Basketball Linguistics: Taking Your Conversations from D-League to Pro
By: Melanie Watson
Nothing is more frustrating than pitching your basketball intellect only to foul out of the conversation.
As the playoffs inch closer, basketball dialogue is no longer just a game. It’s a known fact that watching sports is a social behavior. According to an ESPN Sports Poll in 2012, more than 75 percent of all sports intake occurs with others.
SLAM wants to ensure that its readers don't get crossed over and dunked on by the more seasoned basketball connoisseurs.
“Just because people sound like they know what they're talking about doesn't mean they do,” says veteran journalist Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders.
Greene instigates intelligent NBA conversation for a living through his weekly NBA chats and inside analysis.
“Maximize what you know,” he says. ”If you've only been watching basketball for two years then know everything about the last two years.”
However, don’t be so quick to get your voice out there that your talk becomes cheap. The goal is to persuade people to buy into your opinions without getting verbally persecuted.
“Don't give someone extra ammo to take you to the firing squad with,” says Greene. “You say Harold Miner is the best dunker in the history of the planet. They cut you off and say ‘Are you kidding me?!’ Back out of it.”
The best way to avoid dumb arguments altogether is to know your stuff and present your case. Tons of sites offer statistical information, but the foundation of it all is watching the game.
According to a study at the University of Chicago in 2008, the motor areas of the brain receive exercise when a person watches or plays sports. This results in a stronger understanding of both language and the sport.
“You're not going to learn it from just me talking to you,” says Greene. “You have to learn the ebb and flow of the game and see the trends by watching more basketball.”
YouTube, ESPN Classics, and NBA TV’s Hardwood Classics are just a few places you can turn to consume more of the sport.
With these tips in mind, the best assist you can give yourself is to develop your own voice.
“A lot of people try to emulate the hot analyst of the moment and that’s fine but don’t disservice yourself,” says Greene. “Your audience wants to know your original take. Don’t be desperate, just be natural.”