Issue 121: 3 Plays That Will Make You Hate Basketball

As a subscriber of this newsletter, you know basketball is my favorite sport.

In fact, you probably don’t even need to be a subscriber to know that. It would be pretty dumb to devote two issues a week to something I despised, like…I don’t know, clubbing kneecaps or The Big Bang Theory.

I enjoy a ton about the sport. The on-court action is great, for sure, but I also love the crossovers (heh, basketball term) into pop culture, music, fashion, business, and so much more.

Yet sometimes, there are plays that make me hate the game. Let’s watch three of them.

Committing a foul because someone lays down on top of you

During a 2017 game between the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, Chicago’s Michael Carter-Williams was whistled for a foul in the final minutes of overtime.

As he sat on the floor, Carter-Williams watched as the official made the call, then immediately jumped to his feet to protest it.

Yes, it was his sixth personal foul and he was going to be eliminated from the game, but that wasn’t the issue. It was how the foul occurred.

As many defenders do, Carter-Williams was in a defensive stance, attempting to stop James Harden from receiving a pass.

Harden didn’t like this obstacle in his way, so he did what any rational person would do. He walked around Carter-Williams and got himself open.

Oh wait, that’s my mistake. Harden actually decided to… *checks notes* lay down on the back of Carter-Williams.

As an astute commenter notes, maybe Harden just wanted to try bull riding. Either way, it’s shocking that he was rewarded for this.

Though if you’re a basketball fan, James Harden would be #1 on your list of people that would pull such a move off.

An incredibly rare triple flop

Typically, a flop involves two players. One player will try to sell contact to the official, flailing their arms or tumbling to the ground and rolling around like they’re falling down a cliffside in The Princess Bride.

Occasionally, you might see two players flopping at once. This often occurs on a scramble for a loose ball. They run into each other and both go flying.

But a triple flop?! That’s truly a thing of wonder.

Yet that’s what we got in a 2014 Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings game. Rudy Gay came to set a screen on Kenneth Faried, attempting to free his teammate DeMarcus Cousins open for a shot.

Instead, Faried bumps into Gay, and both hurtle to the ground. Cousins, not wanting to feel left out, also stumbles backward like he just ran full speed into a brick wall.

Faried ultimately gets called for the foul, but really, nobody’s a winner here.

This cool shot doesn’t count

In an early season 2015 game, the Boston Celtics found themselves inbounding from the opposite end of the court with just 1.1 seconds remaining in the first half.

They gave the ball to Jae “Cannon Arm” Crowder, who attempted to make a length-of-the-court pass to a teammate.

But that good arm got the best of him, and he banked the ball off the backboard and threw the hoop. Everyone immediately turned around to look at someone else, being like, “uh…does that count? What happens now?”

What happens is that the basket does not count. The NBA rules state you can’t make a shot from out of bounds — in fact, doing so results in a turnover. In this case, the Pacers would inbound the ball from underneath their own basket with the same 1.1 seconds left on the clock.

You could theoretically use the basket as some sort of ricochet mechanism, tossing it at a 61-degree angle off the front of the rim to an incoming player who slams it home. But even in that situation, the player would still have to touch the ball before it actually goes through the hoop.

Anyway, I hate this play because it’s such a hard shot to make and the entire arena is impressed. That should totally count.