A complicated look at uncomplicated topics to ameliorate your day.
Otherwise known as: Bball, Space Jam
Key Rules: The rules of Basketball fit into a nice little story – when you travel you find that nobody tries to block you from dunking your biscuits in your coffee and eating them, even though occasionally they rebound out of your mouth and cause you to dribble, because they feel it would be offensive or foul if you tried to block them from scoring in the same way. Also, the referees wear uniforms that make them look like Zebras.
A Brief History….
Basketball originated in the 1890s when James Naismith invented the game for the chaps at the local YMCA as a way to keep fit and warm during the winter months. Naturally, this was required as they had not yet discovered either the Village People or the aerobic benefits of dancing around doing the YMCA in unusual costumes just as yet.
Initially the game was played with soccer balls and peach baskets, so once the ball entered the basket it did not pass through the other side. Whilst never formally acknowledging the inspiration that the fruit pickers of America gave him, it is undeniable that James Naismith’s early work here pays homage to their great fruit picking and placement skills.
Contrary to popular belief, the backboard was not introduced simply to assist those with terrible aim but to remove the interference from crowd members and spectators sitting on the mezzanine level to which the hoop was attached. That sort of blocking and goal tending was not to be seen again for another… well, at least not for another few years, until the players started overachieving and doing it themselves whilst on the court.
At the turn of the century, the game had spread rapidly and was played equally by men and women. Like most things in life, men took their commitment to the game a little too seriously and after a few false attempts, ended up creating a National Basketball Association by 1950 and were suddenly playing against each other for glory, fame and sheep stations. This dedication also transformed the game into a slightly more physical affair than Dr Naismith had intended.
In order to preserve this goodness he wished to see in the sport, Dr Naismith became instrumental in introducing Basketball into American colleges where he hoped the spirit of the game would be maintained. Over the next century, this move created the opportunity for thousands of athletically but not necessarily intellectually talented young people to spend four years at a higher learning institution on scholarship getting wasted every weekend, mastering beer pong and potentially playing some Basketball in their spare time. Undoubtedly, a very proud moment for Dr Naismith and his legacy.
By the late 1960s, Basketball had stratified itself into some sort of order in the USA. It had grown incredibly popular in high schools across the country (for further proof, see High School Musical), developed a highly competitive college program and competition which had led to a sustainable national league which has become the top professional league in the world in terms of popularity, salary, talent, shoe size and sheer ego.
From the time of its introduction in Australia in the early 1900s, Basketball was played predominantly amongst church groups, leading us to believe that all that aerial work on the Basketball court was just really a way to get closer to God. It took a brief hiatus or two during the World Wars, and didn’t reach any major levels of popularity until after the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, which had prompted the building of better facilities to showcase the game.
This development mirrored the growth of the game in Australia, where it seemingly became played by really tall people and only at the elite Olympic level. Whilst junior and local competitions abound, the various National Basketball Leagues and organisations have enjoyed inconsistent success and patronage from the public, never quite reaching the revered heights of our friends across the Pacific. That said, our ability to export high quality Number 1 Draft Picks to the NBA has been unparalleled & has become so successful in the past fifteen years, it now rivals agriculture and Jamie Durie as our key exports to the States.
The Top 5 Reasons You Should Play Basketball
Reason One: You Are a Huge Destiny’s Child Fan
You’re a Survivor. You’re a Soldier. Yes, you are a Bootylicious Independent Woman. And Basketball is the game for you. Why you may ask?
Well, Basketball is a lot like a Destiny’s Child song. First you start with a bounce with me, bounce, bounce and then when faced by an opponent you do a shake, baby shake, shake, shake and then you work it, work it and as you move between players on the court you twist, baby twist twist that thing. After all, this game is won by the team who does the best Jumpin’ Jumpin.
Reason Two: You Love to Travel
New places, new people, new experiences, travelling is a keen hobby of yours and you love flying around the world chasing new adventures. Alas, air time is expensive. The longer you’re in the air up there, the higher the bill. But there is a solution, just play more Basketball.
Basketballers spend that much time in the air that they clock up more frequent flyer points than a Kardashian in three hours on Rodeo Drive. They’re in the air when they catch it, when they pass it, when slam dunk it, when they rebound it, they even invented the jump shot so they could be in the air when they shoot it.
If you need any further proof, look at what Nike named their special ‘Basketball Shoe’. Nike Air.
Reason Three: You Will Become a Successful Actor
Who wants to spend four years slogging it out at NIDA or RADA when all you have to do is run around and bounce a little orange ball for a while and you can star in your own movie?
Basketballers have been getting parts in movies since they wore reasonably sized shorts (hello 1960). There’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Flying High, Kevin Durant in Thunderstruck, Ray Allen in He Got Game, Michael Jordan in the original Space Jam, and most recently and perhaps successfully, LeBron James in Trainwreck with Amy Schumer.
But these players all pale in significance to Shaquille O’Neal, who is not only one of the largest human beings to have ever lived, but who has also been in so many movies, he has his own profile on IMBD. Yes, he has featured in over twenty movies, mainly as himself, without ever spending one day auditioning in LA or learning the craft with his fellow thespians. Not one single day.
He’s also released four albums…
Calm down, we never said they were actually GOOD albums.
Reason Four: It’s All About Acceptance Man
Where else in the world do men and women who are physical giants, with names like Metta World Peace and friends including North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un fit in? Where else can a person who truly believes they’re ‘like a superhero’ and asks to be called “Basketball Man” not only be accepted but idolised by millions? In most other walks of life, they are looked at a bit strangely, however Basketball is the game of equals. It has a rich tradition of being a street game that is played across all cultures, ethnicities and socio-economic groups, providing a sense of equality on court that allows the cream to rise to the top.
In other places when you say you’d like to meet your favourite cartoon or anime character they begin to start arranging to commit you to an asylum, but when you play Basketball you get to meet Bugs Bunny. If you’re good enough probably Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd too. Your eight year old self is jumping up and down with excitement right now aren’t they?
Reason Five: You Will Become a Fashion Icon
For starters, no one questions your shorts.
Even if they are of a length that most would call questionable – are they long shorts or short longs? – when you play basketball, no one questions your shorts. No one questions why you are wearing a singlet so large that you could fit a community of small African children in it with you. You get your own style of shoes made for you and you are never expected to wear more than a hoodie every day to be sufficiently dressed. When you are a Basketballer, no one asks any questions at all. You can simply wear what you want every day of the week.
Take Kobe Bryant for example, he releases a series of pictures dressed entirely in a white suit, complete with head scarf, and nobody asked any questions. (Well apart from Mother Teresa fans who know exactly who he pinched that look from.)
As for Dennis Rodman, people stopped asking questions there a long time ago…