A Thing of Beauty


This one is for the basketball purists.

For those who love the fundamentals of the game, there is nothing more beautiful than a well-run pick & roll.  Actually there is - the same two blokes scoring off the pick & roll a variety of different ways time after time after time.

You see, the real beauty is in the harmony that exists between the two players and their ability to counter all of the varying ways in which the defense is playing them.

This ability to read the defense was the key to the famous Stockton/Malone pick & roll.

The theory was that no matter how the defense decided to defend the sequence, they could not take away every option.  Stockton and Malone would read the D, notice how they were being played and punish their opposition accordingly.

What are you gonna do?

Fight over the screen and have the big-man hard hedge?  Stock’s gonna take two hard dribbles towards the middle of the floor and hit the Mailman rolling to the hoop.

You gonna slip underneath the screen?  You’re kidding yourself – Stock’s gonna stick that jumper all night long.

How about we jump out hard and trap Stockton?  Karl’s gonna get you on the pick & pop.

I know!  We’ll force Stockton away from the screen and we’ll get the big to help out low-side.  Sorry – Stock will draw the big with one straight dribble before dropping it off to the Mailman diving straight to the front of the hoop.

Speaking of diving to the hoop… that’s what Karl’s gonna do if you start hedging out too early.  Hammer dunk.

Yep, the Stockton and Malone pick & roll was a thing of absolute basketball beauty. What’s interesting is that Stockton could sense their on-court connection as soon as Malone arrived in Utah. ”The first practice playing with him, even though he was an immediate starter and I was still a backup, something just clicked.” Stockton said recently.”He knew where I was going to throw passes. I seemed to know where he was going to be open. I knew it was something special.”

If you love the game for more than just ankle-breaking crossovers or put-back dunks. … if there’s something about the symmetry between teammates that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside… you’re gonna love this seven minutes of grainy pick & roll footage for your Throwback Thursday.


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I like to think that I bring the all-important little man’s perspective to the Downtown crew. The rim may be 10-feet high folks but the court, itself, is at ground level. My one season playing ball on the national scene was back in 2001/02, when I played the vital role of 4th-string PG as a member of the Victoria Titans. Go back and watch the tapes, I’m confident that only Patty Mills outranks me worldwide as an end-of-the-bench towel-waver. This experience, however, gives me the kind of an insight into pro hoops that can only be gained by spending time ‘behind the curtain’. These days I spend most of my spare time squeezing every last cent out of my League Pass subscription. And when I’m not playing, watching, writing about or podcasting about basketball, you’ll find me soundly outplaying all-comers at the fantasy version of the game. Safe to say that if I had a tatoo it would say ‘mum’. But if I had two tatoos, the second one would definitely be of a basketball. Follow me on twitter: @Downtownball