November 1 - 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, family....it'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 throughout 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 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. They've all stomped some balls in their day.
Simply put, there are dozens of losers for every winner. The difference between winners and losers is
often miniscule, and is usually related to the winner doing whatever was needed to emerge on top of
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 personal morality.
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, when 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
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...everything changed. Declining to allow 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 with
such force that people in Indoneasia were disturbed. 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 with his directed brutality.
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. We instead set the tone, and made them skip to our tune for the rest of the
series. Built for speed 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 melee.
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 the 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 of what most would deem a negative (and perhaps criminal)
Kids, and especially teenagers, have a pretty sophisticated bulls**t filter in their perception. Schools,
church, family 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 that the Low Road is often
the best way to the castle gates.