The unwritten rules of shooting a 3-pointer when you’ve already won
The Celtics got Big Mad when Jamal Murray threw up a three-pointer when the game was out of reach. Let’s examine this unwritten rule they deem to be broken. Jamal Murray went off for 48 points on 19-of-30 shooting, including 5-of-11 from three-point range, against the Celtics on Monday night. It was the kind of night the Nuggets knew Murray was capable of against one of the Eastern Conference favorites coming into the season. But at the end of the game when the Celtics had put their guard down, Murray threw up a three to try to eclipse 50 points. He missed, but everything went left from there. Murray broke unwritten rules, and in sports, that is regarded as a capital offense. Here’s the crime in question: Jamal Murray really wanted 50 pic.twitter.com/19scaSA6Or— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) November 6, 2018 Kyrie Irving was Big Mad about the shot, and this is quite honestly the best part about the whole ordeal. He took the basketball (which Murray likely would have preferred to keep) and heaved it into the stands: Kyrie threw the ball into the crowd after Jamal Murray's attempt to make 50-points as the game ended pic.twitter.com/Vbx3oNxmaf— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 6, 2018 That’s not some “hey kid, here you go” souvenir toss either. Irving was trying to send that Spalding to Mars. You could feel the energy from his rage go into that throw. When somebody is that mad, it’s hilarious nine times out of 10. Irving’s quote afterward is the icing on what is an incredibly salty cake: Kyrie Irving: “I felt disrespected after the game. So your career-high ball goes in the stands.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 6, 2018 Don’t get me wrong, Irving has reason to be mad, and we’ll get to that. But the levels of mad are so very funny. This unwritten rule is pretty basic: all effort exerted in a basketball game is supposed to stop when the opposing defense has decided they are a dead corpse. If time permits, you dribble the ball just past halfcourt, dap up some teammates or opponents, untuck your jersey, pretend to wave at somebody in the crowd you know, whatever. But you don’t shoot, you don’t dunk, and you don’t dribble around opposing players (looking at you again, Jamal Murray). The Celtics gave up, but briefly put Smell Your Breath pressure on Murray when the ball was being inbounded. Nothing long enough to indicate they were doing anything other than throwing up the white flag though: After Murray got away and crossed half court, it seemed like he was going to dribble the game to its conclusion. Here’s what everybody on the Celtics was doing, when Murray started to think otherwise: When surrender is shown, it’s usually wise to acknowledge it. At least, that’s only if you’re looking to avoid confrontation and play by the unwritten rule. Metaphorically speaking, Murray threw a punch after the bell had been rung. That’s the perceived problem. The easy and solid counterargument to the Celtics’ saltiness: Don’t let him light your team up for 48 points! Murray had done Actually Disrespectful things during the game like some killer crossovers and smooth fadeaway jumpers. One more shot at the end of the game is the least of the Celtics’ troubles on this particular night, in the grand scheme of things. This moment was also different. Murray wasn’t having some average night and just being a jackass, or simply a MiLLEnNiaL as your uninformed dork uncle might say. He was two points shy of a 50-piece. There have been 488 regular season 50-point games in NBA history, and Wilt Chamberlain has 118 of them. A 50-burger isn’t super uncommon, but the list of players that have earned them is short relative to the thousands of players who have played the game in the NBA’s seven decades and change of basketball. So yeah, Murray was caught in the moment trying to get 50 points. He said as much afterward: “I think my emotions took over, as it normally does. No disrespect to the Boston organization and fans with that shot — I just had in my mind that I was going to go 50, and I think everybody kind of understood that was what I was trying to do. ”I really wasn’t meaning no disrespect. ... I know half the team over there, so no hard feelings.” The crowd was gassing the 21-year-old up, and he obliged. He also pissed off people along the way. If you think about it, it’s a weird assumption that just because a losing team is giving up in a game that is out of reach, the winners should just drop dead too. But there’s a reason for it. The idea behind players giving up with time left is human courtesy, which has its place in sports via unwritten rules like this one. If there’s one unwritten rule in sports that the majority of players and fans don’t mind, it’s probably this one. This rule is why we don’t deal with something like the Murray situation very often. Most people like the idea of being nice to each other in all lanes of life, and that’s good. And Murray was mostly apologetic after the game when he could have talked about the best performance of his young career instead. He seemed to understand why this unwritten rule is so accepted. So yeah, while most unwritten rules are pretty dumb, this one at least kind of makes sense. But if an unwritten rule is going to be broken, it’s going to broken in the NBA. The Association’s ability to be human is part of why people love the brand, and its popularity is rapidly growing. I mean, players get into Twitter and Instagram wars like normal people in 2018. This humanness works in the opposite direction a lot, by the way. Old heads like to torch the NBA nowadays because players are friends with each other on and off the court. Murray is an example of much of the NBA and its players would like to treat basketball for what it is — a game. Wild concept, I know. If I was Murray, I also would have taken the shot to get 50. It’s 50! But if I was Irving, I’d also probably be a little ticked, though I like to think I wouldn’t show it by heaving the basketball and letting everybody know how salty I am. You probably feel the same way, and you’d be justified in either instance. If there’s an unwritten truth about the NBA that we can all agree on it’s that being you is highly encouraged.