When a basketball player opens his mouth, one of two things can happen:
Some trite and entirely meaningless statement comes out. “We need to work hard on defense, and execute on offense,” or maybe, “We need to shoot a high percentage, and rebound the basketball.” Basically, they’re blandly describing how to play their sport, which would be great if I was a visitor from the planet Xanax, or maybe if I was taking an Ebonics course. Otherwise, I just got dumberer from listening to them.
Something delightfully hilarious erupts from their lips, something beautiful and profound, like a stripper asking you back to the Champaign room. It could be Magic Johnson complimenting a team’s “Harmonism,” or Kevin Garnett telling you he’s “flabbergabanasted.” It could even be Patrick Ewing and his “We make a lot of money, but we also spend a lot of money” or Latrell Sprewell’s “I’ve got kids to feed.” Whatever it is, your life is immediately better than it was before they said it.
Here’s a list of some of my personal favorites. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list. Feel free to add your own:
"Left hand, right hand, it doesn't matter. I'm amphibious."-Charles Shackleford of the NCSU basketball team
"Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points, they almost always win." -Doug Collins
"I've won at every level, except college and pro." -Shaquille O'Neal, on his lack of championships.
"We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."-Jason Kidd
"[My] career was sputtering until [I] did a 360 and got headed in the right direction." - NBA star Tracy McGrady, after signing with the Orlando Magic on Thursday.
"Are you any relation to your brother Marv?"-Basketball player Leon Wood to announcer Steve Albert
"It's almost like we have ESPN."-Magic Johnson, on how well he and James Worthy work together
"I can't really remember the names of the clubs that we went to."-Shaquille O'Neal on whether he had visited the Parthenon during his visit to Greece
"My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."-Chuck Nevitt , North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to Coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice, 1982
"Tom."-Tom Nissalke, New coach of the NBA's Houston Rockets, when asked how he pronounced his name, 1966
"I'll always be Number 1 to myself." -Moses Malone
"I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes."-Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh
"I don't want to shoot my mouth in my foot, but those are games we can win." -Sherman Douglas
"Anything that doesn't progress gets stuck or left behind. Our new sponsor is a company with a great future." -Club president Fernando Ruiz of the Spanish basketball club Gijon Baloncesto, which has accepted sponsorship from a pornographic website. The website owners say they are considering supplying their girls to act as cheerleaders at Gijon's home games.
"Play some Picasso." -Former New Jersey Net Chris Morris, to a piano player at a hotel bar while trying to impress a date.
"Unstoppable, baby!" -Warrior rookie Marc Jackson to the Mavericks' bench, after hitting a lay-up during a 29-point loss.
"I've been dunked on by (Vitaly) Potapenko and now (Zan) Tabak. The good part is that they don't make posters of those guys." - Houston Rockets forward Walt Williams
"No comment." -Michael Jordan, after being asked for his response to making the All-Interview Team.
"I will shoot all you Asian (bleeps) ... Do you remember the Vietnam War? I'll kill y'all just like that." -Point guard Jason Williams to a fan of Asian descent sitting behind the Kings bench during a game at Golden State. Williams was fined $15,000 by the NBA.