I gotta talk to my people that actively get on the court for a minute. Okay, you're in a game (pickup or organized) and you score. It could have been a nice one-dribble pull-up from 17 or a catch-and-shoot 3 from the corner. Then, you score again. Now, you've hit two in a row and the confidence begins to swell. So your team has possession again and you just know you're getting the rock for a heat check. You've just dropped consecutive buckets and everyone noticed. Here's where things go bad. You're expecting the pass—hands ready, feet square, shooting shoulder locked—and your teammate just hoists what could possibly be the worst shot since Dr. Naismith first put up peach baskets. You watch in confusion as the ball forcefully clangs off the rim, and you're left wondering, "What if," as you scramble (if you scramble) back on transition defense. If you can testify to this, then you were got by a player I like to call, "Run-Stoppers."
*Obama voice* Now, let's be clear. If Player A hits two in a row and his teammate hits an open three or cuts for a nice layup, Player A is not the victim of a run-stopper. Run-stoppers, as part of their fundamental truth, will always take a terrible shot. Said terrible shot will lead to a long rebound, which leads to a score for the opposition. I've been the victim of this plenty of times, and there is no way to avoid them. Also, do not confuse the run-stopper with the "jock," "heist-box," "black hole," or whatever your area's term is for someone that shoots too much. Run-stoppers do not necessarily have to want to shoot all the time. However, they see your consecutive scores as a green light for them to get their shine on. And I must stress that the shot they take while you're waiting for the extra pass is always terrible; and usually after a move that isn't in their repertoire. It's usually after mindless dribble to nowhere and an under-direst hoist towards the basket. The funny part is that everyone observant knows it's a bad shot, and the gym goes silent for about 48 seconds as everyone but the run-stopper has the, "What the hell?" thought bubble pop into their minds. And get this, the run-stopper will not—I repeat, not—say, "My bad," or pat his chest as any form of repentance. He will just jog back down the court behind the play like it's all good. It's borderline disrespect. It's as if he says, "Well, your buckets are okay, but they're inferior to my horrendously awful shot selection." In fact, run-stoppers are habitual line-steppers; continuously crossing the understood boundary of feeding the hot hand for their own selfish wishes. The run-stoppers aren't just found at your local "Y" or shaded blacktop. They have infiltrated the professional ranks. They do not include any of the superstars because superstars, by definition, can shoot whenever they want. After the random picture, I will name a few so you will be on the lookout for them this upcoming season.
Linas Kleiza. I've seen Kleiza play since he went to high school here in the DC area (shout-out to my boy Andrew who dunked on him); and since he was a D-1 talent, he had the proverbial green light. Well, must feel he's still at Montrose Christian because as soon as he's in the game, it becomes all about him. Everyone knows that JR Smith is the flame off the bench. Everyone, except Kleiza, that is. JR could be on the verge of one of his patented scoring streaks, and Linas will gladly hoist up a contested triple. Granted, he can shoot, but he is not good enough to take liberties like that. I don't care if George Karl is the coach or not.
Zach Randolph. Zeebo is really talented. He has impeccable post footwork and is really great at playing angles. But don't let anyone else like, say, Nate Robinson start to catch some fire. Z will gladly take the ball at 15 feet, and proceed to ignore his teammates for however long it takes him to shoot. Maybe that's why he's on his fourth team despite being a proven 20-10 guy. Or maybe it's stuff like this. Eh, take your pick.
DeShawn Stevenson. Picking on DeShawn is easy. He was on the embarrassing end of Lebron's Crabhammer, and has been associated with Soulja Boy. That isn't exactly a winning combination. Combine that with this false bravado that he can actually score, and he is the main reason the Wizards aren't that good (yeah, I said it). Stevenson frequently takes long-range shots like he's a marksman from distance. They always seem to come right when Caron or Antawn are about to get going. Even Nick Young's touches are worth more than Stevenson's. Hopefully, Flip sees the light and buries him next to Mike James (another run-stopper) on the bench.
Sasha Vujacic. First off, no one can have a self-given nickname. That's wack and proves you're not worth much on the court. Second, if you're "The Machine," shouldn't you be more than just a backup shooter that only plays when he shoots well? Shouldn't you be shooting well if you're a machine? Does that mean you're malfunctioning? Anyway, Vujacic will kill any Laker 8-0 run with his quick trigger. Part of it is that's all he can do with some sort of regularity; and part of it is that Lamar Odom—who usually runs the second team—is too unselfish to say anything. Take it back to NY on him...or at least get Ron-Ron to do it next year. I know he will.
That concludes my list of NBA run-stoppers. As usual, if you feel I'm wrong or have some players I've missed, leave it in the comments.