Issue 75: A Primer on Celebrating Big Moments

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Most people will never experience what it’s like to hit a game-winning shot in front of thousands of people. It’s simply not going to happen.

That’s a sad thing to read to start the week, isn’t it? But it’s true.

Unless your high school is very good or you’re a star that reaches the college or professional level, your best basketball moments will come solo or in front of a small crowd — which could very well simply be the other people playing with you during a pickup game.

But does that mean these moments shouldn’t be celebrated? Does the fact that scouts aren’t in the stands diminish awesome plays at all?

No. No, it does not.

The below moments offer a primer on celebrating anytime things go right. There’s no shame in getting hyped. In fact, your joy doesn’t even need to be on a basketball court.

Try ‘em out the next time you experience a big moment, like getting a promotion at work or scoring a cool toy in your cereal box.

The Striptease

This was a bit more popular back in the day, but it’s still an effective way to show your excitement. When the shot goes in as the buzzer sounds, you rip off your clothes like they’re infested with fleas.

Brandi Chastain is the most memorable example of the striptease celebration. She scored on a penalty kick to lift the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team to victory during the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals. Immediately, she yanked her shirt off and swung it in the air like she was practicing a lasso. The rest of the U.S. team sprinted to her to pile on in a massive celebration.

Chastain later said she wasn’t thinking anything and was just caught up in the biggest moment of her life. FIFA responded the following year by making any removal of a shirt worthy of a yellow card. The lesson, as always, FIFA is terrible and only enjoys things if it makes them millions of dollars.

Even though that’s a soccer example and not a basketball one, use her as your inspiration. Shirt is a must, shorts are optional. Please keep undergarments on (unlike Barats and Bereta below).

The Musician

The shot goes in. The buzzer sounds. You grab a pretend microphone and start singing as your teammates sway around you.

Classics like “We Are the Champions” by Queen or Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” are great, but you can really confuse your opponents by going with a less common celebration song, like “One Fine Day” by The Chiffons or “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” by the Darkness.

If singing isn’t your thing, why not grab an air guitar and jam out for a bit? I can’t imagine a better NBA player to do this than Lance Stephenson. So…here he is doing it (and nearly giving up a three-pointer to the other team in the process):

The Headfirst Slide

Basketball and baseball rarely have crossover moments, but they can overlap during this celebration.

As soon as the shot goes through the hoop, go get a running start and slide across the floor. If you want to get really choreographed, have a teammate act as the catcher and another as the umpire. Your catcher teammate can apply a tag to you while your umpire emphatically signals SAFE.

If you’re playing on an outdoor court, run to the nearest patch of grass to pull this maneuver off without badly skinning your knees.

Bryce Drew didn’t go for a full-on slide when he hit a game-winner to give Valparaiso an upset victory over Mississippi during the 1998 NCAA Tournament. It’s probably more of an “avoid the pickoff attempt” as he dives back to first base.

Still, it’s an impressive celebration, made even better by the fact Drew missed a shot right before his game winner. REDEMPTION.

The Lift Up

This one is based on a real-life example. During my college days, I was playing an intramural basketball game and my team had just missed a shot that rolled out of bounds. It was a tie game and there were two seconds left on the clock. The other team was taking the ball in from out of bounds, so I thought, “let me try and bait them into throwing it to my defender and then I’ll come in and steal the ball.”

Well, let me tell you: that was a PERFECT plan. The ball came down from the other end of the court, I intercepted it, and made a half-court shot to win the game. It was glorious.

My team (which consisted of six other guys) ran over to me and lifted me up on their shoulders and they all jumped up and down. In retrospect, I am very impressed they did not drop me. I never had a bar mitzvah, but I imagine this celebration is similar to the euphoria of being lifted up in a chair while everyone around you is filled with glee.

I’d highly recommend giving it a try — you don’t even need to be playing basketball. Just do something great and have your coworkers or family members hoist you up and parade you around. Here’s Minnesota’s Maya Moore sinking a game-winner in the 2015 WNBA Finals and her teammates hoisting her up as she poses in glory:


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Other Reads and Watches

Britni de la Cretaz: Living Nonbinary in a Binary Sports World

Josh Okogie and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx hosted an auction for Daunte Wright’s family 

Ricky O’Donnell is still playing as the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a college basketball game from 14 years ago, and it’s glorious.

Did Zion Williamson just hint he might sign with the Knicks down the road?

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


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