Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Ode to the Keep Away Dribble

Copyright © by Lee Harkness. All rights
reserved. Used under creative commons.
Not long ago I did an entry paying ode to the weave, so I thought for today's post I would pay tribute to another routine the Washington Generals and Globetrotters do together, the dribble keep away.

Originally started by Trotter Marques Haynes; this routine is usually done once per game. It consist of the Globetrotters dribbling the ball up the court, and as the Washington Generals try to catch it the Trotters weave and slide all across the floor, avoiding the ball being caught as the Generals chase after them. It will lead to several funny moments born from the Trotters seemingly effortless ability to make the Generals look silly in their attempts to steal the ball.

Arguably, the Globetrotters do have the harder part of this trick. Dribbling the ball may be second nature to professional basketball players. But it takes time and practice to continuously dribble it as you run and slide in every direction, often inches from the hardwood. However, the reason the trick is such a hit is because of the comedy gold of the Generals trying to catch the ball.

I have often said that at their best moments the Washington Generals and Globetrotters are like a finely tuned dance team. I think that is on full display here, as the Washington Generals have to appear to be trying to take the ball, without actually taking it. It is the goofy shenanigans that come from the Trotters keeping the ball away from the Generals that makes the trick so successful.

I can only imagine how long both teams must have to practice to pull this trick off so easily. Admittedly, some Generals do a better job than others of making this look believable. Many do simply look like they are hovering around near them, but some of the better Generals are truly amazing at selling their "fumbling" attempts to catch the ball.

This season a new twist was put on this classic.

Near the end of the first half the Globetrotters will inevitably pull a stunt that will lead to three of their players being put in the penalty box. This leaves the Washington Generals playing with a 5 on 2 advantage. Usually, the Washington Generals will have the ball at this point and take their shot. Which they usually make given that it's pretty hard for two players to cover five.

But once the Globetrotters get the ball back the magic starts as the two Trotters will begin the dribbling trick, made all the more impressive and comical given that at this point the two Globetrotters will dribble and pass the ball back and forth as the Generals shift back and forth between them, practically tripping over each other as they try, and fail, to steal the ball. As the period comes to a close the fans will count down and the Globetrotters will take the ball to the 4-point circle and take a 4-point shot to close the second quarter.

Obviously the trick is more impressive when the Globetrotters make their final 4-point shot.  As even with the Generals making no real effort to stop it the Globetrotters do still occasionally miss the last shot. No one can score a basket 100% of the time, I don't care how good they are.

But even when they do miss, the trick is still entertaining and an amazing show of athleticism and comedy.

Below is a video featuring the trick being performed at a the Generals game in Manchester last April. It featured the previously mentioned 2 on 5 trick. I will admit a part of me likes it because it begins with the Wasington Generals making a 4-point shot and ends with the Globetrotters missing their basket. But it really is the best video I have seen of the current version of their keep away dribble, missed shot or not.

The truth is that the beauty of the bit is in the dribbling and not in whether or not the final shot is successful.

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