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.


At 8/25/2006 7:30 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I started to think about this, and some good things were brewing, but then Eric Montross entered my mind and it wrecked everything.

Another fun exercise would be to do this for six-on-six basketball (only recently extinct). Three offensive players, three defensive players, nobody can cross half court.

Stu Scott just said "Illy Philly" and "There is only one team that can call themselves the defending Super Bowl champs, and it is that team right there!"

At 8/25/2006 7:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

montrose isn't mobile enough. MWB!!!!!!!!!!!

wait, what's six-on-six?

WV: exxun=exxon for the screw set

FUCK, there's a hurricane coming.

At 8/25/2006 7:55 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I don't know all the rules of six-on-six, but basically, you have 3 players on either side of the court and nobody can cross over. You get a board and you have to pass it across to the other half of your team. I have a vague recollection of limits on dribbling.

It was an old-style alternative that never caught on, but managed to survive in some states' girls' high school teams up until a few years ago. I remember seeing a few news clips when the last state stopped playing.

At 8/25/2006 8:16 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

More research. Six-on-six was mainly invented as a way for girls to play ball without having to run around so much. It seems to have reached its apex in Iowa (at least by the results of a google search) in the mid-20th century. I did find a few hits on "6-man basketball", but nothing of note about actual dudes playing, and nothing about the rules in a cursory skim. Just thinking about the possibilities is nutty though. Total alternate universe stuff.

Not to be missed: someone did produce a musical about it.

At 8/26/2006 4:44 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

I don't mean to derail the discussion of vintage hoops, but the story of six-on-six girls basketball was fascinating to me. I'd never heard of it, and who knew it was such a huge deal? From the inside flap of The Only Dance In Iowa: A History Of Six-Player Girls' Basketball by Max McElwain :


Iowa six-player girls’ basketball was the most successful sporting activity for girls in American history, at its zenith involving more than 70 percent of the girls in the state. The state tournament was so popular—regularly drawing fifteen thousand fans, more than the boys’ tourney—that officials even declined a lucrative broadcasting offer from ABC’s Wide World of Sports rather than forfeit the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union’s control of the game. The Only Dance in Iowa chronicles the one-hundred-year history of this Iowa tradition, long a symbol of the state’s independence and the people’s rural pride. Max McElwain shows how, well before the passage of Title IX in 1972, Iowa six-player girls’ basketball was, as Sports Illustrated gushed, "a utopia for girls’ athletics." He also demonstrates how, ironically enough, the fallout from Title IX in many ways led to six-girl basketball’s demise.

And that musical is a revelation as well. Here's what the playwright had to say about his motives:


I quickly discovered that writing the script and composing the music would be much easier tasks than convincing my theatre colleagues that a play about this unusual subject was not only necessary but warranted serious consideration for production.

At 8/26/2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Brickowski said...

This shit is pure genius. It takes a lot to coax me away from getting my ass kicked by law school, but this did the job.

One suggestion: Melo. I know that dude's like the diametrical opposite of Wally's, um, "muscular Christianity," but his game is so pure. Given that he's dominated the NCAA, NBA and World ranks, I'm going to assume he could hold his own against 19th century cagers.

At 8/27/2006 9:22 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

The term "muscular Christianity" is starting to become uncomfortable. I think we should keep it around as a regular meme until people start saying stuff like, "you think Bogut is all mC, but really he's just a rowdy Australian with a studious streak."

As for vintage hoops, Bogut seems to be on a path to surpass Brad Miller. But how about Shaq? Student of the game. Carefree enough to lose the dunks and play in a gentlemanly way. Passes better than most give credit for. And don't forget the super-skinny lane they used to have. Also, I like Melo, but the pic of Kobe makes me wonder if hepness has a place in the vintage game. It's a little meta-FD on the antique ball tip!

"All persons convicted of being jazzily intoxicated shall go before the Superior Court and be sent to an insane asylum." -House Bill 194, submitted to Washington State Legislature in 1933 by a Seattle congressman.

I was going to try a six-on-six team with today's players, but now I want to leave it alone. However, it occurs to me that Kyle Korver must have been immersed in this as a kid, the knowledge of which has some hard-to-articulate importance and will enrich my Sixers viewing pleasure as long as he and AI are on the floor together.

At 8/27/2006 5:39 PM, Blogger mutoni said...

i'm gonna have to second the 'melo nomination, and also add garnett to the mix.

At 8/27/2006 9:53 PM, Blogger there is no you or me without Suomi said...

Why not the Barry Triplets? Aint like I'm pushing for Scooter here- Drew got a teeny bit of a run in from '98-'00. Plus he was way more pass-friendly than Brent or Jon (Ga.Tech all-time assists leader, which I didn't know until 5 sec. ago)

I hear 'muscular christian' and all I can think of is a line in Chariots of Fire.

At 8/28/2006 8:29 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

"half-assed internet research"?!?!?!

At 8/28/2006 10:38 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i was more referring to myself. let the record show that the recluse's mastery of online information is without peer in this field.

At 8/28/2006 8:41 PM, Blogger T. said...

I actually think Kobe fits a lot better than y'all would think intially. Harken back to the hook shot he threw up in the 98 (?) All Star Game.

A lot of descriptions I've read about early basketball talk about a real tough, rough house game (surrounded by a cage, getting punched as one threw up set shots) - so I'm thinking Bruce Bowen. Not so much for the defense. But the cheap shots and stand still jumpers will fit in.


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