3. The 13 worst seconds of basketball ever
Even in brief, small in medias res snippets, great storytelling requires an ability to keep your audience on the brink of titillation at all times. The oft-cited storytelling rubric includes an opening scene, a repeating series of increasingly tense crises, interspersed with falling action to trick the reader into assuming a resolution is near, an ultimate climax, an ultimate fall, and a dénouement.
This isn’t the most YouTubable Nets moment of the season, but it may be the most complete basketball video ever captured on film. There may be no better example of storytelling than what you see above. If Ernest Hemingway penned basketball stories, this would be his magnum opus. This is hardly video; this is poetry of the highest order.
Beginning action, opening scene (0:00): Bismack Biyombo holds the ball innocently in the post, looking to drop a hook shot.
First crisis (0:01): Biyombo lets go of the ball. Immediately upon release, it’s clear that the basketball’s arc will take it nowhere near the basket.
Falling action (0:02): Corey Maggette grabs the basketball near the basket, and has a simple layup attempt.
Second crisis (0:03): Maggette tosses the basketball directly into the rim, causing complete chaos.
Falling action (0:04): Biyombo, climbing over Kris Humphries, appears to have an easy tip-in.
Third crisis (0:05-0:07): All hell breaks loose. Biyombo, within six inches of the basket, tips the ball towards the rim, but somehow misses directly off the backboard and wide left. D.J. White and Johan Petro attempt to corral the ball, which goes flying 18 feet into into the air. Petro eventually tips it out off Corey Maggette’s fingers, where it bounces innocently in between Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.
Falling action (0:07-0:08) Henderson assumes Walker has the ball in possession, and begins sliding down the wing for an open three.
Fourth crisis (0:09): DeShawn Stevenson rips the ball from Walker’s outstretched fingers, starting a fast break with MarShon Brooks running the wing with him.
Falling action (0:09-0:11): Stevenson pushes the 2-on-1 break with Brooks, defended only by the 3’7″ Walker. It looks like an easy two points for New Jersey.
Climax (0:11-0:12): Stevenson tosses an alley-oop to Brooks while both of them are still beyond the three-point line. Can Brooks get it!? Will this work!? Can the Nets score!? CAN BROOKS LEAP 20 FEET AND OUTSTRETCH HIS 7’1″ WINGSPAN THAT FAR!? IS ANYTHING POSSIBLE??
Falling action (0:12-0:13): Brooks jumps helplessly as the ball sails above him. The ball, Brooks, the hopes of scoring two points, and the story all crash to the hardwood.
Dénouement (0:13-0:19): Stevenson expresses dismay and accepts blame for his mistake as Walker grabs the ball, ready to begin the game again as the announcer reminds us of the video’s ultimate lesson: “you can’t take things for granted.” Indeed.
You couldn’t have written it better.