800s and walk around the circle. The middle of the dome is a basketball courtOn the second floor are specific exhibits– they have one for great high school teams and another for great college teams, one dedicated to pro dynasties, one for broadcasters (that one’s interactive, which is cool for the kids), one for coaches, as well as random jerseys and shoes and stuff from popular players. And on the first floor is a basketball court, so at any time you can wander over to the railing and look down and see all the kids playing (right).

mW's foot inside Shaq's footprint

Now, to have a good time at the Basketball Hall of Fame, I am going to posit that you have to be something of a nerd. In particular, a history nerd. And you have to be willing to read a lot. Which is why I’m sure, for instance, we probably got more out of the third floor than the group of high school ballers who were wandering through at the same time as us. If you want to see people you’ve heard of, you might as well skip the first two thirds of the top floor, because they’re not going to be there. Remember, most people you’ve heard of aren’t in the Hall. Even Jordan’s not yet. So, non-history buffs beware– you might want to proceed downstairs and do the silly stuff like sticking your foot in Shaq’s shoeprint (left). But you would be missing out.

The first woman in the basketball hall of fame

Anyhow, basketball was invented in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith. He was Canadian! I bet you didn’t know that. So you enjoy your basketball heritage, Raps fans. The first game was played at the YMCA at what is now the location of Springfield College, hence the random location of the HOF. But it was quickly picked up by colleges who wanted a way to keep their athletes in shape between football and baseball seasons. Women’s basketball was started only a year later in 1892 by Senda Berenson Abbott (left), who was a gymnastics instructor at nearby Smith College. Yet– go figure– she didn’t get into the HOF until 1985! Yay for sexism, right? She was appropriately the first woman inducted, and there have been lots more since. Of course, I took her picture.

The old uniforms killed meThe old stuff in the HOF is hilarious. Here’s an early Knicks uniform on the right. It’s made out of sweater and has a belt! They used to also wear knee pads. They didn’t even have sneakers until 1917, when the Converse Chuck Taylor’s were invented (yup, they’ve got one on display). I got a huge kick out of the gear from the early 20th century. Also the totally random factoids. Like: Did you know the basket used to have to be opened by the ref after a team scored, to let the ball out? It wasn’t until 1906 that it dawned on someone to leave the bottom of the basket open. (There wasn’t a lot of scoring in early basketball.) And they had to invent the backboard because games were often played in crazy places like opera houses and there would be people reaching down over the wall from their seats to interfere with baskets? And they had to move the basket a few feet out from the wall because players used to try to run up the wall to lay the ball in? (I don’t know, doesn’t this seem like kind of a cool thing to put back in the game? Just for an exhibition at the All Star Game or something? With the athleticism of the players these days? I totally wanna see this!)

One of the cooler things in the early days of basketball was barnstorming. There were several organized leagues– it was more like in Europe than anything else we have in the U.S. Red Auerbach's cigar... well, one of them, I assumeBut some teams, like the New York Renaissance, the first all-black team, and the Harlem Globetrotters, weren’t allowed in a league, so they would barnstorm– which was basically getting on a train or a bus and traveling around challenging whatever teams would play you. There was even a women’s team called the Red Heads (they all had red hair) who barnstormed and won something like 80% of their games against men’s teams. Because of the travel, basketball pretty much stuck to the eastern part of the U.S. for many years. We also learned that, in addition to the Boston Celtics (speaking of which, there’s one of Red Auerbach’s cigars, left), there was also a New York Celtics. You always think the players today are huge compared to 50 years ago, but I don’t know. Some of those guys in the 1920′s pictures clearly worked out. Dudes had pretty big arms, even if they weren’t as tall.

Ball from the Chicago Bulls' 70th victoryAfter awhile, we worked our way around the circle to the guys I’ve heard of. One of the things I liked were the commemorative balls. They’re all painted and written on with the names and dates of the accomplishments, and some of them are really old. This one on the right isn’t– it’s the ball from when the 1995-96 Bulls hit their 70th win. Then there was the quirky stuff. They’ve got Red Auerbach’s cigar– imagine anyone lighting up on the bench these days, even after the game was won. It would never happen. They’ve got Pistol Pete Maravich’s socks. Pistol Pete's socksYep, his socks. I guess he used to wear tall floppy socks. And there is an actual pair of them in a glass case (see left). Pistol Pete is one of the jerseys retired in New Orleans Arena, even though he never played for the New Orleans Hornets (you know, I was just thinking, if we’re gonna do that, it seems like we’d also retire Larry Brown, who played for New Orleans’ ABA team, the Bucs, doesn’t it? But which jerseys are appropriate to retire where is another topic for another day). And he was, as far as I could tell, the first Louisiana guy in the HOF.

I seriously have shorts the size of Dave Cowens'Oh, and small shorts! Let me tell you, there is a plethora of small shorts. The Hall of Fame is like an ode to the small short. There’s Bill Russell’s small shorts. And Wilt Chamberlain’s small shorts. I took pictures of several pairs of small shorts, but I will only grace you with one. These are Dave Cowens’ small shorts from the 1979-80 season. Now, it may be hard to get the proper perspective in this picture, but I am telling you, I own shorts the same size as these shorts. Am I a six foot nine man? Am I? I ask you. Amazing. The small shorts just slayed me. If you are a fan of small shorts, you should definitely check out the Basketball Hall of Fame. (Interestingly enough, the shorts started out long in the early days of basketball, got short, and then got long again. The era of the small short was fleeting yet legendary.)

Pat Riley's speech notes before the Miami Heat's championship-winning gameOne of the weirdest things about the HOF is that all of today’s great coaches… are already there! You need to be retired at least five years to be eligible if you’re a player, but coaches need to have been retired for five years or to have coached for 25 years. So Phil Jackson and Pat Riley and Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan… these guys are already in, even though their careers are still going. On the left was one of my favorite things– that’s Pat Riley’s pre-game speech to the Miami Heat the night they won the championship in 2006. His handwriting’s kind of hard to read, but I just found it amazingly cool to see all written out. What he thought was important, what he underlined, the quotes he picked. So did he deliver it like it was on the paper? Or just use it as a reference? I guess we have to ask James Posey.

At least I'm taller than MuggsyOn the second floor there are interactive displays where you can measure your wingspan (70″, and mine was longer than mW’s despite him being taller than me), see if you can palm a basketball (uh, the baby sized one), figure out your vertical leap (only like a foot, but I was wearing flip flops and hungover), and do other silly stuff like that. On the right, we can see that I am shorter than Manute Bol …. but! Taller than Muggsy Bogues. There are also more jerseys, sneakers, and team histories. There was also a small case full of Paul Pierce stuff (I suspect there is rather more Celtics stuff in the HOF than other teams because of its location less than 2 hours outside Boston). Which included– I shit you not, why did I not photograph this?– a bottle of Minute Maid lemonade. Like, seriously. Jerseys from Kansas and Boston, sneakers and some memorabilia… and a lemonade. I couldn’t decide if someone left it in there by accident or Paul Pierce just really, really loves lemonade. Someone needs to tell me the significance of the lemonade!

I like this look-- bring it back, Nuggets!

Finally, I am going to wrap up with a comment–and a plea– to the Denver Nuggets. I was not aware of these jerseys. I do not know how, because they are clearly one of the awesomest things in the history of the word awesome. Well, that oversight has been corrected, and I know about them now. And thus I must beg– bring back the rainbow unis, Nuggets! How many teams in the league have stupid light blue now? It’s overplayed. Not to mention three of them (Nuggets, Jazz, and Thunder) are similarly located in the middle of the U.S., so it’s not like you are helping people tell you apart there. No one has this. No one. Look at the rainbow on the legs of the warmups! This is a great uni. Bring it back, Nuggets. And then we can have idiotic conversations like this:

Melo: Pause.
Chaunce: … WTF? You didn’t say anything.
Melo: Oh, just cause I’m wearing this jersey. No homo.
Chaunce: …..

Make it happen, Nuggets. You know you want to.