I'm Having a Damn Ball

Written by Matt Morchower

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

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The Item In Question: Can You Name It?

Since when did all commentary on basketball, incorporate the word, "Basketball?"

I watched way too much of the NBA Playoffs. The only thing more infuriating that seeing LeBron James win a championship, was listening to the announcers' jargon.

All you have to do is listen to ABC commentator and apparent calculus genius Mike Breen say with puzzling enthusiasm for 579 consecutive games, "Let's Break Down the Numbers for this Basketball Game."

How do you break down a number? Are they physical items, to which you can take a hammer? Or, are they emotional, and you can break down their emotions and defenses?

But that sentence also showed the phrase that is nails on my mental blackboard: "…for this Basketball Game." Paging Mike Breen, I know it's a "Basketball Game."

The giveaways? The ball is orange and shot at a basket. The players average 6'8." The logos of the teams often incorporate basketballs. It's not football season. And there are no pucks, boxing gloves, horses, golf clubs, wickets, lacrosse sticks, racquets, pools, finish lines, kayaks, skis, rifles, or Scrabble boards.

Plus, I'm not an imbecile.

But let's do as you say, Mike, and "Break Down the Numbers" with your partner, Basketball Analyst Jeff van Gundy, who did not "Coach Basketball" that well with the Knicks or Rockets, as I don't remember him winning any Basketball Championships. Additionally, van Gundy is about 5'9". Not to be height-ist, but what 6'8" player is going to take a 5'8" coach seriously? Half the time the players can't even hear what he is saying from down below. Next, the players can fit him in their pockets.

But as long as he makes clear to us viewers that we know that he knows they are "Playing Basketball," I guess he feels he is building credibility.

Jeff Van Gundy Expression #1: "Score the Basketball." Such as. "Russell Westbrook's strength is he can Score The Basketball."

Can't you just say, "Score?" I swear, Jeff: we'd get it. The phrase is not even proper grammar. It's proper nonsense. To be accurate, you "Score a basket WITH the ball." To "Score The Basketball" sounds like you are judging a routine the basketball performed. Such as, "Russell Westbrook just Scored the Basketball. He gave it a 5.8 for technical merit, and 5.5 for artistic impression."

Or another van Gundy favorite: "Dwyane Wade can really Shoot the Basketball." An act once simply described by the word, "Shoot." Does this one need clarification? Perhaps, as I guess there are sporting alternatives to "Shooting a Basketball:" "Plaxico Burress can really Shoot Himself in the leg." Or, still my all-time favorite, "Dick Cheney can really Shoot His Friend in the face."

How about when van Gundy says, "Coach Brooks has taught his team to Guard the Basketball." Known to most humans as, "Play defense." Let's see: A) First, the team is certainly not guarding a football, bowling ball, or hairball. B) The team is actually guarding the PLAYER with the ball...not the BALL itself. The ball isn't going to do anything on its own.

Next time you're playing with your friends in the gym, tell them before the game, "Guys, quick strategy session. We need to Guard the Basketball, and Score the Basketball." See if they look at you as if you were hit in the head…with the Basketball.

It's all so reminiscent of how Tiger Woods speaks. That is, when he's not telling us he has recovered from the days when the ringtone on his cellphone was the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do it in the Road."

TigerSpeak is language with it's own built-in, idiot-proof redundancy: "Baltusrol is a tough Golf Course. But I hit a great Golf Shot to close out the Golf Tournament."

We know you went to Stanford, Tiger. But we still know the little white sphere is a golf ball. And not a rugby ball.

He also has used the self-explanatory word "Golf" in other obvious circumstances: such as "My ex-wife knocked me senseless with a Golf Club when she found out I boinked 122 women."

But it all comes back to where we started: the Basketball. Mike Breen: "LeBron James likes to Drive the Basketball." This especially comes in handy when his Range Rover is in the shop.

I used to love watching basketball on TV. Now this endless repetition makes me want to join LeBron James as he Drives the Basketball…hopefully off a cliff.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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