The Biggest Magic Tricks of the NBA Season

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2013

The Biggest Magic Tricks of the NBA Season

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    The NBA is where magic happens—literally.

    After decades of watching NBA basketball, I have come to the conclusion that the only possible explanation for some things is actual real magic.

    Some NBA players may have convinced us they went to Duke, North Carolina or Michigan but I’m on to them. They went to Hogwarts where they learned the true tricks of the trade.

    Of course such a charge is in need of video evidence. There is no trick photography or editing in the following videos. Each of these incidents really happened, as can be attested by tens of thousands who saw the action live, as well as, the hundreds of thousands who saw them on live TV.

    They are ranked here according to the level of certainty that the only possible explanation is pure magic.The precise type of magic used is identified as well. 

10. Healing: Golden State Warriors Training Staff

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    When David Lee suffered a torn hip flexor on this play he was supposed to be out for the postseason. Instead he returned for Game 6 of the same series.

    There is only one possible explanation for this. Someone, perhaps Gandalf or Merlin or someone with magical healing ability is secretly employed as a trainer by the Golden State Warriors.

    Lee only played 87 seconds.

    The very fact he was on the court was magical enough. 

    It’s probably worth asking whoever healed David Lee— are they available to work such powers on Derrick Rose?

9. Teleportation: LeBron James

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    LeBron James, apart from being the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen, apparently has some supernatural abilities too, not the least of which is his ability to teleport.

    This is evident in his countless chase-down blocks. Just when an opposing player is confident he has the time to finish at the rim on the fast break, James will come out of nowhere and send the ball soaring in an alternate direction.

    Seriously your majesty, isn't it enough that you’re already the perfectly designed physical specimen and have robot parts? Do you have to resort to using magical abilities as well? 

8. Super Strength: Omer Asik

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    Did you know that Omer Asik is the strongest man in the NBA? If you don’t believe me watch the video. With nary any effort whatsoever, he simultaneously sends about 500 pounds of grown man flinging to the ground.

    It’s a little known fact that his name is Turkish for magically induced super-strength. Of course it could be the other meaning of the word, which means “double-flop.” It all depends on the pronunciation.

    Incidentally, I petition the Olympics to make synchronized flopping the next Olympic sport.

    Did they rehearse that? 

7. The Hex: Tom Thibodeau

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    Not all magic is good magic.

    There is bad magic too, which works against the target—it’s called a hex. Someone is definitely putting the hex on poor Andre Drummond here.

    These weren’t just “air balls” that he shot; they were “error balls.”

    I don’t even know if those are allowed to be defined as free throw “attempts.”

    They are more like “attempted attempts.”

    Perhaps it is someone in the crowd or someone on the Chicago Bulls bench (does Tom Thibodeau have a voodoo doll?) but someone is obviously putting the hex on poor Mr. Drummond. 

6. Sleight of Hand: Ricky Rubio

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    Much of magic is just sleight of hand— making someone think you’re going to do one thing, while you intend to do another—and getting them to focus on the wrong thing. That’s also what we call Ricky Rubio’s entire basketball game.

    When it comes to pure trickeration there is no one who does it like him, as evidenced by this positively astounding move, which involved at least three acts of deception.  First, he creates the steal; then he does the “behind-the-back, made-you-think-I-was-about-to-pass-but-didn’t” dribble; finally he pulls off the, “made-you-think-I-was-going-to-shoot-but-passed” fake to conclude the whole thing.

    No wonder this kid sells tickets! You go to a basketball game and you get a free magic show! 

5. Pyrokinesis: Nate Robinson

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    Pyrokinesis is the magical ability to start fires with your mind, e.g.  Stephen King’s Firestarter. Also, it’s Nate Robinson’s basketball game.

    After torching the Brooklyn Nets for 34 points in the Bulls remarkable comeback from 14 down with 3:15 left to go (led by Robinson’s 23-point, fourth-quarter outburst), he was asked about what he was thinking during the game.

    Robinson responded,

    I always think I’m on fire.’ Kind of like the old-school game NBA Jam. You make a couple, the rim’s on fire. When you shoot the ball, the ball’s on fire. I feel like that at times-well, all the time-whenever I’m in the game.

    So not only is Nate the Skate using pyrokinesis, he admits it! The NBA is going to have to make some offseason rule changes before more teams get burned. 

4. Temporal Distortion: Brandon Jennings

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    The ability to bend time is one of the great magical abilities.With this you can slow time down to a veritable crawl, while the mere humans of the world are doing things on ordinary time, you can do more in 0.7 seconds that most people do all day—or at least get off a game-winning three-point buzzer beater like Brandon Jennings does here.

    What’s remarkable isn’t just that Jennings gets off the shot in time, but that he does so with time to spare.The ball is halfway to the rim before the backboard lights up.

    Temporal distortion is a nice little trick to keep in your back pocket for just the right moment—which then become moments. 

3. Levitation: Gerald Henderson

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    Levitation is the ability to pick up objects, or even yourself, with your mind. For an example of the ability to levitate look at Gerald Henderson’s dunk on Dwight Howard here.

    There are two things utterly remarkable about this. First, there is the way in which Henderson explodes vertically with almost no running start at all. His eyes are square with the rim as he throws the ball down. 

    Second, there is the fact that he’s dunking like that on the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight Howard.

    At least on this occasion, Henderson literally took his game to a different level. 

2. Illusion: Kyrie Irving

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    The illusionist has the ability to create an appearance of something that isn’t true.

    Kyrie Irving, a.k.a Uncle Drew, has the ability to create the illusion that he’s an old man. He also creates the illusion that he is going in one direction when he is actually gong in another. It’s a little something we in the basketball world like to call the “crossover.”

    The thing about the best deception is that even if your brain knows what’s going to happen, even if you know how it happens, it doesn’t matter. When you see it, you still believe in it. 

    When Uncle Drew does his magic, Brandon Knight is as helpless to stop it as he is a Deandre Jordan dunk. His brain believes the illusion. He falls for it once…twice…three times— and all on national TV no less. It was a bad year for Knight. I hope his mom wasn’t watching.

1.Telekinesis: Danilo Gallinari

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    Telekinesis is the ability to use your mind to move inanimate objects, such as basketballs. It is clearly an ability which Danilo Gallinari is imbued with, as evidenced by this utterly ridiculous shot, which if we’re being honest, had no business whatsoever going in.

    “Occam’s Razor” dictates that the simplest explanation is the most likely. So what’s more likely here, that somehow Gallinari got the exact right amount of spin, force and arc to get the ball to go through the net, or that he used his brain to will the ball through the net? Exactly!