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Let's Be Unreasonable Here: Basketball: A game of ducks, knickerbockers

Bombay Sapphire Gin, a dash of blue Curacao, tonic, an olive, a slice of orange garnish and a New York bar, and, ta-da! You have the Lintini! Yes, it’s “Linsanity” high time across all of New York and much of the world as the basketball sensation Jeremy Lin sweeps the sports stage, transforming himself from a virtual unknown dumped by both Golden State and Houston to the New York Knicks superstar.

But the sport by which Lin has climbed to the global spotlight hasn’t always been the clear-cut, TV-air-able (if that’s even a word) game it’s perceived as now.

No, not at all. In fact, basketball used to consist of people chucking stones at each other’s ducks (not the animal).

Let’s back up a little before we all begin to question how ducks and basketball ever got tangled in an article referencing Jeremy Lin.

Basketball began in Massachusetts, at a YMCA in Springfield. There, the to-be basketball founder, James Naismith, was asked to develop an indoor game so that athletes would not have to play outside in the cold Massachusetts weather.

Naismith then introduced a game that he called “Duck on a Rock.” In the game, two players stood on opposite ends of the court. Each person had his or her own basket called a “duck” and each player would try to throw stones into the opponent’s basket, while the opponent would try to block the stones.

A player would win by chucking as many stones as possible into the opponent’s basket, or by knocking the opponent’s basket over. This would be referred to as “knocking the duck off its rock.”

Apparently, the killing of small birds by launching earth-based projectiles must have been quite the hobby at the time in order to inspire such a strange name.

Practical joke? Who knows! Either way, it became a rather popular game. Somebody suggested that instead of throwing stones into the basket on the ground, the basket should be put on top of a pole.

Afterward, stones were traded for balls, and the bottom of the peach baskets used on the poles were hollowed out so that the ball would fall through once it went in.

The ball itself was a masterpiece of ingenuity. The early basketball was dark brown and was basically derived from a rounded football. Custom basketballs were created during the time, and consisted of pieces of leather wrapped around an animal bladder.

And with a mutilated peach basket and an animal bladder, basketball was born.

In fact, the game became so popular that, during World War I, hundreds of YMCA coaches were sent along with American troops to Europe so that they could instruct soldiers in basketball for the soliders’ entertainment. Naismith himself paid a visit to France during WWI to help popularize the game.

Strangely enough, the first game of basketball resembling the modern version was played in 1892 in a YMCA gymnasium. The final score was 1-0. Imagine sitting through that bore of a match.

Coincidentally, the team that Jeremy Lin plays on, the New York Knicks, was one of the founding members of today’s NBA. The full name of the team is formally “New York Knickerbockers.” Knickerbockers referred to the breeches that Dutch colonists used to wear.

Yes. The New York Knicks were named after pants.

No wonder the New York Knicks don’t have a registered mascot. Imagine watching a giant pair of pants parade down the basketball court during a rally.

But, no matter. Regardless of how strange the mascot, go get yourself a Lintini from the local bar. And if the bartenders don’t know how to make one, please, bring my article and enlighten them.

Kevin Hwang is a junior at Athens High School, takes classes at OU and is a columnist for The Post. Email him at

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