The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on August 17, 1980 · Page 9
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 9

Bloomington, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 17, 1980
Page 9
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The Sunday Pantagraph, Aug. 17, 1980 A-9 How you may become basketball addict i"In Missouri, basketball star Bill Bradley used to position chairs in his driveway to indicate defenders, and he would dribble in and out of them while wearing cardboard blinders designed to improve his peripheral vision. Jimmy 'the human' Rayl, the Big Ten's all-time leading scorer, learned the game on the second floor of a barn in Kokoma, Ind. And Don Nelson, who grew up in Iowa, had a unique incentive to make his corner shots as he was growing up: If he missed long, the ball would end up in a pile of chicken evidence." Coaches around the country who frown on such unorthodox strategies nonetheless are quick to applaud when they win, say hoop-playing authors Charles Wielgus Jr. and Alexander Wolff. They delve into the argot, attire, "forbidden fundamentals" and pecking order of street basketball and show how you just might be a potential addict to the game. First of an engaging two-part series excerpted from "The In-Your-Face Basketball Book." "What you doin', man? You a chump, tha's right, you ain't nothin' but a piehead. Come on, see if you can pull a move on me, jes' see." You're in the midst of a friendly game of One-on-One. It's your ball and you're cautiously backing in toward the basket as your opponent toys with your psyche. "What is this garbage, man? You playin' like Don Nelson, man. Like a chump." Remember when it was a compliment to be told you played like Dot Nelson, that poker-faced, fundamentally sound former Celtic forward? You spin around, make a quick crossover dribble from your right hand to jiour left and slip your right foot past one side of your defender. You lay the ball! on the fingertips of your left hand, coci it behind your left ear, and "Cliump! " float toward the basket, as he junges for the ball like King Kong swijing at the Statue of Liberty's torch. At fie last possible instant, burrowing towjrd the hoop, you bring the ball down to ypur waist and regurgitate it upward witlitwo hands. It skids in. Now it's your turn, "Ih your face." Y.iu've done it captured the magical monent that, if you're really honest, you' I admit is the object of every play round basketball encounter. If Chech and Chong were there, they woul have broken into a celebratory relation of "Basketball Jones." And if Dri James Naismith were there, he mijht well have understood, too. You sea the good Doctor was always pleased -,Jr ff Y J J A j i v i f K fU - .. fk Wielgus, Wolff that basketball moved outdoors. He collected pictures of some of the odd places he would find descendants of the original peach basket he tacked up on the balcony of the Springfield, Mass., YMCA Training School gymnasium back in the 1890s. Subculture Within the first two decades after the game's invention, hoops made their way onto telephone poles and into alleys and barnyards. But it's only been recently, since Dr. Naismith's death and basketball's export to all parts of the world, that the playground basketball subculture has emerged. The playground game really has everything an anthropologist would expect in a culture: its own vernacular, conventions, rituals, folk heroes and pecking order. It even has an ideal state in that unma tenable high known as "face." The term stems from colloquial American usage and the notions of saving face (or retaining one's self-respect) and losing it (or being utterly humiliated). , Transformed into the actual acts performed on the asphalt that deal with that self-respect, face comes with a shot by an opponent that is so completely rejected it ends up back in his face or as most know it a successful shot taken under trying conditions, with an opponent so close that the shot could be said to be taken "in your face." At the root of the expression, of course, are the individual player and his ego. In the cities, where playgrounds become the spots where self-styled superstars congregate to prove their worth, making an off-balance, lef-thanded running hook "in your face" is like graduating from school summa cum laude though your mother may not. see it that way. It's too simple to say face is merely a matter of oneupmanship; if it were, pick-up ball wouldn't have so many devotees among casual players mainly out for exercise. What lures and holds so many is the knowledge that when they get face, it will be a singular moment, entirely theirs, and nothing that happens subsequently not even the ultimate humiliation of an airball (a shot that touches neither rim nor backboard) will diminish it. Basket case It's a Vicious cycle, too; once you've gotten your first fix of face, you're in danger of becoming a basket case. Keep an eye out for symptoms. You'll start referring to the three major sports as baseball, football and ball. You'll refuse Best Books First of two to move the wastebasket in the far corner of the room closer to your desk. And it will seem as though some inexorable force is steering your car into the exact-change lanes of toll plazas. As playground products pour into organized basketball, they bring with them elements of the playground subculture. Lloyd Free, the bombs-away guard from Brooklyn, alternately calls himself "All-World" and "The Prince of Midair." To veteran basketball people, those in the front offices and coaching profession, Free's braggadocio and everything it suggests is revolutionary. Sportswriter Roy Blount Jr. picked up on it a recent newspaper column when he suggested that basketball follow the lead of baseball in one respect. Baseball, it will be remembered, appends information about plays of interest hit batsmen, for instance, or passed balls to its box scores. Blount's idea: to indicate both the perpetrator and victim of face jobs. In baseball we see "HBP Guidry (Burleson)"; in basketball we may soon see, in five-point type, "IYF Free (Twardzik)." To be sure, an ominous conflict is developing in organized ball as a result of the integration of schoolyard values into the game. Listen to this anguished cry from the Pacific Northwest, from Jack Avina, coach at the University of Portland, who told Sports Illustrated: "It bothers me that so many modern ECONOMY ROOFING, INSULATION & GUTTERING RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL Shingles - All Styles Hot Asphalt Buildup For Flat Roofs Fiberglass Buildup Insulated Roofs Insured 208 S. Oak Lexington, III. Graveled Roofs Blown Insulations Fiberglass Rockwool Cellulose Ventilation Guttering Seamless Aluminum White Steel Box Gutters Free Estimates Phone Anytime Lexington T -365-8706 Bloomington 827-5458 CAN nn STACK UP O OURS? JAMES C. MORRISON 1765 SHERIDAN ORtVe . YOU CITY, U.S.A. , IAY TO IMC ' I 1 126 ! ,00-6789 j .19 2345 -DOLLARS f " tavings and loan association Sample. voidi LINCOLN SAVINGS' N.O.W. ACCOUNT ED MONTHLY SERVICE CHARGE o (JO HUM BALANCE PLUS Earn 5Vi Daily Compounded Interest with a Companion Save-N-Pay Account. S airings and loan association 2205 E. WASHINGTON, BLOOMINGTON Ph. (309) 663-7371 OFFICES. BLOOMINGTON CARMI UNCOIN MASON CITY t 4 K 1 1 players are involved in the facade of making a show. I hear my kids in practice talking about 'face, face.' Sometimes players are more concerned about 'face' than winning the game." Prefer baroque Jack Avina, you're on to something. It explains why players prefer baroque, behind-the-back passes to crisp chest passes, why they persist in shooting lay-ups without using the backboard (which is contrary to what most coaches preach) and why, even though the double pump is a "poor percentage shot," players prefer it. It has high "face-return potential" and, given the choice, today's players will take the path least traveled upon. It'll make all the difference not necessarily in winning the game, but in making it memorable. More and more playground players are rejecting the Lombardian credo of "winning is the only thing" not because they don't care about doing well anymore, but because they've discovered that style is as important as substance. They've struck upon a middle ground that can be articulated best by paraphrasing Grantland Rice: When the One Great Scorer comes to write upon your name, he marks not whether you won or lost, but whether you got face or not. MONDAY: PART II. Copyright 1980 by Chuck Wielgus Jr. and Alexander Wolff. Reprinted with permission of Everest House. All Rights Reserved. FREE ESTIMATE Local & Long Distance MOVING Atlas. 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