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Basketball On The Big Screen: White Men Can’t Jump

September 3, 2015 by  
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The provocatively-titled Hollywood blockbuster White Men Can’t Jump was released in 1992, and played on the numerous racial stereotypes surrounding the game of basketball. Many people blindly state that basketball is a “black man’s game”, despite the presence throughout NBA history of a number of Hall of Fame white players such as Larry Bird. An equally common stereotype is that the white players who do make a team are invariably the steady hands of the team rather than flair players – something Larry Bird also disproved.

In White Men Can’t Jump, Woody Harrelson plays Billy, a down on his luck former college ball player who has no job and makes his money playing ball against street players. In the most part these opponents are black, and assume that Billy will be an easy match because he is white. Billy does nothing to encourage this assumption, allowing the opponents to make their mistake without him needing to lie. Of course, Billy turns out to be a fantastic player and wins his fair share of cash.

The film is given its impetus by the acquaintance Billy makes with a man named Sidney, played by Wesley Snipes. Sidney is one of the many street ballers who loses t

o Billy, but unlike the others he decides to turn the situation to his advantage, with the two pairing up to win money from a string of opponents. As with all such films, the friendship goes sour, only to be rescued in the end by the bond that the two have struck up. The title comes from the assumption that white players are unable to dunk the ball, an assumption disproved in the end by Billy, who makes a dunk in the film’s crucial scene to win the pair $5000.

It’s a Tall Order

September 3, 2015 by  
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Ask a hundred people what word comes to mind when they think about basketball, and there is a fairly good chance that as many as half of them will say “Tall”. Perhaps more than any other sport, basketball has the association with body shape that can put off a lot of young players. Some think because they’ll never grow to six feet tall that they can’t ever have a shot at being a pro basketball player. While it is true that basketball is dominated by taller men, it just isn’t the case that you need be a six or seven-foot giant. It may help in terms of being able to dunk the ball, but not everyone on court is going to do that anyway.

Perhaps the most notable case of a basketball player who was shorter than the rest of his team was the former Charlotte Hornets point guard Muggsy Bogues. Although the target of some gentle teasing for his height – a tiny 5’ 3, small even by the standards of non-sportsmen – Bogues was a player who had genuine success in the game, enjoying a career which spanned more than a decade, with his fast-passing, hustling game earning him the very genuine respect of a number of people who would not have believed him capable of what he achieved.

Height is an advantage in pro basketball – there is no pretending otherwise. It gives you a better perspective on the basket, more of a chance to slam dunk the ball, and allows you to put up a formidable defensive barrier. However, growing to be seven feet tall will not guarantee you a successful basketball career, and being in the mid fives will not on its own prevent you.

NBA Legends: Shaquille O’Neal

September 3, 2015 by  
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In 1996, voting was carried out to decide upon the 50 greatest ever NBA players. At the time, eleven of the players named were active NBA ballers. As of 2010, only one is still active: Shaquille O’Neal. Often referred to by his nickname, a shortened version of his first name (Shaq), O’Neal has recently become the oldest active player in the league – and he has been big news ever since he first entered the league back in 1992. “Big” is the perfect choice of word, in fact, as Shaq stands at 7’ 1 and has weighed as much as 325 during his career – making him one of the heaviest pro basketball players ever to play the game.

O’Neal began his career with the Orlando Magic, being selected with the first pick of that year’s NBA Draft. His size and scoring ability were desperately needed by the Magic, at that time a franchise of little note, and in his second season O’Neal was instrumental in taking the Magic to their first-ever playoff appearance. They would go all the way to the NBA Finals in his third season in 1994, where they would eventually be defeated in a 4-0 series sweep by the Houston Rockets.

It would take a move to the Los Angeles Lakers for O’Neal to finally experience the ultimate team achievement in basketball, winning the NBA Championship in 2000. The Lakers would repeat this achievement in 2001 and 2002, due in no small part to the contribution of Shaq

Showing Your True Colors

September 3, 2015 by  
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The importance of merchandising to professional basketball teams has always been high, but the recent past has seen the saturation of an industry, with merchandise becoming so prominent that some sports have even gone so far as to provide branded coffins for fans who wish to be buried in their team’s colors. Although professional basketball has yet to go to this extent, there is little else that remains unbranded in this day and age. When your baby is born, you can buy it some clothes in the team’s colors, ensuring that if they aren’t going to leave this world in team merchandise, their early days can at least be a display of team loyalty.

The most obvious form of merchandise is the team replica jersey. The reasons for this are fairly obvious. Sitting in the arena watching the team play, any fan will naturally feel so much a part of the team that they wish they could play. The next best thing to playing for the team is to at least be able to dress like a player, and it also gives a chance to wear a replica team vest with your favorite player’s name and number on it. this forms a very firm bond between fan and team, something which makes for a greater atmosphere at games.

It is not uncommon to see musicians appear on stage or in videos wearing their team’s replica jerseys. Showing an identity
connection with your team allows you to send a message to other fans and attract goodwill – something that sport is notable for fostering.

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