The FreeDarko Early Hoops Gang
Let me take you on journey. It began with an email from Chris of The Chicago Sports Review, curious what FD would make of this foray in period-specific baseball recreation. Specifically, he wondered what NBA players would be best suited for a comparable basketball experiment.
What followed was not pretty. It consumed my day, and was peppered with arguments over what phase of "early ball" we would recreate, plenty of half-assed internet research, and a weighty pause while all of us read Jason Whitlock's vast recital of truth regarding the NFL's inherent injustice. By the time the last afternoon Law and Order had expired, we'd come up with parameters: Naismith's 1894 original thirteen, plus dribbling, which was added two years later. We went with nine on our squad; initially, there was no limit placed on the number of players, but nine soon became the standard.
Another question was whether we were looking to humorously fit today's athletic dynamos into that rustic era, or pick guys best-suited—in game and general aesthetic—to late nineteenth-century ball. This led to an all-important concern: would our hypothetical group implement the culture of this prehistoric idiom, or just the rules? It's not entirly clear that shot blocking, dunking, and jump shooting are prohibited by Naismith, but it would be nearly five decades before they all became regular features of the sport. What we now present you with, then, is a roll call of nine players who, for various reasons, could be spirited back in time without raising a peep.
Wally Szczerbiak: Naismith devised the game in the spirit of "muscular Christianity," a health=morality , morality=health dictum then preached in WASP education. I guess Szczerbiak is a lousy ethnic by '96 standards, but he looks the part for our purposes.
Rip Hamilton: Shit was all about moving without the ball back then, since you couldn't budge with it. MWB is practically Rip City's European postal code.
Ron Artest: I won't bother linking to any of the ten posts in which I call him a deranged throwback, but peep this quote from Wikipedia:
"while the YMCA was responsible for initially developing and spreading the game, within a decade it discouraged the new sport, as rough play and rowdy crowds began to detract from the YMCA's primary mission."
Deron Williams: Seems perfect, what with his solid build and character, no-frills ball distribution, and questionable speed.
The Barry Brothers: DLIC insisted on their inclusion. As he put it: "there's something kind of vaudevillian/P.T. Barnum, turn-of-the-century circus freak about them." But maybe that's because he kept referring to them as "The Barry Twins."
Brad Miller: It's been suggested that Miller would be a natural for the international game, but this is his real calling. Never a threat to do anything that excludes Shaq's presence, he can also pass like the dickens without ever seeming precious about it. That, friends, is a real basketball classic.
Tim Duncan: Like you can have anything remotely about traditional basketball and not include Duncan.
Kobe Bryant: No, he doesn't fit in at all. Give him an hour, though, and he'd become this game's unquestioned master.