Don’t overlook one fact… most basketball pundits are former basketball players and while they were undoubtedly better then us average joes at using their muscles to play the game, being an expert is a thinking man’s game. You’re undoubtedly better at using the muscle over your shoulders.
You’ve already met lots of their counterparts during your own life. While most of them were banging cheerleaders in high school you were developing the tools that prevented your career by the fry cooker hearing them talk about the glory days when they were 17. The difference upstairs between these guys who make it and that guy now serving you drinks is not a large stretch.
Just follow these tips and you’ll be wowing people with your incredible basketball knowledge in no time. Without further adieu, one tip for each player on a b-ball team.
1. Know All The High School Players
Know everyone who jumped from high school to the pros and didn’t play NCAA basketball. This one is imperative (you’ll find out why in step 2) and easy because the list is relatively small. KG, Kobe, Lebron, Amare will cover nearly all conversations you intend to impress in. Knowing guys like Leon Smith (who went crazy) or Kwame Brown (who was the first #1 HS pick, and was a bust) will get you extra points but aren’t necessary.
Its not difficult to know all the foreign players either. They’re all the ones with funny names and stylish hair. If you hear someone with a funny name, say, Petrovich, or Galinari or if you have trouble spelling their name when you hear it, better just to avoid talking about them. This is really an important step to faking because the holy grail of faking basketball expertise is next. No funny name? Lack of great looking almost homosexual hair? Their name is something like Smith, or Williams? You’re ready for step two. Jump right into the conversation and say…
2. “Man, I Remember When”
Under any and all circumstances, when a player is mentioned, speak up loudly stating “Man, that guy, I remember when he played in College. He tore it UP!” Now you know why step 1 is so important. If you don’t know who went from high school to the pros you can get nailed by someone else with a “You idiot, KG didn’t play in college!” Major loss of cred and double depressing because you just made someone else, who may also be faking, look really smart because he followed step 1 instead of you.
The beauty part of this line is that you don’t have to know anything else. No one will ‘ever’ ask you for details of what you remember in college. There are so many NCAA teams its not expected for you to remember where almost anyone played. No one ever watches anything but march and its so many games at once no one ever remembers who played each other or what happened. If you do know something make sure to throw it in there for Jedi Master level respect. Anyone who knows some details about college players must be an expert, right?
“Man, Melo and Macnamera. The Orange were unstoppable that year. Over rated? I don’t think so!” People will be so intimidated by the mere mention of details regarding a college event that entire rooms of people will start nodding their heads in agreement hoping that others think they know what you are talking about and they will look like YOU, an expert.
3. Pick A Player To Love
Every expert has one player they devote themselves to unconditionally. Every fake expert should have one too. Its not relevant who you pick so long as once you choose the recipient of your new man-love you refuse to budge on any interpretation of his behavior that does not fall under spectacular, amazing or divinely guided.
So long as they score lots of points they will have easy to defend stats. The axiom of basketball talent evaluation is: if you score more points per game, you ‘are’ the better player. This makes hyping your favorite easy. Great examples: Dwayne Wade (29.9) > Lebron James (28.6) > Kobe Bryant (27.7) > Tim Duncan (19.8). You can have a few players reach this status, however not too many because…
4. More Importantly Pick A Player To HATE.
An expert, you see, is always very picky and judgmental about who meets their high standards. If you’re critical of a player who’s obviously really, really good it must mean you know something they and everyone else does not. Thus, you are a more credible and discerning expert. The logic follows: the larger list of greats you think stink simply varies directly with the list of reasons you know what your talking about. Gary Payton, one of the best defensive point guards to ever play HATES Rajon Rondo, the best defensive point guard to play today. Coincidence? I think not!
Good examples of players to pick to hate: Kobe, Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Ron Artest, Stephon Marbury, Bruce Bowen. (see how my hate list is longer?)
Historical hate list all star: Karl Malone.
5. When In Doubt, Get Bullish.
There is no more powerful tool in ballshitting then Michael Jordan. Despite the fact that Jordan will land on the love OR hate list of every single basketball expert alive no expert will ever attempt to argue against an MJ comparison. Many the Kobe super-fan pundit has been roasted trying to compare the two.
Two methods of getting bullish exist. The first is to reference cliche Jordan quotes as if they were your own fantastic insights. Slip in a “Defense wins championships”, “I was looking for a new challenge” or any reference to the importance of fundamentals and lesser competition shrink in the face MJ’s fierce ‘competitiveness’. They won’t suspect for a moment it’s actually your discrete laziness at work.
The second method is to bait your adversary into making a statement about a player or team that is general in any sense so you can turn it into a historical comparison to MJ and the Bulls.
Casual Fan: “Did you see LA hand it to the Celtics and the Cavs last week? ”
Expert: (to self: man, what do I do, I LOVE Lebron and the Celtics and HATE Kobe. Those games were excruciating to watch.) “Yea, I saw some of it. The highlights looked decent. How did they play? ”
Casual Fan: “Man, this Lakers team is amazing!”
Expert: “You think so huh? Why’s that? (
“…but they just have no way to contain Dwayne Wade at the end of the game.”
“…but they seem to really have problems defending Lebron in the pick and roll.”
“…but you have to wonder about the schedule they’ve been on, there’s been no Wade calibre players.”
Just remember, what you lack in specifics you make up for with authority. So the louder you speak and the more you flail around (like this expert on the right, seriously!!) the more people will think you’re actually getting excited about something real instead of just making shit up.
7. Learn To Hate The NBA And It’s Officials
This is a critical step on the journey of any basketball expert: real or fictional. At any juncture your credibility as an expert can be expounded on by mentioning how the NBA is fixed by David Stern and/or it’s refs. Seeing as how one of their boys in black and white was indited for working with the mob to fix games its not a difficult case to make.
Note ‘Fredo Style’ facial expression Some cliches that will assist you in the task are as follows:
“The only reason the Lakers won their titles was the Refs. The Kings and/or Blazers were robbed!”
“How could Phoenix win when they suspended Amare? The Suns were robbed!”
“David Stern? Everyone knows he fixed the draft lottery when the Knicks got Ewing. The entire league was ROBBED!”>
Learn these and a few more shady situations with the refs. One of them even challenged Tim Duncan to a fight in the parking lot once and the NBA assigned him to ref a Spurs playoff game a year after. Fish in a barrel, see what I mean? You’ll have people looking to you for advice on their fantasy teams in no time.
8. Learn A Few Famous Moments To Reminisce With Hardcore Fans
This is a gimme. If you can loosely quote the commentator or reference a few watershed moments around fans or a particular player or team, you’re ‘in’ like spandex during the 80’s. The key here is to wait for someone else to bring up the topic so you can look knowledgeable when you complete their thoughts with the correct emotive response. They’ll be so taken with the mention of their personal experience they won’t even notice you don’t know jack squat about hoop. Upon any mention of:
Chris Webber: say enthusiastically “Time out time out!”. Michigan/Webber fans will be crushed into submission that you know their dark secret and say nothing or change the topic as quickly as possible.
Allen Iverson: say sarcastically with a drawl “Practice!?!?”
Lakers: say fondly “Man, Magic’s baby hook baby”
Celtics: say joyfully “Havlicek stole the ball!” (extra points if you say Henderson with a wink)
Bulls: say as if you had a mouth full of marbles “A spectacular move by Jordan”
Lattrel Spreewell: say sardonically “Hey, my family’s gotta eat. I can’t choke them!”
Karl Malone: say like your IQ is in the 80’s “I’m the MVP!”
Ron Artest: punch the person in the face and say “Sorry, thought you threw a beer at me.” Use ‘crazy eyes’ for extra points.
Clippers: say dejectedly “Uh, why am I a Clippers fan anyway?”
9. Overstate Championship Experience
It just doesn’t matter that 5 of the last 10 NBA champions never made the finals before. It also doesn’t matter that 11 of the last 20 NBA finalists never made the finals before. And that does not even include Kobe’s new team last year that was totally different sans Shaq or Spurs sans Robinson. What does matter is championship experience!
The rule follows as such: if two teams are being compared always say the one who made the finals or won them are better because of their ‘experience’. The fact they made the finals is not only an indicator they are among the most talented teams and are winning because of that. No sir! Its the ‘magical’ experience.
You’ll hear plenty of pundits overstate how the Spurs have the experience advantage this year which makes it a great statement to hide your lack of knowledge behind cuz everyone else is saying it too.
When a younger team takes down the experienced team express shock and awe that they didn’t win the game/series. When the Spurs knocked the champion Shaq/Kobe Lakers out of the playoffs in the second round, Bill Walton’s confidence in LA’s experience induced him to call it “The Greatest Win In Spurs History!” even though 4 years earlier they won the title. The disbelief in his voice… genuine shock.
You may want to break out the ‘passing the torch’ cliche for this event. It couples greatly with always giving the edge to the team with the better record. When you pick the team that won before AND has the best record no one will dare challenge your ability to repeat obvious statements you heard on TV or read on-line.
10. Dumpster Dive For Bench Players
Anyone can be a basketball expert. As I’m saying, anyone can fake it. But only ‘real’ experts have the innate ability to tell who the ‘good yet still crappy’ players are. Right? Wrong! There are a few approaches to selecting who will be the recipient of your gracious praise for playing limited minutes in garbage time.
- The safe approach: Pick an aging veteran who has a rich history but can’t play to save his life due to 4 knee reconstructions and 32 STDs. This is the easy out as you can wax poetic about the player they used to be and even still get excited when they get inserted into a playoff game and knock down a wide open shot or two to win a game. Guys like Jerry Stackhouse, Robert Horry and Michael Finley are great examples of players pundits have ridden to historic careers of blabbing bullshit.
- The Fan Favorite: This guy is a truly crappy player whom a stadium’s fans will cheer hysterically for any time they actually manage to score a point or make a play that doesn’t result in a turnover. They’ll even get ovations merely for being checked into a game. Brian Scalenbrine, Mark Madsen and Matt Bullard are all players fans have connected with because after watching them play live they realize that someone on the floor actually has comparable basketball skills to themselves and form a special connection. Its a beautiful thing.
- The Energy/Defense Guy: You can spot this player when the team is down 20 in the fourth diving into old/pregnant women’s bosoms for loose balls. Everyone knows he’s got very little talent. But he knows that almost all NBA players are mailing in an 82 game season before anything they care about is on the line. So he can have a role in the league working his butt off to frustrate the Vince Carters of the world. Sometimes an energy guy gets credit for being a ‘defensive ace’. Bruce Bowen’s PR guy has managed to pull off transforming drop kicking players into DPOY nominations. Sometimes he just turns out to be a Pape Sow/Amundson. For sentimental reasons he’s a great choice cuz at least he tries.
11. Learn The Brutal NBA PR Slogans
‘Every’ NBA expert loves to sarcastically quote the NBA PR campaigns and so should you! Should always be delivered with a sense of irony, a tongue in the cheek and a wink in the eye roll. They are:
I love this game!
There Can Only Be One!
Where AMAZING happens!
The NBA… Its FANNNNNNNNtastic!
And with that bit of Shakespearian genius… its time for the last tip…
12. Oh! Those PUNdits!
“NEVER” Pass Up An Opportunity To Make A Bad Pun. NEVER! I truly believe they let these ex-player/jocks write their own headlines. Check out ESPN and you’ll see them every day of the week. How clever and original they must feel. “Mavs Cool Down Heat”, “Suns Scortch Knicks”, “Mountaineers have tough climb“, “Jets fly by Giants”, “Wolves Bite Pistons”. Oh… the wit! It makes my brain bleed.
And there you have it. 12 sure fire ways to fool everyone around you into thinking you have a clue about the pro game. They will not steer you wrong. Remember, you’re probably smarter then the people on TV and those that listen to them in the first place. Good luck screwing up as many playoff bets and college brackets as possible. Even if you are guessing there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be doing the exact same thing as they are, so no harm done!