Issue 150: How Would You Fare in an NBA Game?

Did you know this is the 150th issue of Crisp Bounce Pass?

I mean, you probably did, it’s up there in bold, literally directly above where you’re reading right now.

Still, that’s an awesome accomplishment, and I’m very thankful you’ve been along on this ride with me. We’ve got lots more to come, but I thought for this nice milestone number of an episode, we could start with something I’ve been watching for most of my life: SNL.

During its last episode, Saturday Night Live had a sketch featuring the NBA on TNT fellas. Well, it wasn’t actually Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley—it was Alex Moffatt, Chris Redd, and Kenan Thompson playing them, respectively.

But much like the actual NBA on TNT show, there’s plenty of gold here.

The sketch revolves around the premise that the entire Sacramento Kings roster is unable to play due to Covid-19, so the Kings have picked up a bunch of random fans and arena support staff in their matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

How does that turn out?

I’ll try not to spoil too much from this video, but a few things I appreciate:

  • Barkley’s expert analysis for the reason the Kings are losing: they don’t have any NBA players.
  • James Harden has nearly doubled the NBA record for assists in a game by halftime. But he’s outmatched by a Kings equipment manager in terms of asthma attacks.
  • The episode’s host, Ariana DeBose, plays a fan who was just there for a girls’ night out and got brought onto the court. She’s ejected for taking a selfie during the game, but as we’ve seen before, that’s totally okay to do, and is sometimes even encouraged.
  • One fan thought he could put up a good fight on the court because he plays pickup basketball with a bunch of white guys his own size. This is as good a time as any to pitch the concept of having one average person compete in every Olympic event so we get to see just how incredible these athletes are. Maybe we can make it happen in Beijing!
  • Everything our tall guest co-host does.

This sketch begs the simple question: How do you think you’d do in a game against an NBA player? Or, for a more balanced event—you and four of your friends versus five NBA players.

Could you score at all? Maybe get a steal or a block? Would you even make it through a few possessions without needing a break?

A Not-Quite NBA Personal Story

I think the closest I’ve come to this was when my former college roommate invited me to a scrimmage against the women’s basketball team. He practiced with the team to help them prepare for games, and they needed an extra player.

I joined his team for one day and, despite being 6’2”, I was primarily playing shooting guard, so I had a rotating cast of 5’4” to 5’8” players guarding me. That was kind of nice, because I could see over them, and my goofy long arms were helpful for shooting and passing.

The end result of that game: we won by about 20 points. I think I had half a dozen baskets merely by being taller and stouter than my defender and using my big ol’ booty to sashay my way into the post for a layup.

The actual basketball team did pull off several impressive plays throughout the game and made us all look silly at various points. However, they were so frustrated by the end they lashed out at the official—who, like us, was merely a volunteer to help them practice—and she took off her whistle and told them they could ref the rest of the game themselves. Then she left the gym entirely.

It was pandemonium, let me tell you.

There were two future WNBA players on that team, so it was kind of like playing against professional athletes (although as college athletes they were very much not paid at the time).

Of course, there’s a big difference between playing basketball against someone half a foot (or more) shorter than you and playing basketball against someone half a foot (or more) taller than you.

So, uh…I’m not sure how well I’d fare if I was staring down, say, Kevin Durant or Luka Doncic. Again, I do think my long spindly arms could probably deflect a pass or maybe even get a steal, but if a player was giving even 60% effort, they’d probably block everything I attempted.

Who knows, though? Maybe I’d get open off a screen, and see a glimpse of daylight before knocking down a jumper. Or perhaps I’d hit a halfcourt shot to beat the buzzer, the team of NBA players marveling at my long-range accuracy.

Hey, it happened to me in a high school basketball game, and that’s pretty much the same thing, right?

In fact—spoiler alert: here comes some self-promotion—that moment was the inspiration for one of the stories in my book, Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life’s Relationships.

And wouldn’t you know it? You can pick up your copy by either clicking right here.