Monday night, basketball fans were treated to two spectacular posterizations: Kevin Durant on Marcin Gortat, and Taj Gibson on Anthony Tolliver. Both dunks came in winning efforts—the Thunder went on to beat the Suns, and the Bulls embarrassed the Hawks.
Bulls’ broadcaster Stacey King got a little carried away with Gibson’s dunk:
Does anybody know how to post videos to Facebook?! Oh my goodness… Taj Gibson just friend-requested him! Double-u Double-u Double-u Dot My Face Dot-com; Woo!
There are a couple directions we can go with this. We can take this as a concession of digital media surpassing print media, even in our metaphors. We can talk about how those two moments are representative of the directions the four teams involved are going. We can ignore the spectacular fashion of those dunks, and simply place them as two drops in the bucket of efficient shots.
Of course, the point of listing all of those directions is to go in neither of them. Instead, let’s dip our toes in the decision psychology of the at-risk. Let’s, for a moment, attempt to enter the psyche of Martin Gortat. You’ve just seen your enigmatic teammate Michael Beasley play incredibly lackluster defense on his BFF Durant and get shaken on a hesitation move. A huge lane has just opened. You have two main options: A) Contest the shot, and B) Do not contest the shot. Possible consequences of each option are listed below:
Option A) Contest the shot
Result A1) Get posterized and commit a foul, giving the dunker an and-1
Result A2) Get posterized, a.k.a. Facebook friend-requested
Result A3) Commit foul and offensive player misses dunk
Result A4) Offensive player makes dunk, but called for offensive foul
Result A5) Offensive player misses dunk
Result A6) Offensive player misses dunk, and called for offensive foul
Result A7) Block shot, but get called for foul
Result A8) Block shot
Option B) Do not contest the shot
Result B1) Offensive player makes dunk
Result B2) Offensive player misses dunk
Depending on the mental fiber of you and your teammates, as well your team culture (i.e., what’s valued and emphasized), your decision and the consequent result can lead to one or more of the following outcomes:
Demoralization (Likely antecedents include: A1, A2, A4, B1, B2)
Demoralization has multiple levels, from momentary dismay that goes away after the next time-out, to Kendrick-Perkins-deleting-his-Twitter-account levels.
B1 and B2 – “We’re so bad there’s no point in even trying to stop them!” and/or “We’re so bad our players aren’t even trying to defend!”
Resolution (Possible antecedents include: All of the above)
“I just got embarrassed. I must not let this continue.” “I just got embarrassed. I must do something to overshadow that.“ This can turn out nicely, and inspire extra, angry effort, OR players can end up pressing too hard, and exacerbate the situation.
Estimation (Possible antecedents include: All of the above)
A1 to A8 – “Much respect for contesting the shot!” This is not what Andrew Bynum said to Pau Gasol after Blake Griffin happened.
B1 to B2 – “Much respect for knowing when to just bail.” Persistent Widow or Spurned Suitor at the Bar Who Needs to Stop?
Objurgation (Possible antecedents include: A1, A2, A3, A7, B1, B2)
“You know our team doesn’t respond well to posterizations!”
“Why didn’t you contest the shot?”
Nirvana (Possible antecedents include: All of the above)
Not to be confused with the Tracy McGrady/James Harden sleepy-eye. If you’ve already achieved nirvana, you are unmoved, and remain in nirvana. Shane Battier has probably attained this.
Dismemberment (Possible antecedents include: A1, A2, B1, B2)
“What can we do? Um, I don’t know. I am going to be silly right now, but maybe break his arm, break his leg? You can’t do anything. You can double and triple him, he is still going to score. He is just amazing.” – Marcin Gortat
Free Krispy Kremes (Possible antecedents include: A1, A2)
“Well first of all, I was looking for my car keys under the basket. I was trying to find my car keys because I lost them over there, so I was just looking for it. And Michael Beasley is going to get Krispy Kremes for the rest of the season for sure for me.” – Marcin Gortat
From a young age, most players are coached to play hard on defense and contest shots, especially those who aren’t gifted with freakish natural talent and athleticism. Popular western stories tend to shy away from tragic figures, unless they are martyrs whose failures/deaths ultimately bring about the desired outcome (e.g., Gladiator). Chinese stories, on the other hand, often center on the losers (e.g., The Romance of the Three Kingdoms), and very often feature tragic figures, whose deaths/failures don’t result in ultimate victory. The narrative draw, however, is in the process. We prize determination, the never-say-die attitude in sports, but forsake that value when the Mozgov-event, or the Perkins-event, or the Ewing-event, or the Lister-event happens. Since this blog seeks to embody a preferential option for the marginalized, here’s to you, Marcin Gortat. Just next time, get your damn hands ups.