One of the truthiest ideas in the NBA is that the San Antonio Spurs are boring. Google it, you’ll get more than 2.1 million results. If you’ve followed the NBA for any length of time over the past 15 or so years, you have certainly encountered this assertion. And a lot of it may have to do with the image of the Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan, a man so even keeled and pacific that this is how he gets ejected from games for flying off the handle:
Duncan has been the tent pole of the Spurs’ success over the past decade and a half, so its no surprise that we largely view them through the lens of him. But, suppose that lens is flawed. Suppose, we’ve never had the opportunity to see Tim Duncan in local commercials for the Texas store H-E-B. Behold:
Hi everyone! This week we’re back and in the excitement of getting into talk about the NBA Conference Finals we neglected to update you all on the state of our potential Mason Gordon interview. Well, maybe there was a reason we forgot, because he hasn’t gotten back to us. So that’s a drag. At any rate, this week’s podcast goes in depth in to the Spurs / Grizzlies and Heat / Pacers series, gets on a gnarly political tangent in response to Adrian Peterson’s anti-gay marriage comments, and plugs a really great basketball documentary we had the good fortune to attend a local screening of, “Doin’ It In The Park.” Check out the trailer below; its great. See you next week.
Hey everyone! We’re back again with this week’s podcast. Right at the front we cover some pretty interesting news that popped up following the Slam Ball story that went up last week. Also, the NBA playoffs, a lengthy diatribe against the incoherence of the NBA Players Association’s stance on the one-and-done rule for college basketball players, a critique of Bryce Harper running into the outfield wall in Dodger Stadium like a maniac, and of course Game Time, where I try to recall the last ten Stanley Cup winners. That’s right, we end on hockey. See you all next week.
At one point in this week’s podcast, Dano managed to recall the name of the creator of Slam Ball: Mason Gordon. This guy:
Look at that cocked hat, aimed right at the camera so viewers immediately know what’s what. Just like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, Gordon was always closing, repping Slam Ball as a new sport that was going to take the world by storm. It was televised early on and I recall from these broadcasts that Slam Ball gyms were supposedly being constructed across the country and that my attitude toward that statement was one of curiosity. I wasn’t too cool to immediately dismiss the union of several gymnastics trampolines with basketball– at least not right away. Looking at the Slam Ball wikipedia page now, the sport was apparently founded (founded?) in 2002, though this year does not match up with my recollection of having watched it high school (along with Temptation Island). But that was a heady, weird time in TV, as reality TV was just taking off and sports promotion executives were open to new things. Remember, this is just after we all cringed through a whole season of the XFL, which was aired on NBC, don’t forget.
So I may have watched Slam Ball during the summer after my freshman year in college, when I was living back at my parents’ house and all my friends from my high school basketball team were back in town for what we did not realize would be our last extended period of time together. As we discussed on the podcast, Slam Ball was basketball with lacrosse rules, played with trampolines, in a hockey rink. But most of the players in the Slam Ball league were playground hero basketball players, not lax bros looking to take someone’s head off. So this created a weird dynamic where the announcers were forced to constantly repeat the Slam Ball rules to an audience expecting to see basketball– while at the same time the coaches were forced to do the same for their players. Eventually the players started to come around and highlights of Slam Ball games began to come into their own.
But Slam Ball at its core was a gimmick: it claimed the cultural cache of the past several decades of athletes perfecting basketball as its own and promised to deliver something even more amazing. But on final analysis, the emperor had no clothes; we could see the trampolines. Though they were never hidden or obscured, the trampolines were Slam Ball’s fatal flaw because they were inauthentic in a way that is clearly apparent when seeing the sport in action. Slam Ball players use no athletic ability bouncing seven or eight feet in the air. Certainly, they have to exert some body control– as well as manage their momentum and trajectory so they don’t go flying over the backboard– but the dunks in a Slam Ball game are fundamentally not amazing. Only when looking through the lens of basketball can one call seeing someone’s entire body above the rim amazing. In Slam Ball, that kind of thing should happen every play. Once this became clear, and as more skilled Slam Ball players began delivering actual amazing Slam Ball plays– which often consisted of complex bouncing schemes on the four trampolines– I began to feel the gravity of actual basketball again, and to have an even better appreciation for the people who made Gordon want to come up with something like Slam Ball in the first place. Like, Michael Jordan.
(Check out George Gervin’s face in the bottom right of that photo. Priceless.) Nowadays Slam Ball is apparently trying to make some headway in the Chinese market. Slamball.com is a repository for Counter Strike maps and WarCraft tutorials in Danish. Slamball.net, Slam Ball’s home on the internet, has broken links and is in a general state of disrepair. That odd moment in the early 2000s has passed and reality TV has gotten so much worse. We moved away, all of us, from southern California and I’ve yet to run into one of those Slam Ball gyms.
Hey everyone! We’re back after having been away simmering, cooking up a new format that will take all of the ALTTAB you know and love and distill it into a purer form. I guess in the analogy, ALTTAB is like crystal meth or crack rock and you’re all junkies for our zero-additive sports-themed nonsense stories. So, you’re welcome for that. Game time is pretty great this week, as Dano and I detail the states in our great union that do not mark a college football/basketball/hockey coach as their highest paid employee. The results will surprise you. Also, we hash out the nature of Mormonism, especially with respect to white people in Utah. If that seems like a tautology, then you agree with me and Dano is wrong. Which he is. ALTTAB is back in business podcasting. See you next week.