Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LeBron James
- Screw-ups are inevitable when playing basketball.
- Here's the definitive guide for how to deflect blame away from yourself when something goes horribly wrong on the court.
We’ve all been there. And if you say you haven’t, you’re straight up lying.
Everyone has experienced a moment of vivid embarrassment on the court. And when it happens — whether you got dunked on, crossed up, or in the case below, threw up an eye-popping air ball — every hooper needs a go-to excuse to deploy when the moment of exposure occurs.
Last Wednesday night, 20-year NBA veteran Vince Carter launched a brick off the side of the backboard. What transpired next was one of the game’s glorious subtleties.
Rule #1 of basketball: Never fall.
Rule #2 of basketball: If you hit the side of the backboard, always wipe your hands on your shirt and make sure you do it in such a demonstrative way that everyone sees it and understands it was the reason for your lack of skill.
DeSagana Diop may have been the MVP of this. Watch him make this flawless execution look so natural.
So I posed the question: What other acts of diversion do ballers of all levels participate in when this situation presents itself?
The 10 best responses serve as the definitive guide for how to blame everything but yourself to save your reputation:
1. Blowing in hands
It’s 95 degrees in this gym? No it’s not, for me it’s actually a little chilly and I can’t feel my hands. Do you not see me blowing in them? If they were the proper temperature, I would not miss, I promise.
We’ve seen this more times than we can ever count, but what you are about to witness is the single-greatest moment in NBA excuse history. Elfrid Payton, one-time point guard for the Orlando Magic, air-balls not just one — but two free throws in a row.
Make sure the camera is on you before doing it. This is essential.
2. Follow through gooseneck
Your form is fine. Don’t let anyone try to tell you differently. Keep practicing and flaunting it to everyone because it was not your fault. There had to be a huge gust of AC or something. It’s the only explanation.
3. Exaggerate your injury
Hamstring feeling a little tender? Amazing how it always feels a little gimpy when you miss the rim by three feet.
Some players will go to unthinkable lengths to get this done.
And as soon as you make your first shot after the injury…
Grab your shoulder and rotate it like it’s stiff. You’re not at full strength, you slept on it wrong.
4. Call your shot
If you scream “off” or “short” or “left” or “right” before the ball gets halfway to the rim, it becomes your teammates’ responsibility to comprehend this command and act accordingly.
Could you have just made the shot and saved everyone the trouble? Sure, but, YOU warned them. If they don’t want to listen, then they are bad teammates.
5. Flexing wrist and closing/unclosing your fist
Need that wrist for holding the form. If its stiffness was the reason for your poor shot attempt, use the time it takes the other team to locate your brick to stretch your hands and make sure they’re properly prepared next time.
6. Declare your unselfishness
You are an unselfish player. You are trying to make your squad better before yourself. It is incredibly noble. When you miss a shot terribly, let them know your intentions were never to shoot — instead, the shot attempt was disguised as a pass.
7. Blame the equipment
You know when players miss a free throw and all they want to do is grip the ball?
This is dual-threat act: It serves as a confirmation that the ball’s texture and surface quality meet the qualifications necessary to touch your hands, while simultaneously explaining to the other players on the court that the grip is the culprit for any future inaccuracy.
The rim is crooked. It has to be.
8. Blame someone else
Blame the sun.
Blame the open gym door.
Blame your shoes by demonstratively squeaking them and displaying their lack of traction.
Blame their bad breath.
Tell them you had no other choice but to take a terrible shot because of their basketball incompetence.
It all plays.
9. Blame yourself
On every basketball court throughout the history of time, there has always been at least one “MY BAD!” guy on either team.
Throw the ball out of bounds? My bad! Dribble it off your foot and give up the game-winning breakaway? My bad! Didn’t know you were passing it to me? My bad!
But sometimes it’s your bad for reasons you can’t control. You didn’t choose to have bad eyesight. God did this. Objects may be closer than they appear.
Just ask JR Smith, who will always remind you that when things go wrong it was because he can’t see.
10. Be too proud to call fouls
Did you not see that? I could have definitely called a foul, but I didn’t because I’m not soft like that. If you didn’t hit me and invade my landing space I would have made the shot.
Be vociferous with this action. Scream “AND ONE” like Carlos Boozer but not “BALL” so play doesn’t stop.
Let everyone on the court know that you’re old school — “we don’t call that soft ass shit here,” and they better not call it when you do it to them on defense.
Boom, you have instantly spin-zoned a blooper into a completely different conversation, which positions you as the alpha.
Getting buckets isn’t just a basketball culture; it’s a lifestyle. Be prepared with these tools the next time you lace ’em up; you never know when you’ll need to defend your honor.