Strategies for Defending a Basketball-Playing Dog, by Daniel Carrillo

airbudI was disgusted. How many more times was this dog going to sink an uncontested jumper before the opposing coach changed his approach? The answer didn’t surprise me: Never. He was just going to sit idly by while Buddy put up 30 points on some helpless 12-year olds in the championship game. The only thing that angers me more than the lax laws about basketball-playing dogs in the Charles Martin Smith Classic was the porous defense in a game where everything was on the line. Thus, I decided to sit down with a bottle of whiskey and churn out some pivotal defensive strategies should you be faced with a canine on the hardwood.

Get Physical. This is a cornerstone of any defense. How do you think the Bad Boys of Detroit went back-to-back in 1989 and 1990? They imposed their will, allowed no easy buckets, and didn’t give their opponent space. Same goes if you’re faced with a 55-lb. golden retriever. You stick the most athletic kid on him and you tell him, “get in his pocket.” That’s it. But, Daniel, roughing up a dog is pretty messed up. Well, so is allowing it to go for 40 points in a half.

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense. Even if Air Bud is going for a double nickel nightly, the kid that Air Bud is D’ing up should be going for at least that, if not more. Air Bud is a defensive liability. That kid should be matching Buddy shot-for shot. Post him up. Dribble drive on him. It’s an easy strategy. They’re essentially playing 5 on 4 on the offensive side of the ball. How were the Suns so good in the early 2000s? Was it because of Steve Nash’s sieve defense? No, it was because they could put up 130 on any given night. You don’t have to play great defense if you can outscore the other team. Simple as that.

Deny Him The Ball. The dog has no hands. I repeat, THE DOG HAS NO HANDS. You know Buddy is going to spot-up, so don’t let him touch the rock. The guard will then be forced to kick the ball to Brandon, the chubby kid with asthma that wanted to join theater but is now faced with the task of knocking down a 15-footer.

Trap. Just double team the dog. Simple as that. The second the ball goes his way, close him out. Force the ball out of his paws. Yes, that leaves your defense susceptible to other players going off, but if they were any good, they wouldn’t have A DOG IN THE STARTING LINEUP.

Get A Hand Up. Buddy is no taller than 30 inches on all fours. I don’t want to get to science-y here, but if the launch point is at 2.5 feet, a 5th grader with his arms extended should easily be able to swat any attempted shot.

Get The Refs Involved. Go back and watch the tape. Josh, Buddy’s owner and teammate, is setting moving screen after moving screen to provide space for Buddy to go off. And the refs swallow their whistles while the play happens mere feet from them. That’s when you pull the ref aside and kindly let him know what is going on. But, Daniel, what if it’s a pick-up game, where offensive foul calls are a bit of a faux-pas? Good point. But is your pride worth a canine being the leading scorer in your rec league?

Stricter Laws. If all else fails, just get the pooch banned from the league. Add an addendum that prohibits any other species from participating in any organized basketball due to “safety” concerns. Cite “emotional distress,” noting you don’t want your son growing up with low self esteem because some pup showed him up on the basketball court in front of all his friends and jeering fans. I’m sure that will drive the point home. 

So there you have it. Foolproof, airtight ways to completely demoralize that mutt. And if that doesn’t work, just join the local football league…he plays football too?! SON OF A BITCH.

Daniel Carrillo is a writer living in Nashville. He hasn’t written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ, or Esquire. He’s also writing this bio in third person.

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