Muse and Mechanics
Skeets and myself are both very busy men with a constant need to consume virgin blood and walk on ice. But when we aren't so busy, or need to take time out from said business to determine the future of basketball, the topic often turns to the alley-oop. It's often decried as the ultimate in showy, bombastic play—and not surprisingly, has been a hallmark of all the most FD teams ever. However, it's also money when executed by a pinpoint guard and masterful leaper. In fact, it can be so hard to stop, such an easy way to get points, that it sometimes feels like the new low post. That's one of those moments where I really understand why Hubie Brown constantly observes that the game is now above the rim, has an added dimension, and all that. Certainly, the likes of Paul and Chandler view it as a set play. And I can get bored by players who can only get points off of alley-oops, which certainly strengthens their case as something worthwhile.
If you accept the alley-oop as more like the pick-and-roll than the windmill, all sorts of perceptual doors begin to loosen. Remember McGrady's off-the-backboard self-oop? Why not use the backboard as a second floor, thus adding another (fourth?) dimension to the game. It sounds fancy and frivolous, but again, we're talking set plays, or at least shit that's been worked on in practice. Take a look at this Hedo/Howard connect, about 1:48 in.
Now, this might have been a botched shot. But the timing is so perfect, and the point of impact so high, it's hard to not see a glint of intentionality in there. And it was out of a timeout. If you buy that, then follow, and tell me it's not every bit as smart as a bounce pass into the lane. Plus, this is Hedo Freakin' Turkgolu, a player known to style a little, but hardly a hot dogger. Despite the sheer kookiness of the play, on the whole it feels a lot less trangressive than pretty much every possession of the 2006-07 Warriors.
What's the next step? Maybe this clip—granted, from high school, but introducing a totally volleyball element to the mix that echoes Wilt's never-ending devotion to that second sport.
When floating bodies become a passing surface, then all of a sudden I get dizzy and you're in the realm of basketball gadget plays. Exceptions, not a considerable planar extension of time and space. Still, this could work, people, and the more the NBA begins to see the 'oop as foundational, the more possible this kind of thing becomes. In effect, it becomes the new alley-oops.
Maybe we're putting the heads ahead of the other heads. But remember, the dunk itself was once thought of as useless tomfoolery. Now, most people would agree that relatively sane dunking is the easiest way to ensure the ball goes through the hoop. The paradox of progress is that imagination is always linked to style, and yet it also provides the seed for innovation that changes the face of function. Think about the way the Suns or Warriors use to alter the dimensions of the court (scrapped book idea: using advanced physics to prove this), all through a mode of play dripping with style. Is a team like the Magic or Hornets this close to another great, sustained breakthrough?
(Further, unrelated reading: Shoals Unlimited on losers and All-Star selection. Also, note all the questions posed herein. In one of the older chats I looked at to craft this post, Skeets and I decide that asking questions is the key to audience participation. What do you think?)