Friday, April 8, 2005

The No Layup Rule

   Advice is generally worth what it costs....nothing.

   That said, the best things in life are free.

   It's supposed to be that confusing...otherwise, people would figure it out, and spend their days robbing what innocents were left.

   Work, religion,'s all a plot by the Man to keep you down. They want you passive and easily led, slaving for a pittance. Charity is a weakness in man, as are sympathy and remorse. All through history, rulers have encouraged these traits that they themselves lack.

   In order to truly seize power, you have to be able to act without worrying about the harm you do. You have to think of the greater good. Sure, it isn't fair to have serfs toiling on your lands for sustenance earnings, while you have 100 virgins fanning you as you eat entire turkeys. But otherwise, society would lack order, and we'd all be dead in a generation.

   Very few people rise to the top without crushing some innocents. One might take that for granted when examining Saddam Hussein's rise to power....but one might not think of it when looking at George Bush, the Pope or an American Idol winner.

   Simply put, there are dozens of losers for every winner. The difference between winners and losers is often miniscule, and usually related to the winner doing whatever was needed to emerge on top of the losers.

   I knew this when I was seven years old. I learned it from my father, who used an example from the sporting world to illustrate his point. From that moment on, I trained myself to remove pity/charity/fair play from my playbook.

   I was my father's daughter, as they say....and we liked to watch sports together. We were both Celtic fans of the most vehement kind, and I can honestly say that I missed no Celtic playoff games for the entire Larry Bird era...even his rookie year, where I was still young enough to believe that a Christian saint would land  his reindeer on my roof and give me presents.

   It was 1984 when my life took a turn to the Machiavellian. The Celtics were playing the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven game series, and the first game was an outright drubbing of my team by the Los Angelesos.

   The Lakers had Kareem, Magic, Worthy, and the gang. They would eventually become the team of the decade, winning 5 NBA titles. They were the heavy favorites to win the series in 1984. They won the first game by 30 points, and were beginning to kick the tar out of us in Game 2. As Laker forward Kurt Rambis took the ball and went in for an easy layup, things looked bleak in Boston.

   Then...things changed. Rather than allowing Rambis to score the easy basket, Celtic forward Kevin McHale simply caught him in mid-air, grabbed him around the neck, and threw him to the ground. It was brutal, and I was surprised to see Rambis get up afterwards. There was nearly a big fight, and McHale was assessed a flagrant foul.

   My father laughed briefly, then turned to me to deliver what I was sure was going to be a speech about fair play. Instead, he said, "That's the No Layup Rule, honey.....Never allow an easy basket in the playoffs." He didn't say anything else....and to be honest, he didn't have to.

   McHale's savage assault on Rambis set the tone for the rest of the series. The freewheeling Lakers were suddenly hesitant. Celtic forward Cedric Maxwell noted, "Before that hit, the Lakers were running across the street like kids. Now, they push the button, look both ways, and walk out holding their mother's hand." The Celtics won a tight series, and only the dense couldn't see that McHale had essentially cowed an entire basketball team.

   The Lakers were a fine team, and I'm sure that they would have swept the Celtics in that series if we had played nice with them. Instead, we set the tone, and made them skip to our tune for the rest of the series. Built forspeed  and finesse, the Lakers were at a disadvantage in the rougher game that the Celtics forced them into.

   The lesson stayed with me. The Lakers learned it as well. A few years later, they signed a brute  named Maurice Lucas, and they beat the Celtics easily. Laker coach Pat Riley never again built a team around finesse, and many great NBA brawls of the 1990s were instigated by Riley teams....including the hilarious Alonzo Mourning/Larry Johnson fight, which featured 5 foot 6 inch coach Jeff Van Gundy holding onto Mourning's leg as he was dragged across the court in the fight.

   At some point in everyone's life, they come across a problem that they can't handle. A debt too large to pay, a co-worker who is simply better than you at the job, a pretty neighbor who can catch  your husband's eye....we all become underdogs at least  once in our lives. 

   That's why the No Layup Rule was invented. The people who hold you down expect you to stand there like a goof while they dunk on you. When you instead smash them into a nice parquet floor, they'll learn the lesson I learned at my father's knee in 1984.

   The best thing about the No Layup Rule is that the logic is there for all to see. While I was able to rationalize the McHale clothesline due to my rabid following of the Celtics, I needed no moral gymnastics to watch the bullied Lakers lose the series in so enjoyable a fashion. The Celtic win was positive reinforcement.

   The No Layup Rule is advice that I already know I'd have accepted as a teenager, because I saw the wisdom of it as a seven year old girl in 1984. Kids, and especially teenagers, have a pretty sophisticated bulls**t filter in their perception. Schools, church, and finance cow them into playing along with the system. It takes a landmark event like the McHale clothesline to show us that sometimes cheaters do win, and the Low Road is often the best way to the castle gates.

Weekend Assignment #54: Tell us all a single piece of wisdom you've learned from personal life experience. It can be a small thing, it can be a big thing, a simple tip or trick or the most important thing you've ever learned from life. But whatever it is, you should be able to state it in one sentence. That way people will remember it easier.

Extra Credit: Tell us: Would you have listened to your own bit of advice as a teenager? Be honest, now.


gailmb said...

Great words of wisdom and excellent story to describe it. Superb.

plittle said...

After Charles Oakley left the Toronto Raptors, they apparently forgot the No Layup Rule. :(

skandc71 said...

Kids if you have braces never put a 9 volt battery to them. If you do you might wake up on the floor and wonder where you are.

maluisa3 said...

I learn in life that;  If you don´t put things in writting and sign it in are kaput!. The words fly with the wind.

dennisb821 said...

Very similar to the no layup rule is "What goes around comes around" Hence the Lakers beating the Celtics at their own game.....