There is something happening east of the Big Bridge, and it has nothing to do with Nick Fucking Swisher.
Ghetto Ball has returned to the NBA playoffs. And not a moment too soon.
Ok, I have been absolutely remiss on posting lately, due mostly to cramming my synapse gaps with fermented grape in the Santa Ynez Valley. But nothing lasts forever, and how long is forever anyway? I'm roaring back across the Grand Expanse to deliver a message of hope:
Golden State plays the kind of basketball that would make Hot Sauce happy.
I think it's important, after such a monumental upset in the first round, to define what I mean by "Ghetto Ball". I'll attempt to use numbers, charts and pictures, but essentially, the words will make the most sense.
Ghetto Ball is, in its purest form, a style of basketball played by 5 individuals who never pass and never run a single coherent play. It is run by a coach who, for practice, throws a few racks of balls out onto the court and says "go". It lacks a defensive system completely. It teaches and preaches offensive skills and freakish athleticism. In a nutshell, it's Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Jason Richardson and Matt Barnes.
There is no passing. There is no offensive mindset. When the opposing team shoots, all 5 are scrambling for the rebound. Whoever gets it immediately sprints up-court for a fast break. No, it does not matter what the numbers are. I've seen Davis go one on four, and get his bucket.
Speaking of buckets, that's really all Ghetto Ball is, at the very core. Buckets. You gotta git your buckets. Why? Because if you don't, somebody else will, either on your team or whatever. When the ball is in your hand, the goal is to get it in the bucket, end of story. Passing just delays this.
Why am I so excited about Ghetto Ball? Because I love playground shit. I love shit talking for no reason other than to run your mouth (Sammy C, get at me dog!). I love Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason just going absolutely trash ball and punching people in the face. I love Ricky Davis shooting on his own basket to get a triple double. Anyone who has played the game knows that although those pickup games start out structured, eventually they devolve into gutter mouth and trying to one-up one another.
Think about this for a minute. What are some of the defining moments of your NBA fan career? I'll tell you a few of mine:
- Reggie Miller turning towards Spike Lee and just clowning him, right to his face, by throwing up the "choke" sign.
- Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen teaming up on Darrick Martin and not allowing him to cross half-court after he talked shit to them.
- Jordan against the Blazers in the Finals, when he couldn't physically miss a shot.
- Robert Horry, too many times, daggering a team at the end of a big game.
- Sam Cassell, running down the floor holding enormous imaginary testicles. And bobbing them up and down like we used to do on the playground.
- John Starks, raising hell with Jordan, then getting dunked on so much that it hurt me in Wisconsin.
- The Pistons, despite hearing non-stop that the Lakers were destined for the championship, coming out and completely destroying them in every way. Chauncey Billups hitting shots against whatever the Lakers were trying to stop him with, and dropping that cool smirk of his. Also Rasheed getting revenge on anyone who ever said a word about him.
At its core, basketball yearns to be ghetto ball. Some of the greatest performances have come because one player is just willing to get more ghetto than another one. Individuality is demonized in professional sports, when it's done for the wrong reason. That's bullshit. The NBA is completely individualized.... look at their marketing machine. It's not about the Rockets or the Wolves, it's all about McGrady, Yao, KG. Most of their success relies on their ability to get theirs when it counts. Think of this statement: "He can create his own shot". YOu know who can create their own shot? Anyone willing to stop passing to teammates for an entire game. Kobe "creates his own shot" every single time down the floor. So does Baron Davis. And Stephen Jackson. And Gary Trent.
Simmons maintains that this is a form of basketball not built for the playoffs, which I agree with, but I don't care. This is my favorite kind of basketball. The Warriors put up a hundred and goddamned twenty five points tonight. That's not "running". That's "putting the G back in Gangster" ball. You don't get 125 with an offensive plan. You get it because you can't get your guys to slow down.
And so, in pictures:
Ghetto (both of them):
And, the King: