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The GIST's Guide to Basketball

You may not believe it, but a basketball court is more than just a place for awkward middle school dances.


Basketball is made up of four quarters lasting 12 minutes each. Five players on each team are on the court at the same time. The point of the game is to shoot a basketball in a hoop to get the most baskets which = the most points. A basket counts as either two or three points, depending on how far the shooter was from the basket when she took the shot. Unlike any other sport, basketball brings out the rich and famous which makes playing  #spotthecelebrity so fun. You can always see the hottest celebs (let’s be honest we really only care about Jay-Z and Beyonce) sitting courtside.

How is it organized?

The best league in the world is the National Basketball Association aka NBA. The league is split into two conferences (East and West), and each of those conferences are further divided into three divisions. The teams are playing for a chance to be the NBA Finals Champions. There are 30 teams in the league, and only one team in Canada - our Toronto Raptors! The Raptors have been absolutely KILLIN’ IT these last couple years earning the hearts of the country... #WETHENORTH BABY!! Our celeb ambassador is October’s Very Own, Drake (aka Aubrey Graham, aka Jimmy *RIP*).

The Best of the Best

The two best teams are far and away the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. These squads have faced off in the last four NBA Finals, with Golden State winning the first, Cavs winning the second, and Golden State winning the last two. On the other hand, the MVP is quite a controversial topic in the NBA...too many players think they are the best *rolls eyes*. The top ballers in the league are Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Lebron James (prior Cleveland Cavaliers and now LA Laker), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder). That said, we care the most about our Raptors. The best dinos on the court are Kyle Lowry (who also has one of the best booty’s you will ever see) and DeMar DeRozan

Hoop Hunnies!

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is one of the best professional leagues for women in North America as these basketball bosses actually get airtime on top sports networks in the US. One of the top players right now is Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks). At a 6’4” she became the first woman to EVER dunk in a NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) back in 2006 when she was only a freshman. Like, pardon me?! We can’t even jump high enough to reach out top shelf in the kitchen. Honourable mention to our Canadian ballas who are now ranked 6th in the world after an incredibly impressive 2016 Summer Olympics in Rrrrrrrrrrio.

If ya don’t know, now ya know

Okay so, before going into any facts, can we please just appreciate this Lil Bow Wow #tbt. This song is still one of the best bangers out there ( . Otherwise, all ya need to know is that basketball was created in 1981 by James Naismith who is CANADIAN!! Oh freaking Canada!

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Literally just bouncing the basketball up and down consecutively.


When you move your feet without dribbling the basketball. If you’re not dribbling the basketball, you have to keep your feet planted. The only time you can take two steps is when you’re making a lay up toward the net.


You know how you can’t take more than 2 steps with the ball? You can still move around by keeping one foot planted and pivoting around with the other one.

GIF - Ross from TV show, Friends, screaming pivot while moving furniture

Lay Up:

This is the most common way to score in basketball but it sounds kinda complicated. It’s when a player drives to the basket, takes two steps and tosses the ball up so it bounces off the back-board and into the net.

Slam Dunk:

When a player is REALLY tall, they’re able to jump high enough to get their hand(s) and the ball above the basket. A slam dunk is when they jump up and then slam the ball into the hoop - it is AWESOME.

Three Pointer:

When you nail your shot from beyond the three-point line, aka the arc (and also get 3 points instead of 2!!). It gets more points because it’s further away from the basket, so theoretically harder to get in.

Field Goal:

Any shot that isn’t a free throw. Includes three pointers, layups and the rest.

Bank Shot:

A shot that hits the backboard before the rim/net.

Jump Shot / J:

When you knab a shot over the head while still in mid-air.


Okay these look sick. Generally the point guard (player who handles the ball the most), passes the ball up close to the basket (sometimes looks as if they are about to have a huge air ball) to another player who jumps up and generally dunks the ball into the net. Check it out here.

Free Throw Line:

If the other team fouls you, you get two shots (sometime three if you were in the midst of shooting a three pointer) uncontested. You think these are easy shots to take, but a player is generally under a lot of pressure, and sometimes don’t have much finesse to get the basket.


When one player completes 2 of the following: scores 10 or more points / has 10 or more rebounds / 10 or more assists / 10 or more steals OR 10 or more blocks. Most common is points, rebounds and assists.

Triple Double:

The above but one player completes THREE of the above. Simply RIDICulous.


A rebound is when a player shoots but misses off the rim or background, so the ball bounces back into play. The player who gets to count the rebound as a statistic is the one who gets the ball after it’s shot. Most of the time, the defensive team collects the rebound; however, an offensive rebound can occur as well. The shot clock resets when there’s an offensive rebound. This is similar to IRL when you give a guy a shot and date him for a bit, but then you break-up, you just sometimes needs a rebound to help you get over it.

Shot Clock:

In the NBA, once you inbound the basketball, you only have 24 seconds to shoot. The shot clock was implemented so that players don’t meander around to keep possession. It forces the game to be more exciting. 


You are dribbling the ball and switch quickly from one hand to the other and back to the OG hand to try to fake-out the defensive player.


A lot of the time, you need to make some room on the court so that your teammates can make a play. A pick/screen is when you block a player on defence from getting in the way of one of your teammates. You do this by planting your feet and standing your ground so that your teammate can run past you, effectively tossing the person covering them (their check) aside.

Pick and Roll:

Same as above but after you set your screen, you roll away and accept receive a pass. Tricky tricky!

Over and Back:

Occurs when a player crosses half court and and then goes back. Can’t do that.

Full Court Press:

Defence mechanism. The defensive team applies the pressure for the entire court before and after inbounding the ball. You’ll generally only see this happen in the pro leagues at the end of each half if a team is down b/c it’s terribly tiring.

(Wo)man to (Wo)man:

Another defence mechanism. You’ve got one check on the other team that you have to follow. Think stage 5 clinger.

Zone Defense:

Opposite defence strategy as man to man. The squad doesn’t have a person to follow but a zone on the court to defend.

Technical / Technical Foul / T:

Any foul that does not involve physical contact. The refs get super into this one and make an aggressive T out of their hands. This normally happens when a player/coach is getting too fired up and generally involves some sort of swearing.


The seats literally on the court where all of the biggest ballas get to watch the game from. Throwback to Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind “Sitting Courtside, Knicks and Nets give me high fives.”

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Why do teams foul so much in the last 2 minutes of a basketball game?

You’ve prolly noticed that in the last coupla minutes of a game, the team that’s losing (especially if they’re only losing by a few baskets) will start fouling the other team. The only reason they do this is to try to gain back possession. After foul shouts, the defending team is more likely to get the rebound as they have more players in the key (4 vs 3), and if the foul shot is made, then they get to inbound from their own baseline effectively gaining back possession. That means, they get the ball back for another chance at a scoring opportunity that wouldn’t have if the other team just ran down the clock passing to each other. That make sense?

What is the deal with time outs - are they strategic? Do you call a time-out when your team is down? Do you ever do it when your team is up? Do you always try to use all your time outs?

Time outs are v strategic and are normally called when:

1) your team can’t get their sh!t together and the coach needs to settle everyone down (e.g., opponent scores five straight buckets without your team responding).

2) there’s a major opportunity to tie the game, or pull ahead. The coach will normally call a timeout so that she/he can organize a play that will lead to a basket.

3) when your relationship is falling a little flat and, like Ross and Rachel, you need a bit of a break. 

GIF - Ross from TV show, Friends, screaming We were on a Break

Why is basketball so centred around the star players? Versus hockey or soccer that feel more like it’s focused on the whole team.

Okay. So. Because of basketball’s format (5 v. 5 for four 12-minute quarters), the fact that the court is relatively small, and there can be moments when you’re not moving at full-speed, there’s less of a need for substituting players. As a result, a lot of teams rely on their best players to play for the majority of the time. 

On the flip side, hockey’s format of 5 v. 5 for three 20-minute periods is a longer game, and on a larger ice rink. Hockey players go out on the ice in “sprints”. Their shifts are only one to two minutes in length and they are absolutely GIVIN’ ‘ER the entire time. There are at least four lines of forwards (3 players x 4 =12 players) and at least 3 lines of defensemen (2 players x 3 = 6 players) that are major keys to the team being successful. 18 players vs. 8 players is a big difference when you’re comparing hockey and basketball. In basketball, it’s much easier for a handful of players to take up most of the playing time, hence why there seems to be so much more focus on star players. 

What kind of build makes the different positions?

We’re gonna give this to you real quick. The taller you are, the closer to the basket you tend to play. Generally, the shorter you are, the more likely you end up being a point guard. The point guard is also generally the player who has the best hands in terms of dribbling as well as passing. 

Is grabbing a rebound or being a good rebounder essentially jumping highest to grab the ball? Does that mean it’s always the tallest players that get the rebounds?

Height and being able to jump high to get the ball is definitely helpful in getting rebounds, but it’s not everything. One of the most important things about rebounds is “boxing out” your opponent. Boxing out basically means you put your body between them, and the net. Generally this means you get your butt right back on them, and get your arms wide so that there’s no way they can get around you to get the rebound. A lot of offensive rebounds occur when the defensive team gets lazy and doesn’t properly box out. 

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The GIST’s Guide to The NBA Finals

The best show on the hardwood (apart from the jump-rope teams that performed at your middle-school assemblies), the NBA Finals, has finally arrived. Time to get fired up, ppl!



The NBA Finals are the culmination of 82 hard-fought regular season games and four best-of-seven playoff series. All of the blood, sweat and tears are for the chance to be the NBA Champions and to kiss the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy - a trophy that is named after a former NBA Commissioner. Cool trophy, yes, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Lord Stanley, does it? The final best-of-seven series starts on Thursday, May 31st at 9pm EST. Need to brush up on your basketball knowledge? We gotchu. Check out The GIST’s Guide to Basketball here.

PS: Since writing this article, the Golden State Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers to become the 2018 NBA Finals Champions.

Gimme the Dirt on the Teams Who are Playing

Alright. For the FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Some people’s reaction to this finals deja vu is “ugh, not againnnnn” BUT other people are like “wow, what a great rivalry”. If you’re like us and love to re-watch your fave Netflix show (it’s The Office in case you wondering) over and over again, you know that it gets better and better with every repeat.

So, how have these guys stacked up against each other in prior years?

- 2015 - Warriors win in six games

- 2016 - The Cavs took it in seven in summer ‘16 (playing dirty, not clean),

- 2017 - The Warriors won the title in five games

Also, you may hear some people calling the Warriors the “Dubs” because “Dubs” is the “cool” short-form way to say the word “W”, which is the first letter in “Warriors”. *rolls eyes*

The oddsmakers in Vegas are betting on the Warriors to take this one. Some experts are even saying that they will win it in five games, effectively giving up only one game to the Cavs. We should also mention that the Warriors had a better regular season record, and therefore, have home court advantage (meaning the first two games, game five and game seven will be played in Oakland) which is a major key.

Great, now Gimme the Skinny on the Players

Cleveland Cavaliers:

LeBron James: This guy may be better known as “The King”. Yes, he did give himself this nickname, and yes, it is a bit arrogant, but, when you’ve got numbers like this guy, we think it’s okay. Let us give you some stats (not the boring kind, we promise). LeBron has won 23 straight Eastern Conference playoff series on his way to his eighth straight appearance in the NBA finals. LeBron, without a doubt, has been the best player in these NBA playoffs. He’s had seven games where he’s scored over 40 points, he’s been Mr. clutch scoring two buzzer-beating game-winners, and in game seven against the Celtics HE PLAYED THE ENTIRE 48 MINUTE GAME! With these stats, many basketball insiders are saying that LeBron has literally put the team on his back and carried them throughout these playoffs, but, as the saying goes, there’s no “I” in “team” so keep reading below to learn more about the rest of the Cavs characters.

On top of all this, he’s a three-time MVP, and this year, his play has sparked the debate of who’s better, him or the iconic Michael Jordan. You can love him or hate him, but either way, LeBron is going down in the record books as a legend. One thing we’re over though? LeBron’s weirdly shaped rectangular/square beard. Like, LeBron can you please just shave that thing?!

J.R. Smith: Smith is LeBron’s right-hand manz in Cleveland. He’s got a bit of a fiery personality but is fun to watch because he just exudes passion for the game. J.R. also hits three-pointers like it’s nobody’s business, so keep an eye on this guy when he’s around the arc.

Kevin Love: K-Lo has also been a staple for the Cavs. He’s a big guy underneath the basket, but in game six of the Eastern Conference finals he suffered a pretty big concussion, so he’s replying to his calendar invite to the NBA finals as “TBD”, just like your flakey friend does to all of yours.

Ty Lue: This homie is the coach for the Cavs. It’s also important to note that he’s a prior two-time NBA Championship winning player. This year though, poor Lue has gotten a lotta flack, mostly because everyone is saying that this Cavs team is “Bron’s team” and that Lue wouldn’t be seeing as much success if it wasn’t for LeBron. WELL OBVIOUSLY YES, but that could also be said for any coach that Bron’s played for over the last eight years, so let’s back the heck off of Lue for a minute or two.

Oh, and how can we forget the cheating, lying SOB that is Tristan Thompson. Actually, though, he doesn’t even deserve to be written about.


Golden State Warriors:

Steph Curry: Is the leader of the Warriors and is widely regarded as the greatest shooter in NBA history. NBD. He’s led the Warriors to two NBA Championships (both won against the Cavs) and has won one MVP title. Although the Cavs have the highest payroll as a team, Steph Curry is the highest paid player in the NBA earning $34.7M for this season alone (yo Steph, wanna invest in The GIST?!). Also, on top of being an amazing balla, we have a serious crush on this cutie and his adorable family. Turns out, we’re not the only ones. His relationship with his teenage sweetheart, Ayesha Curry, (who also happens to be Canadian born in the #6ix!!!) is such #goals that even Cardi B gave them a shout-out in her hit song Be Careful.

Kevin Durant: This homie also goes by the short form KD which always leaves us craving the classic “I’m broke and a student” combo of Kraft Dinner and ketchup. KD is the other go-to guy on the Warriors squad. Although he is tall AF at 6’9”, this guy can still shoot the lights out. He’s won one NBA Championship with the Warriors and has also won an MVP title himself. Impressive. On top of all of that, KD is a lil’ bit drama and even has some of that dah-rama w/ our very own Drake.

Klay Thompson: Similar to Curry, Thompson is a SHOOTER! Back in 2015, he and Curry combined for an NBA record number of three-pointers that had the media nickname the pair the “Splash Brothers”. How “creative”.

Steve Kerr: We really wanted to chat about Coach Kerr b/c outside of him being a gifted basketball coach, Kerr is an all-around good person. Need an example? Read how he defends his athletes from the wrath that is Donald Trump here, watch as he calls out the NFL for their idiotic new rule to deter the #TakeAKnee movement and check out his Twitter page where the majority of his tweets are about stopping gun violence in the US. We LY, Steve!

Can we expect to see any Celebs?

TBH we only added in this section so that we could talk about Beyonce. Can you really blame us, though? Bey and Jay were already at a playoff game to watch the Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans at the end of April. We think they’re Warriors fans, but they also have a house in NOLA, so not too sure if we’ll be seeing them this series. Other celebs you might see catching the game courtside are Jessica Alba, Usher, or maybe Big Sean.

Trivia Time!

Be the go-to gal at the trivia table this week by knowing these facts:

  • The Boston Celtics, who the Cavs beat in the Eastern Conference finals, have won the most NBA Championships at 17. The LA Lakers are a close second at 16.
  • Speaking of Boston, prior Celtics player, Bill Russell holds the record for the most NBA Champions, winning 11 titles within his 13-year career. Not too shabby!
  • Finally, this fact doesn’t really have anything to do with the finals, but we think it’s fun! When the game was first invented by Canadian James Naismith (proud Canadian moment!) the game was actually played with soccer balls instead of basketballs and instead of players shooting into baskets, they shot them into wooden peach baskets. Nowadays, the only peaches we see on the courts are the players’ fiiiooonneee AF bootays. #arewerightladies

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The GIST’s Guide to March Madness

No. Unfortunately, as much as you want it to be, March Madness is NOT a sale at Nordstrom. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 



March Madness is an annual NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball tournament. Don’t remember this tournament taking place while you were in your undergrad? Well, that’s b/c it didn’t. This tournament is only between schools in the US of A with this year’s tourney taking place from March 13th to April 2nd in 14 different cities. Ok. So. Why do you gotta know about March Madness? The answer, quite simply, is that people go truly buck wild for it. Whether it’s due to the thrill of cheering for your alma mater, beating your colleague in your office pool, or b/c you love a classic Cinderella story (and no we’re not talking about Chad & Hil’s fire of a classic), people love March Madness so much that sometimes it can even bring them to tears

How Teams are Selected

The US is a big country with a whole lot of colleges, so there’s a bit of process for choosing which teams will participate in March Madness. This is called “Selection Sunday”. For wtv reason this name somewhat gives us the dystopian creeps. Anyway. Teams earn a bid to the tournament if they: 1) win the postseason conference in their division (PS there are 32 divisions in college basketball) or 2) get chosen by the selection committee based on their “pedigree” to earn an invitation to a tournament. Why the selection committee doesn’t just use the Hogwarts sorting hat to figure all this out, we dunno.

How It’s Organized

March Madness is a bracket style tournament starting with 68 teams. You may be thinking, “what TF is a bracket?” In this instance, it’s not the bracket on your keyboard or the one you (occasionally) use in math. A bracket represents two teams playing each other with the winning team moving on. No second chances, so you’ve got to bring your A-game. To give a bracket some context, think back (fondly or not) to every beer pong tournament you took part in in university - similar rules apply. You only continue playing if you win. If you’re more of a visual learner, click here.

Initial brackets are set up by “seeds”. Seeds are the committee rankings where they basically put a number on who is the best (1) and who is the worst (68). These seed rankings are based on how the team has performed throughout the year. The seed list is used to create a balance of the top teams throughout the brackets, as the thought is that they’re the teams who are most likely to make it further into the tournament. We know this is confusing, but stay with us. If you’re feeling it, click here for more details.

After the initial round of four, it goes from 64 teams and dwindles down. The part of the tournament you’ll probably want to pay attention to will most likely be the “Sweet Sixteen” (no, not a 16th birthday party), the “Elite Eight”, the “Final Four”, and the Championship Game.

You’ve prolly heard the bros at the office talk about “their bracket”. This is one reason why fans gets so amped on March Madness. What they’ve done is predicted who’s gonna win each game of the tournament to try to predict who’s gonna win all the marbles overall. A lot of the times, there is money put down as well. Although, given the unpredictability of the tournament, it’s practically impossible to create a perfect bracket (aka choosing all of the correct winners). So much so, that the third-richest man in the world, Warren Buffet, has pledged to give away 1M big ones to any of his employees that have a perfect bracket . This guy doesn’t throw around his cash, so you know having a perfect bracket is literally next to impossible. We suggest putting this hard earned cash into a well-diversified portfolio in your TFSA instead. Still wanna give a go at making your own? Check out this interactive bracket! 

The Best of the Best

The 2017 March Madness winners were North Carolina. Last year’s win marked their 6th national championship. They beat Gonzaga in the final 77-73.

This year, the projected number one seeds are Virginia, Villanova, Xavier and Kansas. Still, Virginia is supposed to be THE team to watch, they’re pretty much the only team who has supposedly claimed a numero uno seed spot and kept it. They finished their regular season with 29 wins and only 2 loses. We’ll see if they have any performance anxiety when it comes time to drive to the basket.

A little different than other major tournaments, it’s hard to focus on specific players because of how the game is played. Since there’s an insane amount of teams with their own strategies, the game is more about a team play (think back to elementary basketball with a 3 passes before you can shoot kinda thing), rather than individual players coming forward and stealing the spotlight like we see in the NBA.

Still, there are many, many current NBA players who played in March Madness in their day. Players who won NCAA championships include stars Carmelo Anthony, unibrow kid Anthony Davis, NBA MVP Steph Curry and Blake Griffin just to name a few. The list is long.

One name you gotta know isn’t actually a player, it’s a coach. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, or Coach K, is the Duke Blue Devils Head Coach, who is a youthful 71 y/o. In his 38th season at Duke, Coach K leads all head coaches with the most NCAA wins ever at 1,091. He’s also  coached the USA team to three Olympic gold medals, and has been inducted into both the College Basketball and US Olympic Hall of Fame. Snaps for Coach K.

PS: Since we wrote this, the 2018 March Madness Champions were Villanova.

Bring. On. The. DRAMA!!!

Lately, NCAA men’s basketball has had more drama than this past season of the Bachelor. And that’s saying A LOT considering the Bachelor, Arie Luyendyk Jr., dumped his fiancé on live TV and then asked his runner-up to date him. So shocking, we literally. can’t. even. Back to basketball. What’s the drama?

First, college athletes don’t make any money for playing for their school. That said, players do get full-ride scholarships, exposure to NBA scouts, and the fame of being an on-campus star. However, given the copious amount of dollars that schools make off of these athletes, some players were starting to feel like scholarships just weren’t enough, and even thought about striking. Yikes.  

This season, there’s also been some shady business going down among athletes, schools, coaches and apparel giant Adidas. There has been an apparent bribery scheme, where an Adidas exec, in cahoots with coaches, encouraged students to play for certain schools with the promise that their families would receive $100,000 and they would be signed with the brand if the player went pro. That’s a big no-no. So much so that it has led to a full-fledged FBI investigation looking into charges at various schools. Intense.

Lady Ballas

Who run the world? GIRLS. From March 16th - April 1st, women’s basketball also has its March Madness tournament. The tournament will run the exact same way as we outlined above for the men’s, but instead of Selection Sunday, teams are revealed on Monday. So much for ladies first.

Last year’s winner was South Carolina, and they’re expected to do pretty well again. Other teams to look out for are Louisville, Connecticut, and Baylor. Here are some lady ballas you gotta keep an eye out for:

A’ja Wilson: she is a 6ft 5in (!!!) senior (aka 4th year) who was the Final Four’s most outstanding player last year. She’ll be wanting to repeat. She plays for South Carolina.

Kelsey Mitchell: Mitchell plays for Ohio State and is debatably the most aggressive offensive player in the entire NCAA.

Gabby Williams: This chick is 5 ft 11in (again, !!!) and is a coaches dream filling the stats sheet both with steals and blocks. Homegirl is a starter for University of Connecticut (U’Conn).

Kia Nurse: Our Canadian basketball KWEEN! We can’t have a list without Kia. She’s arguably the best in all of Canada right now, and is the point guard for U’Conn. Between her and her teammate Gabby, U’Conn is a force to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, as with the majority of sports, the women’s March Madness tournament is largely overshadowed by the men’s, with the men taking the majority, if not all, of the live air-time. The best way to watch our ladies is most likely going to be streaming on Facebook.

PS: Since we wrote this the 2018 March Madness Champions were Notre Dame. 

Getcha Head in the Game

Finally, you gotta know some stats/fun trivia facts for March Madness. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. No bottom seed has ever unseated a top seed in the first round. This means that, while we all want to root for the underdog, the teams ranked at the top are there for a reason!
  2. The phrase “March Madness” was first used with the NCAA in 1982 when sportscaster Brent Musburger used the phrase while talking about the tournament. The phrase became the center of a 1996 legal battle with the Illinois High School Boys Basketball Championship, which had used it in 1939. The result? A “dual use trade mark”. We told you the NCAA was full of drama.
  3. The tournament has been held for almost 80 years, BUT only 35 schools have ever won the top prize - you do the math.
  4. Unlucky #5. No #5 seeded team has ever won a championship.

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