Basketball From The Couch


I love to watch the Suns "run and gun" scoring within four or five seconds following a basket by the opposition.

Three years ago, I baked bread while my boyfriend watched the Suns. He was yelling so loud, and seemed to be having fun, that I decided to join him.

Women do silly things when in love.

This year, I was the first in the office to distribute Suns schedules. I dressed in orange and purple this past Halloween, wearing one of my three Suns shirts.

I cheered when "my team" stole the win from the Washington Wizards. I complained louder than my boyfriend when they lost their second game in a row to the Miami Heat on Monday.

You are supposed to win on your home court, boys.

During the course of three years, I have had to learn new terminology. My guy has patiently explained plays.

"Turnovers" are not filled with apples.

Turnovers happen when the offense loses possession of the ball.

In case there are others not lucky enough to have someone special explain basketball terminology, here are a few definitions:

"Full court press" does not refer to pushups in practice.

It is when defenders guard the offense in the backcourt.

"Backcourt" is the area from the midcourt line to the end line furthest from the offense's basket.

"A backcourt violation" is not what happened to New York Knicks' coach Isiah Thomas, recently convicted of sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, basketball is not immune from tabloid fodder.

Women take notice, former Suns player, now of the New Jersey Nets, Jason Kidd, may soon be on the "rebound" from his messy divorce. But in basketball terms, rebound means when a player grabs a ball that is coming off the rim or the backboard after a shot attempt.

The Suns need to get more rebounds, both offensively and defensively, if they are to win the coveted NBA championship trophy.

The Suns have never won an NBA championship.

A win would surely cause Al McCoy, longtime radio broadcaster for the Suns, to say "Shazam!"

"Small ball" is when the ability to score is based on speed and jump shots, rather than big men under the basket.

A "screen" is used in a "pick and roll."

Screens happen when an offensive player stands between his teammate and a defender to give his teammate the chance to take an open shot.

When teammate one blocks the path of an opposing player so teammate two has a clear path to the basket, it is a pick and roll play.

A "slam dunk" is a good thing but you get penalized for "showboating" or hanging on the rim too long.

When one of the five players in the starting lineup, leaves the court (such as guard, Raja Bell) the "sixth man," Leandro Barbosa, comes onto the court.

The Brazilian Blur won the NBA's Sixth Man award in 2007.

The key to a sixth man is a player who will come off the bench and give the team some energy.

Brian Skinner (a center, sometimes forward who typically spells center, Amare Stoudemire) is not a sixth man, but he has certainly been giving his team energy off the bench with accurate shots within the three-point line and has played strong defense or "good D."

A "triple double" is not earned by tripping two players at once. It is when a player obtains double-digit figures in three categories, which typically includes points, rebounds and assists. It could also include steals or blocks.

"The paint" is the painted rectangular area under the basket.

A defending player can't stay "in the paint" longer than three seconds.

The "weak side" is any side that the basketball is not on.

When sportscasters use "behind the line," the term could refer to the three-point line or the free-throw line.

"Shut up!" I yell to TV sportscaster Tom Leander, when Suns' guard Steve Nash is getting ready to take a free throw and Leander says, "He hasn't missed a shot."

Nash is shooting 94.6 percent in free-throw attempts this season, so my superstitions probably don't matter.

"Man to man" refers to a one-on-one defensive style, compared to "zone D" where the player is responsible for defending a certain area on the court.

"They called a foul on the Matrix" means the refs called a foul against Shawn Marion.

Each player is allowed five personal fouls in a game. On the sixth, they must leave the game. A basketball team is allowed four fouls per quarter, at the fifth; whoever was fouled on the opposing team gets to shoot two free throws.

A "flagrant foul" is what the referee called on Robert Horry of the San Antonio Spurs, for shoving Steve Nash into the scorer's table with just minutes left in the game in last season's playoffs.

STAT (standing tall and talented, 6' 10" Stoudemire) and 3D (Boris Diaw) jumped off the bench to see if Nash was all right. The ref gave them a one game suspension for leaving the bench. Horry got two for the foul. Consequently, 3D and STAT missed a pivotal playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Baseball has extra innings, football has sudden death and, basketball has overtime, if the teams are tied at the end of the fourth quarter.

"Period" is a term used interchangeably with "quarter."

In NBA basketball, a quarter lasts 12 minutes. There are four quarters in a game.

These minutes are broken up with time-outs for the coaches to plan good plays or yell at their team, plus time-outs for commercials, which watchers at home can TIVO through.

By the time this article prints, the Suns will have played the 13-9 Utah Jazz. Notice I am not jinxing the game by saying the Suns will win. But they will.

Saturday, they play New Orleans in the first game of a three-game road trip that includes Western Conference rivals Dallas Mavericks and current NBA champions, San Antonio Spurs.

I'll be cheering or yelling with Suns coach Mike D'Antoni from the comfort of my living room.

Editor's Note: Max Foster will return in two weeks. He is recovering from surgery and doing well by all accounts.

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