If only for one moment you could imagine the sport of hoops played without gravity. You’ve probably clicked out of this article already, good for you, congratulations. I’m talking to you today about anti-gravity basketball because it could potentially be a very real phenomenon that affects our everyday lives in the not too distant future. If you haven’t clicked out of this article yet, here’s another opportunity to do so. For those so curious as to where this is going, I advise you to put on your imagination cap and roll on with me through the galaxies as we explore this fantastical idea.
Now, I’ve previously written about this phenomenon earlier this year, much to the chagrin of a great deal of folks who would rather read a cut and dry basketball article that gives you “facts” or “opinions” or “scalding hot takes” or “bitterly cold takes”. Some said that it was a waste of time, I say that there’s a gap in sports journalism that is so cavernous and great that only the fanciest ideas can fill it. I assure you that those cut and dry sports articles will exist in the breadth of this website, but allow me to be the casual dinner with a lover at an Ethiopian café that is just down the street from your house, but you’re too afraid to try, until you do with said lover and you have a great time but never go back again because of indigestion and an immature palate. Let me be that Ethiopian restaurant for you.
Basketball sans gravity is a relatively exciting idea, for it removes everything that makes the sport what it is, yet relies on the same grounded rules: put the dang ball in the hoop. Perhaps this is something that the professional ranks would adore as travelling would be eliminated entirely. You’d have to rely solely on momentum as you float from one station to another. It’d take a great deal of skill to be able to properly propel one’s self from one wall to the next, or from one body to the next, or from backboard to backboard. There are fixed objects all around to aid you in this conquest.
Dribbling would be nonexistent.
Scoring would take a lot of teamwork, as the ball is forced from one player to another to advance towards the goal. Since all players are suspended in air, this would allow for a great deal of artistry with the orange orb. Think of it more as handball without the restrictive gravitational pull. Think of it like pong.
I would routinely lay awake at night, staring skyward towards my ceiling, pondering all the ins and outs of the game. I waste a great deal of mental energy to decide if there’s such a thing as out-of-bounds, if the court would need to be fitted with extra equipment to keep the players safe as they haplessly bounce off the walls, if utilizing a basketball filled with lead instead of air would be more worthwhile to the integrity of the game, if the scoreboard operator needed to be bolted down to the floor, if the referees required some sort of aircraft to maintain vigilance throughout the game, if the sports drink would simply float in air in liquid form, available to the players whenever they needed a bout of sugar and vitamin b.
When you’re given an opportunity to ask a division one player their thoughts on the issue without extensive briefing, the answers are usually hollow and short, simply entertaining the thought. Yet, only once every so often is one presented with a temperament laid back enough to counter the spacey thoughts of a madman with their own questions and their own brilliant answers.
Ronnie Harrell just happened to be this individual.
When broached with the question of how he’d fare in this utopian, science fiction basketball league, Harrell quickly retorted,
“I’d be dunking on everyone, every time. I’d be unstoppable. I’d be in the league, you wouldn’t even be talking to me right now.”
On what his points per game would be, in this fictitious basketball arrangement, Harrell calculated his innate abilities,
“20 minute halves. You’ve got two halves. Every time I touch the ball – what, 15, 20 times? maybe a little bit more – a bucket every single time. So, 20 x 2, 40, times that by another 2, 80. I would average 80 points. That’s it. I’d be in the league by now.”
When I asked him what his eventual award for most outstanding player would look like, he responded,
“The MTV awards? The astronaut dude? He’d have a basketball, and a Bluejays uniform on.”
A sweatband around the helmet, perhaps?
“There you go.”
His inaugural team name?
“The Creighton… I want to say like… Nü-Jays.”
I wandered about the room, wondering who else would stand out among the anti-gravity game, and soon found myself in the deep and intellectual waxing of ideas with Cole Huff. After sharing thoughts on his beautiful mid-range jump shot, I eventually broached the subject about the fictitious premise. He waited a beat before answering, then responded,
“I think it’d be tricky, I think I’d get the hang of it since I don’t jump too much or run too fast, so I’d use my touch, use my mid-range game that you’re talking about.”
The thought of offensive prowess with the Bluejays wasn’t a collective thought, however. When I asked Khyri Thomas whether he’d fare well sans gravity his outlook was a bit more realistic.
“I’d do horrible. I’m athletic, I do a lot of sprinting and jumping in the game of basketball, I’d probably do horrible. I’d be a good passer!”
The mysteries of the final frontier are daunting and awfully expensive. With enough capital and a rocket ship to the stars, we can make basketball fun again by removing all gravity. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to see Cole Huff take a mid-range jumper with Jupiter in view, or see Ronnie Harrell dunking over everyone while venturing through the Andromeda galaxy. Heck, we might even be so lucky to have Khyri Thomas assisting both of them.
For now, we’re damned to observe this sport in its original and earthy form - with gravity, three point shots from absurd range, and vicious Kobe Paras dunks from what seems to be outer space.
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