Ball don’t lie.
For the pure of heart this is the season of fall foliage, when all the beauty and joy of past months is distilled into an explosion of brilliant colors just before the end. Whether or not you have a mascot among those sixty-four teams, or even those thirty-two in the NIT, and whether with the men’s or women’s sport, this is the time of basketball ambrosia.
Every sport has a unique culture and history, an atmosphere created as much by a pantheon of mythic personalities and reputations as by those currently playing the game. The squeak of latex soles on glassy hardwood and that unique sound of a rubber bladder inside a leather sheath bouncing between floor boards and calloused palms, emanates from basketball Valhalla and engulfs every real-time game that is played.
“Ball don’t lie,” may be the golden rule of basketball spirituality. It comes from, or was made famous by, a great if dark figure in the pantheon. Rasheed Wallace was a beast of the boards. He was that rare species of player whose tenacious defense and voracious rebounding compensated enough for his exceedingly thin offense, that he was a starter and a star anyway. Wallace owns the NBA record for the most ejections in a career, and maybe even the most technical fouls. In fact, he was once ejected for merely saying, “Ball don’t lie.”
Let’s put flesh on this evangelical proclamation. Close your eyes and pretend we are on opposites sides of a basketball game. I am dribbling to the basket for a layup, and I am pretty slow so you have time to reposition yourself to go up and block my shot. As I lift off (all of three inches from the floor), you jump up and swat the ball away. A clean and perfect block. But wait, there is a whistle. That maniac in a black and white striped shirt says you fouled me. Your face gets red with frustration, even righteous indignation. You can’t believe what a bad ref that fat, bald, S.O.B really is. I go to the foul line, you take your position on the block ready to rebound. I shoot a perfectly formed free throw. It is a high arching shot that appears headed straight into the cylinder with a swish, except it touches the edge of the rim ever so slightly. Just enough to rattle the ball out for a miss. “Ball don’t lie,” you say to me, or maybe to the ref, with a smile on your face.
In basketball spirituality there is karma, a hardwood heavenly body of gods who sometimes review the play and reverse the call. It is the only hope for a player against the mortal dictators in black and white stripes.
The Mueller report is now in, and because it does not include an indictment of President Trump for conspiracy with the Russians or obstruction of justice, the President and his sycophant cronies will claim justification and redemption. And yet, there have been thirty-four indictments with six guilty pleas, composed of Trump advisors, twenty-six Russian nationals, and three-Russian companies. There will surely be more New York based indictments and prosecutions to come. Ball don’t lie.