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Watch the Tape: Remembering Oliver Miller, and other notable throwers of things

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We take a moment to honour a beloved Raptor. And the fine art of throwing %&*% at people.

Oliver Miller

Watch the Tape will teach you absolutely nothing about basketball, how to watch it better, or how it’s properly played. It WILL take you on a tour of some of the finest, and most random Raptors-related (and sometimes adjacent) material on the net.

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We’re one day away from the anniversary one of the most momentous days in Toronto Raptors history.

I am, of course talking about the Oliver Miller chair throwing game.

On December 5th, 1995, The Big O, as he was (sort of...?) affectionately named, got frustrated with what he felt was the overly physical nature of the Seattle SuperSonics (the NBA in Seattle was a thing once kids, look it up), and attempted to show his displeasure through the very logical approach of tossing a chair at the officials.

Even in the “pre-Malice at the Palace” 1990s, that would have garnered a response from the league office. So, overall, it’s good that Miller, a solid player for those Raps who was ahead of his time as far as a big who had some guard to his game, failed to toss that chair.

But, in honour of last night’s Raptors-Nuggets game, during which I really wanted to throw my chair at the TV, I thought WTT should take a “quick” tour around the league to look at some of the best of: “players tossing shit at people who weren’t expecting said shit toss” of the season.

#1. Josh Richardson vs. The Functionality of Shoes

0:01-0:10: This seems like just a normal basketball play. The Heat are rallying, and Josh Richardson, the Heat’s breakthrough guard, seems to be easing into a potentially big fourth quarter.

0:11-0:15: Richardson attacks the basket, blowing by the Lakers defenders and then missing the dunk.

0:15-0:21: But what’s this? Richardson’s shoe has come off. Richardson flips it towards the crowd, and then almost immediately goes to pick it up. This is both weird, and fun, but on it’s own not Watch The Tape worthy. Instead, like a delicious snail sauteed in garlic, this is just the appetizer.

0:22-0:31 Richardson pleads his case with the official - and then sort of attempts to put his shoe back on, but doesn’t actually put it back on (which seems like a poor move based on his chosen profession).

But why is Richardson so steamed? There didn’t seem to be any contact on the drive.

0:32-0:38: Ah, now it becomes clear. Josh Hart, who was pressuring Richardson from behind, accidentally stepped on Richardson’s shoe, causing it to fall off, and presumably throwing Josh off enough that he misses the dunk.

0:39-0:42: Great close up of Richardson. I give him an eight out of 10 for facial disgust — he loses a point because it’s not clear who he’s angry at (Hart? The Refs? Himself? The shoe-maker?), and a nine out of 10 for the pettiness of the actual flip, which involves a subtle but perfect wrist action to get that sneaker twirling around like a helicopter at a Premiership game.

0:44-1:00: At this point I think there would be a few reasonable ways to react to losing your footwear in an NBA game:

1) Put your shoe on as quickly as possible and hustle into the play.

2) Get the official’s attention while you’re putting the shoe on, and hope he takes pity on you and delays the inbound so you can get into the game.

3) Reluctantly signal for timeout, and get the shoe on.

But Richardson is too Heat to do something so pedestrian, he has to go out in style - and, in another nine out of 10 pettiness move, shows up the officials by continuing to play without his shoe. Basically a: “Screw you Marc Davis, if you can’t do your job properly, why should I?”

(My other favourite part of this is at the 0:53 second mark when LeBron James tells on Richardson for not having his shoe on. I feel like must have been what LBJ looked like in JK, just less facial hair.)

1:00-1:17: Richardson then lifts this performance to a Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski- level of art by firing the shoe randomly into the crowd.

A few points about this:

1. Richardson chucked that thing pretty hard, again with a lot of spin. If that hits you in the face that’s gonna hurt.

2. Richardson isn’t even looking where he’s throwing it. The camera never tracks the toss, but there’s a 50-percent chance it ended up in the mush of a member of Miami’s game ops crew.

3. This is a home game. If you’re going to be whipping footwear around, at least have the dignity to maybe hurt a Lakers fan.

I also appreciate the Heat players sidling up to Richardson and giving him little shoulder squeezes like you do for your kid after he has a tantrum after striking out in T-ball (which is totally a thing, and is actually about the closest metaphor I can find for this whole scenario).

1:23-1:47: A bunch of fun things here:

1) We get LeBron in mid-playoff form of working the refs. I have no idea if this is about Richardson, how LeBron is being defended by the always physical Heat, or if he’s canvassing for support in his inevitable passive-aggressive mid-season “roster upgrade” demands, but it’s good to see LeBron be LeBron.

2) On Richardson, we clearly hear a fan taunt: “You’re not Jordan”.

I know in my heart this is definitely meant for complaining LBJ, but maybe, just maybe, the fan was the one who did track where Richardson tossed his shoe, and made a snap judgment that the G.O.A.T. would have done it better — like in those old McDonald’s commercials.

3) At the very end the announcing crew. with a shocking level of incredulity announce that: “Oh, wow, he threw somebody out of the game?”

Somebody? Whoever could that be? Could it possibly be the guy you’ve been showing on repeat for whipping his shoe into the crowd?

(Bonus points at the 1:45 mark when, after they confirm that it is, indeed, the shoe tosser, being tossed, they urge Richardson to: “take off the other shoe and throw it into the crowd,” causing Adam Silver to have six heart-attacks.)

#2. Kyrie Irving vs. Jamal Murray’s Exaggerated Sense of Self-Importance

0:00-0:10: Jamal Murray is just running out some clock. Nothing to see here. Nope. Move along.

(Except... the Nuggets announcing crew is openly wondering if Murray, who has a fantastic reputation for being a troll, might not just take a meaningless jumper to get him to 50 for the night.)

0:11-0:14: Murray, again, because he is a fantastic troll, takes the shot — right in the middle of the play-by-play guy saying he’s not going to.

0:16-0:19: Look at that face. That is a man with a healthy amount of disdain for the unwritten rules of the NBA. That’s a face that says: “I’m not going to shoot for 50? Seriously? FOH!”

Jamal Murray is a national treasure.

0:21-0:24: Isaiah Thomas comes in. I feel, deep in my soul, that Isaiah Jamar Thomas was very happy that Murray took that shot. (Jamar, in a rarity for this column, actually being Isaiah Thomas’ middle name.)

0:25-0:28: Jamal Murray is still talking. What’s best about this? Nobody from the Celtics has even come over to him.

Murray is definitely shutting down his ghost critics tho’. Like 1,000%

0:39-0:45: The scene shifts to Kyrie Irving. You can tell he’s just been talking to Murray because who else can make someone that agitated? We get a hand flips, a head-shake, a ball toss and a look back.

How Jamal Murray is not playing on a line with Brad Marchand I will never know.

The actual ball toss is pretty exceptional too.

1) Kyrie does this on the road, where the chance to injure an opposing fan is much higher.

2) But, because Kyrie is a gentleman, he puts some serious air on this thing. If you get clubbed by the ball in this scenario, you just weren’t paying attention (although your buddy who Instagrammed the whole thing and didn’t warn you definitely was.)

3) The reverse angle shows it much better (0:46-0:53), but Kyrie launched that ball.

Overall, this might be the most impressive thing about the whole incident. I mean, have you ever tried slinging a basketball? One handed? You’re lucky if you don’t throw out your shoulder for a month. Kyrie Irving is an athlete.

4) There is also a 10% chance this whole thing had nothing to do with Murray’s shot and this was just Kyrie reacting to someone dissing his flat-earth theory, by tossing the nearest globe-shaped thing as far as possible.

#3. Patrick Beverly vs. People Who Talk About Other People’s Mothers

0:00-0:10: Like so many of these, this one starts with what seems like a mostly innocuous but physical play.

Patrick Beverley strips Harrison Barnes of the ball, and a scrum ensues. Dennis Smith Jr. came in a little hot, and Harrison Barnes goes down hard, but other than that — normal stuff.

Ah, but context matters.

Earlier in the game there was another scrum and this happened.

Yep, Patrick Beverley popped out Dennis Smith’s tooth. Beverley of course has a reputation for, uh, hard-nosed play, and that lead us to...

0:35-0:43: Beverley throws a bounce pass in the direction of one of the court-side fans.

Apparently this is someone named Don Knobler.

I have learned a few things about Don Knobler

1) He is considered the Mavericks superfan. He is, in fact, known worldwide as such (sure, we’ll go with that).

2) Don Knobler’s style is not to get up, or move, but apparently to take Larry Bird-esque flings at the hoop from behind the backboard.

3) Don Knobler’s business is real-estate. Rental mostly. And he’s made a lot of money at it, and is considered something of a savant in figuring out where the market is going.

He is, also, according to all abilities to review his company online — some sort of slum lord.

4) Knobler is also known for his sartorial splendour - making him look like a somehow impossibly even less-in-touch Richard Branson.

Now, technically Beverley’s bounce pass is considered throwing something into the crowd by the NBA and is punishable by an automatic ejection This is a good rule. Players should not be throwing things at the people who pay their salaries (unless Dan Snyder is somehow involved).

However.... Knobler allegedly said one of two things about Beverley, after calling Beverley a “dirty player” (see Smith Jr., Dennis, missing a tooth). Knobler allegedly either said: “Your Mother”, or, more nastily, “F--- your Mother”.

Neither of these are exactly the sort of thing you want to hear from fans, and makes you wonder if Knobler wasn’t known “worldwide” and stinking rich, if he might have also been ejected.

Either way, given Beverley’s reputation, the fact Knobler just has to get his hands on a simple bounce pass (which he fumbles), is pretty amazing.

Now, on to a few other bits:

  • Dennis Smith is still a bit testy about that tooth thing. He comes into Beverley with force. Unfortunately he first manages a classic friendly fire incident by slamming Harrison Barnes with his shoulder.
  • I love how Barnes spends the entirety of the two-minute clip lying on his back on the floor. He waves off multiple opportunities to help him, instead opting for a “nah, I’m good” approach to continuing play — which is appropriate because that’s was his attitude to making three-pointers in the 2016 finals.
  • Smith gets a solid 6.5 on the petty scale for his vociferous clapping as Beverley is shown the gate. The barely-there smirk isn’t near Kobe’s level, but shows potential (the other way Smith Jr. is like late-career Kobe? Hijacking possessions and shooting low percentages.)
  • And in the: “was this about to go somewhere racist?” category — as Beverley leaves the game, the Mavs broadcast crew inexplicably informs us that, “he of course is the NBA player who most resembles rapper Wyclef Jean.”

Which, I am sure they had a totally defensible reason for bringing up. Such as: “Rapper Wyclef Jean of course being the member of the Fugees who has thrown the most projectiles at Dallas-area slumlord Don Knobler.”