Those of us in the basketball community have all heard the term basketball gods used before. We acknowledge these imaginary deities with phrases such as, “ball don’t lie” – suggesting the ball, and the game itself, is linked to some mystical thread of justice. The basketball gods, as we like to think, enact a certain moral balance.
I’ve played and watched enough basketball to see these deities at work, but the perception of how they work, much like in tacit religion, is impacted by your experiences and what you ultimately believe. When something inexplicable occurs in a game, we sometimes like to chalk it up to the basketball gods at work.
These are five sure-fire ways, in my experience, to piss off the basketball gods (talking generally from a player’s point of view):
- Gamble on defense – Good hardly comes from this unless you have high-IQ defensive players at each position. Even then, you’re usually going to pay for being overzealous. Patience is also a virtue in basketball. When you take chances trying to make a play and leave your teammates in a disadvantaged scenario, the basketball gods will punish you, usually in the form of an open shot or a layup.
- Be stagnant – Inactivity is not rewarded. The game requires timely movement and inclusion, so when the ball doesn’t move and players aren’t spacing properly for each other, the basketball gods are displeased and success is unlikely.
- Complaining to referees – I spoke on this on the last episode of Two Guard Front. I believe part of the mythos of the basketball gods is related to how much energy you spend complaining to or blaming the referees. You’re better off harnessing that energy and translating it into the next play, especially on the worst of calls. Wasting that energy on the refs can be disruptive to your basketball karma.
- Be selfish – The basketball gods absolutely reward unselfishness, whether it’s making an extra pass or taking a charge or helping the helper on defense. It’s also giving your teammate a high-five at the free throw line. These things boost morale, and they put a proverbial smile on the faces of the basketball gods.
- Lack confidence – I believe that aggression and conviction are rewarded. It’s why you’re more likely to get foul calls when you’re actively making efforts to get to the basket. Without the innate willingness to make things happen on the basketball court, at any capacity, you hinder your chances to receive blessings from the basketball gods.
It’s interesting – whenever you play basketball, you will eventually sense the presence of the basketball gods. When you’re patient, active, calm, unselfish, and confident, you’re much more likely to have them in your favor.
What’s also interesting is the fact that the football, baseball, soccer, or hockey gods are hardly referred to. Maybe I’m just not in those communities enough to know, but if that’s the case, the basketball gods are clearly the most popular.