USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘basketball’
Digital

Linsanity

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any legendary stories in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a certain player’s meteoric rise in the NBA, an era called Linsanity, named for Jeremy Lin

 

“Linsanity started off as a pretty mundane thing in the NBA. One of the more athletic players, Jeremy Lin was rising through the ranks in early 2012 when players like Kobe Bryant were in their prime and no one had heard of Jeremy Lin before this. Players in the NBA do get better, but no one ever did it as fast as Lin did, until his performance against the Lakers with Kobe at his prime. Just a year before this he was considered a poor player, and even a month before he was seen as a bench player, at best. The day of the Lakers game, it was fair to say that no one expected him to put up even 20 points, let alone 38 points. He even forced Kobe to play for longer than he intended to and still outscored him. This was the pinnacle of Linsanity”


The interviewer thought this story was interesting, but he heard a different spin on the Linsanity era. As far as he had known, the reason for the large amounts of attention Lin was getting was due to a minority’s increased prevalence in the league. He can definitely appreciate just how the era of Linsanity must have felt to his fans and NBA viewers. Lin was in the league knocking on the doors of the greats, having been dismissed completely just so quickly beforehand.

Digital

Fizdale is a Legend

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any legendary stories in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a certain coach’s recent interview after a blowout.

 

“So this happened after a pretty bad loss to the Spurs in the playoffs. Coach Fizdale, the Grizzlies’ coach, was asked for a statement after the game and it wasn’t hard to tell that he was pretty pissed off about how the game went because of foul calls that went mostly to the Spurs. In fact at the end of the game, just one player on the Spurs had more calls than the entirety of Fizdale’s team. He got really angry during the interview and made statements like “They ain’t gon rook us” and “Take that for data” that quickly became viral. It turned into meme status overnight. Text-based comment boards for the NBA all over the internet started to apply his statements to every little aspect of unfairness seen in the NBA and it was pretty funny. Still, overall, pretty legendary of Fizdale to go out and say that.”


The interviewer remembered seeing the interview posted online but didn’t know that it had escalated to “meme status” in NBA communities. Taken out of context, I suppose that the statements “they ain’t gon rook us” and “take that for data” would become funny if used for every single circumstance.

Digital
Humor

The Toaster Era

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any superstitions in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a comment about the “winningness” of the Golden State Warriors.

 

 

“I can’t think of any pregame superstitions or anything like that, but there is this thing that recently came up about a toaster that Klay [Thompson] signed. Some guy on Reddit went to a Klay autograph signing but instead of a shirt or a basketball, he had Klay sign his official Warriors-branded toaster. This kinda became a meme in itself because Klay was just so dumbfounded about signing the toaster that there are pictures of the awkward pause right before he signed it. But, since then, the Warriors are undefeated. This is now known as the Toaster Era and the Warriors are 20-0 in the Toaster Era.”

 

The interviewer had heard about the “Toaster Era” but didn’t know what it was attributed to in the first place. More than anything, this whole thing seems like a passing meme about the Warriors’ insane ability to win against any team in the NBA. I really doubt that the Warriors are undefeated solely due to the toaster, but it is nevertheless entertaining to think of this superstition as a reason for their repeated victories.

 

Customs
general

Lil B NBA Curse

The informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He has recently become a huge fan of the NBA and he describes something that the casual NBA fan would not know much about. In this piece, he talks about the “The BasedGod’s” curse to me (AK) which was popularized over five years ago by a rapper by the name of Lil B.

For some context, Lil B became a viral sensation with many provocative rap videos and tweets. He refers to himself as the “Based God” and he has drawn a very loyal fan following due to the hilarity of his tweets and rap videos. He is also known for the “Based God” curse which he has given to star athletes who have disrespected his rapping ability.

DP: So I don’t know the entire story, but I do know that Lil B and Kevin Durant (famous basketball player) had beef a few years ago.

AK: What exactly caused the beef?

DP: Well … KD basically said that Lil B is a wack rapper and that his music sucks. Lil B responded to this by dropping a video titled F*** KD and giving him the “Based God” curse.

AK: What does this curse entail? Is there any way to become uncursed?

DP: In this context, he meant that KD would never win a championship. Also, KD was recently lifted of the curse because he decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors and Lil B is a huge Warriors fan.

I found this entire piece to be hilarious. After some further research, I found Lil B to be very outspoken on twitter and most of his fans simply quote him out of the absurdity and comedy of some of his proclamations. Most of his songs have a comedic element to them and in his F*** KD song he states that he could beat Kevin Durant in a one on one game of basketball. For some NBA fans, however, the curse does hold some merit as Kevin Durant is perennially one of the best players in the league, yet he has never won a championship. While most rational fans scoff at the claim that the curse is the reason why, a small but significant subset of fans contend that the curse is the sole reason why. I’m not sure which side of the argument I’m on, but I do find humor in the fact that Lil B has gained so much fame over a simple tweet and video.

Protection

Superstitions Amongst College and Professional Athletes in the Locker Room

Nationality: American

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): None

Age: 80

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 9, 2017 (via Skype)

 

 

Robert is a 80 year old man, born and raised in New Jersey who is a retired business executive.  He played varsity level college basketball at the University of Florida and in the National Basketball Association with the New York Knicks.

 

Interviewer: Good Morning. Do professional athletes have superstations when they are active players?

 

Informant: “Well basically if you had a good game you never change your socks for the next game, you wear the same jock.  if you had a particular outfit that you wore to the game and it was a bad game then you would change the outfit and if it was a good game maybe you would wear it again the second day.  And those are some of the superstitions. If you were parked in a specific spot and you did have a good night then you would want that same spot. Then you would arrange everything you could to make sure you got the same spot all over again.

 

Interviewer:  So this is your recollection when you played ball in College as well as professionally for the New York Knicks.

 

Informent: Correct

 

Interviewer:  Was this about all players?

 

Informant: Most players all have superstitions. Some of the guys would before the game have warm ups. They would want to be the last one to shot the ball in the hoop before the game started. So they kind of hang out when everyone is getting ready to go to the bench before the game started and then they would take the ball and shoot the little jump shot just cause that was a superstition and they wanted to have the last shot.

 

Interviewer:  When did you first start observing these superstitions?

 

Informant: When I was in college at the University of Florida. Most ball players have a superstition. I mean it goes into how you put your uniform on, the same way. If you had a good game you always wondered what made you have a good game.

 

Interviewer: And ah did it ever play out to the point that where your superstition reinforced your belief?

 

Informant: Yes. You would have the superstition and if you hit three or four in a row you would say that’s it, that’s it, and then you would keep doing it until it changed. When it changed you would look for another superstition.

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Anyone who has played or even been a spectator of sports observes silly rituals that are important to fans and players. This professional basketball player took the rules of luck seriously. For other sports superstitions that famous athletes believe see: http://www.mensfitness.com/life/sports/10-most-superstitious-athletes

 

Gestures
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Good Luck Free Throw

Everyone who plays basketball has some sort of free-throw routine. This is my brother’s:

Skye: When I get fouled, I go to the free throw line. The referee hands me the ball.I spin it, let it hit the ground, it comes back to me. I dribble twice. Look at the basket, take a deep breath. Spin it again. Shoot. Make it. And then do it again for the second free throw but I don’t get second free throws.

Me: Does everybody have a free-throw routine?

Skye: Yeah, but everybody’s is different.

Me: When did you discover your free-throw routine?

Skye: Middle school. I’ve changed it up a couple times. It used to be three dribbles instead of two. Ball is life. Ball is wife.

Analysis: Basketball is not a game of luck. However, having  a free throw routine can help to center a lot of players when they’re being yelled at from the opposing team’s crowd. Like in other sports, there are moments where a single athlete’s performance can matter more than the entire team’s. A free throw, when all of the team is watching, is a moment of extreme pressure for the individual. If the player has a routine, he feels centered and ready to score.

general
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Handshakes Before the Game

Information on the Informant: The informant for this particular piece of folklore is a 20 year old friend of mine who attends usc names Brian Finley. Brian is from San Diego, California and has played basketball his whole life. He recently transferred to USC this past year (2015) after spending his first year of college at Chapman University playing basketball. He is a tall and very skilled player who has traveled all around the country throughout his life playing in various tournaments. He has seen teams from many different geographical areas and how their traditions vary based on team.

From the informant:

“So essentially what happens prior to the game starting is that each team does its’ warm ups for a while and then we all sit on the bench and wait for the starting 5 players from each team to be introduced. The announcer typically says the player’s name, his position, and how tall he is. Traditionally, the starting five are sitting on the bench before they are called and the rest of the team is standing up kind of making a little pathway for the player to go through when he is announced. The player gets announced and then has to go shake hands with the opposing coach and referees. However, sometimes there is a player who stands at the end of the pathway and does a custom handshake with each starter of the team. If the players really care about the hand shake, they will practice before and each starter will have his own custom handshake that the non-starter does with him. Lots of high school, college, and professional players do it. Recently it’s become a lot more popular because a lot of pro players are making really weird handshakes that get filmed and then go viral on youtube or something.”

Analysis: Attached below I put a link of a player in the NBA, Cameron Payne, who has become popular this year because of his unorthodox handshakes before the game. Payne is a great example of a guy who has popularized this pre-game ritual and made it a more universal basketball tradition.

general

The Cutting of the Net

Information on the Informant: The informant for this particular piece of folklore is a 20 year old friend of mine who attends usc names Brian Finley. Brian is from San Diego, California and has played basketball his whole life. He recently transferred to USC this past year (2015) after spending his first year of college at Chapman University playing basketball. He is a tall and very skilled player who has traveled all around the country throughout his life playing in various tournaments. He has seen teams from many different geographical areas and how their traditions vary based on team.

Informant: ” It’s a long standing tradition in the NCAA basketball tournament that after a team wins the whole national championship, each payer and coach on the team stand on a latter and cut off a part of the net that was used in the game. The reason why the teams do this is pretty basic–it’s first off, a sign of victory but also it allows the members of the team to have a piece of the history that they created by winning the national championship.’

Me: “Do you know where the tradition started?”

Informant:” Yeah actually I do. It started in the early 1900’s at an Indiana high school which I don’t know the name of. All I know is that after one of the high schools won the state championship, their coach told them to take a piece of memorabilia into order to cherish the victory for a long time. After many years this coach became a college coach and his team won the national championship for the NCAA. After his team won, the whole team took a piece of the net and ever since then it had been a tradition to do so.”

Analysis: I have attached a video of the most recent team to win the national championship, the Villanova Wildcats, cutting down the net after winning. It is clear throughout the video that this tradition is extremely prideful and is a culmination of a very successful basketball season.

Customs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Marching Band Basketball Initiation

One USC marching band tradition that occurs basketball games is that the band will start to scream 57 when the score reaches that number.  Additionally they will taunt any player on the opposing team who has a 22 as the number on their jersey jeering “tweeeenneey twoooo, tweeennneey twoooo”

The informant explained to me that this is a tradition that plays a role in inducting new members into the band.  New members learn this tradition at the first basketball game of the season when the rest of the band starts jeering and screaming they join in.

This is a good example of a tradition based around the liminal period.  The new members are in a place where they are physically in the band, in that they are preforming with them, but they don’t yet know the traditions, so they are not yet psychologically a member of the band.  After the first game however they learn the unofficial rules of being in band and leave the game feeling more a part of the band community.

Folk Beliefs
general
Homeopathic
Magic

“Baller Rituals”

I’m not very original or exciting, so at least for this year, it was always taking a nap before games and practices. But to list some other ones…

Before games, always show up exactly an hour and half early to get warmed up, stretched, relaxed before the game… listen to some really pump-up music, and… before the game starts, always make two layups and a free throw. I always wore the same spandies and bra, and one teammate always took a shower before a game. I knew one girl who just had to shave her legs before each game. Even if there were multiple games in a day, she’d shave before each and every of them. One teammate always drank only red Powerade during games, and had to have an apple during the game. Most of my teammates, their superstitious things that they do are just coming in and shooting around before each game.

Most of the time it’s just because it something you know that worked in the time before another game, and then you grow into it like a habit. Like in high school I never had any of these. You take these more seriously the more serious your sport becomes. Like compare a middle school/intermediate game with NCAA sports or… the Olympics… then there’s this crazy, elaborate list of rituals, things you just do out of habit/routine.

I had a coach that used to eat a quarter pounder with cheese before the game, just to show how ridiculous these things get… I feel like in all my experience most people fall into the category of eating something or wearing something that “worked” before in the hopes that it will again.

 

How did you come across this folklore: “This is kind of a culmination of “rituals” that I’ve come across/picked up in my personal experience, over 15+ years of playing basketball at clinic, intermediate, high school varsity, and college varsity levels.”

This collection of rituals can be interpreted as protection, and both contagious and homeopathic magic. With these techniques, athletes and coaches aspire to protect themselves and their teams from loss/injury, inherit the winning properties of something that was done before and for whatever reason was attributed to victory, and induce a like outcome with a like setup.

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