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How to Fake a Knowledge of Basketball

So you’ve been invited to watch the big game with a bunch of hardcore fans, but basketball’s not really your bag? Not a problem—just take a moment to check out this handy hoops cheat sheet.


  • Step 1: Do some research Start by gathering some basic info about the game – what teams are playing? Which one are you supposed to be rooting for? Who’s the coach? Who’s the mascot? What are the team colors?
  • TIP: Buy a program Overdressing in team paraphernalia is a great way to make others think you know more than they do.
  • Step 2: Check injury reports While you’re at it, check out the injury reports for both teams. Write down the name and ailment of one injured player for each side, and practice making mention of them during the game. Use phrases like, 'Lambert would’ve had that rebound!' Or 'Good thing they don’t have Boyd in the line-up!'
  • Step 3: Follow the crowd’s lead Follow the crowd’s lead. Stand when they stand, cheer when they cheer, boo when they boo.
  • Step 4: Know the basic lingo Bone up on basic basketball lingo. They’re not bouncing the ball, they’re 'dribbling' it; when a player gets 'fouled,' the shots he takes from the 'foul line' are called 'foul shots' or 'free throws.'
  • TIP: Pepper your personal banter with basketball terms, too. For example, when you get up to use the restroom, say you’ll be back after you make a few 'offensive adjustments.'
  • Step 5: Have a go-to phrase Pick out a go-to phrase, like 'Three in the key!,' which is good to yell whenever an offensive player, which is a player for the team with the ball, is lingering for more than 3 seconds in the 'key,' which is the key-shaped box that…
    Oh never mind, just shout it whenever a lot of people are crowded around the basket.
  • TIP: If you feel compelled to yell 'Slamma-jamma!' after a big dunk or block, stop yourself. Relying on tired phrases from old video games is just lame.
  • Step 6: Use nostalgia If anybody calls your bluff, immediately grow nostalgic. Mention how much 'purer' the game was before the 24-second clock, the 3-point shot, or the A.B.A. merger came along.
  • Step 7: Have a joke ready End with a basketball-related joke, especially if your team loses. On the way out, turn to your companions and say, 'Hey, we’ll win next time – we’re playing the Washington Generals!' That’s a really bad team.
  • FACT: The NBA introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954, eight years after the league was founded.

You Will Need

  • Time to do research
  • Injury reports for both teams
  • A few phrases of basketball lingo
  • One go-to phrase
  • Two or three nostalgic references
  • A basketball-related joke
  • Lots of team paraphernalia

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