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Love for the game: Shooting a basketball


If you think about shooting a basketball, the way a maths student thinks things through, every time a player launches a shot, he is basically:

-throwing a ball (9 inches in diameter)

-towards a ring (perched 10ft high, 18 inches in diameter)

-from a significant distance (3 pointers are from 19”9 ft away)

At this point logic kicks in and shows that the odds of the ball going in are pretty low. Now add the factor of pressure filled game situations. Off balance shots. Defenders doing their best to distract the shooter by waving their arms in his face, trying to get a piece of the ball. The odds just dropped lower. There is a poetry to launching a high arcing shot, the kind that looks like it has no hope of going in, and then watching it drop softly, swishing the net on its way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGV0h-fE66w

We are used to watching planes fly. To us, they represent a means of transportation. To those who study the mechanics of flight, build the aircraft, train to fly and pilot the plane; they are the only ones who can appreciate the beauty of a 400000 kg cone hurtling through the air wherever they direct it to.

There is a story set a couple of centuries ago, where a man walked into a crowded bar, climbed a table, hollered for attention and proclaimed “I am going to build a huge house. It will seat hundreds, and fly them to far away places in minutes.” The crowd stared at him for a moment, and laughed him out of the bar.

Okay, I made that story up. The parallel here is of a 12 year old kid throwing up shots at the rim, praying, willing, and beseeching the ball to at least touch the rim. It seems as impossible as the man’s claim to build a flying house. A decade later, the kid now grown up, effortlessly launches shots up from 20 feet. Shots that sail through the air in a rainbow arc and tear through the net. It is a commonplace occurrence, for everyone except the kid, who remembers how impossible it all seemed earlier. Don’t take the simple act of shooting for granted. Think about the work put into it.

Shooting a Basketball
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