Daily shipment of highlight reels, filled with extraordinary individual plays and thrilling displays of teamwork, is the factor that has always driven the popularity of the NBA across the globe. There is, however, the other side to that coin.
With almost a 1,000 hours of televised action per season, we are bound to witness a solid number of head-scratching, hilarious, or straight up bizarre events that take place both on the court and on its sidelines. This season was no exception.
The Phoenix Syncs
The Suns peaked early as a team this season. It was their opening quarter of the season when Eric Bledsoe intercepted a pass by Pat Connaughton. His smart defensive play then triggered a remarkable, almost flawless hivemind reaction from all five Suns’ starters. It was such a promising start for a young Suns core.
A start that immediately got cast to oblivion by the Blazers team, who subsequently went on a 122-67 run, inflicting the largest defeat in franchise history on the Suns despite their telephatic connection.
Kosta the Contemplator
When players get substituted, they usually discuss the positives and the negatives of their time on the court with the coaching staff. Kosta Koufos took that to another level.
According to Jerry Reynolds, Koufos just had a good game, but the intense exchange with an imaginary consultant on the bench could easily suggest otherwise. Judging by his final gesture, it seems that they at least managed to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Rick Carlisle, the suspected lost brother of Jim Carrey, is well known for his escapades along the sidelines.
This time, he decided to utilize some voodoo magic to prevent the refs from giving LeBron James and the Cavs benefit of the doubt each time down the floor.
The unconventional method didn’t yield the expected results, as the Mavs lost their seventh in eight games, but, in the grand scheme of things, Carlisle’s wizardry helped the Mavs on their way to a 40% chance of getting the top 3 pick.
Marc Gasol vs. A sole
In a display of great care for the safety of other players on the court, Marc Gasol promptly reacted to Clint Capela losing his shoe at the top of the key by forcefully kicking it out of bounds.
The tech Gasol received for his considerate move was strange, but the unusual decision is almost as ridiculous as the play itself, and makes you wonder why there isn’t a rule in place for those not-so-rare moments when a player loses a piece of equipment on the floor.
Some may recall this arguably worse incident involving a shoe from the 2014-15 season, when Tyson Chandler blocked Marreese Speights’ shoe into the first row.
A rookie introduction
Transitioning from college basketball to the NBA can be overwhelming in certain segments, and usually requires a certain period of adaptation. One of those aspects is the sheer number of cameras that are filming you at any given time.
Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum got acquainted with that early in the season, giving us a glimpse into how rookies handle their photoshooting obligations. It’s pretty odd that the production crew decided to roll with this, but you can’t blame them; Tatum’s reaction was priceless.
The Gatorade hater
When the clip of Klay Thompson’s hate for a Gatorade bottle surfaced, it was not clear whether it’s just another rendition of Klay’s random shenanigans, or whether there is something more at play.
Out of context, Klay Thompson attacking that bottle of Gatorade with determination seemed so hilariously out of place. Thompson’s motives were, however, much more subtle.
He is the acting ambassador of the Body Armor energy drink, and, of course, a chocolate milk company. This “issue” could have easily been resolved in a more pacifistic manner, but Thompson’s power move was infinitely more fun.
The Manu assist
Manu Ginobili has always been that player who can get hot in a hurry and make the basket seem at least two times wider.
Sometimes, he goes into “can’t miss” mode even when he doesn’t want to, as we witnessed last season in a matchup against the Blazers when he really needed to miss.
This season, Ginobili wasn’t looking to intentionally miss his shot, but rather to make a nifty assist to LaMarcus Aldridge who was in a mismatch situation in the paint. A solid idea yielded an exponentially better result, as the intended assist unexpectedly turned into a three-point basket.
The sheer improbability of such an outcome stunned both the Knicks and the refs, who went along as if nothing actually happened, at least until Ginobili heatedly hinted at them to expect the unexpected.
Ejection after ejection
Fans invading players’ personal space with their mobile phones is becoming a rising problem in the NBA. The most recent incident involved Russell Westbrook, who angrily snapped at an annoying Utah Jazz fan following their playoff elimination game.
The pioneer of the movement of players taking action to protect their safe space was Rodney Hood, who decided to reciprocate his ejection by ejecting a fan’s mobile phone right out of his hands.
While his reaction was somewhat unwarranted, since the fan didn’t exactly get into his face, the robotic automaticity with which Hood sent the mobile phone flying was pretty amusing at the time.
Mirin’ Sweet Lou
While being a prolific scorer on the court, Lou Williams is also known for scoring off the court; the man himself stated that he successfully handles two girlfriends at the same time. Judging by this explicit reaction from two women enamored by Lou’s sweet behind, it seems that female pairs just might be his thing.
When two young and inexperienced teams match up, there’s a higher probability of some head-scratching plays arising over the course of the game. These are, however, usually equally distributed over the 48 minutes, and don’t repeat in quick succession.
In this game, the Nets and the Bulls started piling up beginner’s mistakes right from the tip-off, resulting in a downright atrocious sequence of basketball.
The incompetent exchange of possessions made the start of the game resemble those half-time shows in which a bunch of children make their parents proud, not an actual game involving ten real NBA players.
The tip-off push up
We frequently see players trying to have a bit of fun right after the tip-off. It’s always amusing to see what the team’s starting lineup comes up with after getting the opening possession, and players have admittedly been pretty creative in that regard.
The pinnacle of this season’s tip-off rituals featured Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, who didn’t only provide some solid theatrics, but also worked on their body strength in the process.
The Lovable backstroke
Not all NBA players take up basketball early in their childhood. An excellent example of that is Tim Duncan, who practiced swimming up until the ninth grade when hurricane Hugo destroyed the only swimming pool on his home island.
After he airballed a corner three smothered by John Henson, Kevin Love obviously attempted to channel his inner swimmer. If you keep your eyes on the top right corner, you’ll see Love trying to make his way out of an embarrassing situation by backstroking along the sideline.
The post-miss reaction was so hilariously out of place, even Love admitted he’s not sure what he was thinking at the time.
Big animals with limited range of movement often use immovable objects to get rid of a nagging scratch on an unreachable part of the body. While Steven Adams is certainly not an animal, he must have felt that using his hands to scratch his forehead will consume too much energy.
Therefore, he conveniently used Al Horford’s elbow to quickly resolve the issue. What makes the whole sequence even more awkward and hilarious is Horford’s immediate side-glance and “did dis dude just do dis” reaction.
Shaking the referee’s hand before and after the game has always been a sign of good sportsmanship.
Doc Rivers successfully instilled that mannerism into his son, who tried to show his politeness in the dying moments of a Clippers’ win over the Bucks. His good intentions were, however, met by a wall of rejection.
The referee straight up refused to honor Rivers’ noble gesture, evading him and then walking away in this painful-to-watch turn of events.
Don’t slap that butt
A slap on the butt is how athletes usually show their affection for other players in a manly way. However, the butt slap is reserved mostly for teammates, occasionally for opponents, and definitely never for the officials.
Marcus Morris decided to cross that boundary by spanking the referee on his way out after getting ejected, which caught him completely off guard. The referee was so flabbergasted he had to do a double take, while probably trying to figure out whether he can call a harder punishment on Morris after ejecting him.
The untimely cut
Given the amount of work and material they have to handle, a few lapses by the production crews every now and then are to be expected. Not when one of the important games of the season is on the line, though. While it may seem like some kind of a montage due to the perfect timing of Scottie Pippen’s face taking over the screen, this is actually what really happened in the final moments of regulation in an ESPN broadcast.
Credit for the majority of the clips goes to fine folk at /r/nba, who meticulously create and collect footage of all the good, the bad and the ugly of the NBA.