Word on the Street

Butcher Shop (booch’-uhr shahp) noun. The area directly under and around the basket, where flying elbows, hard fouls, and battles for rebounds result in a variety of (often bloody) facial injuries.

Usage example:Karl Malone may have been called “The Mailman,” but he spent a lot of time tenderizing opposing players’ faces in the butcher shop.

Word history: From the mid-1950s and into early 1960s, the NBA enjoyed a major scoring explosion. This was due both to the advent of the shot clock and the arrival of bigger, faster, more talented basketball players such as Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and Jerry West. However, NBA fans and analysts – many of whom were also hockey fans – felt that the excessive scoring and lack of defense were ruining the game. To offset this “new offense,” which featured a myriad of low post moves and drives through the lane, NBA coaches began instructing players to swing their arms and elbows with reckless abandon. Or, as Red Auerbach put it, “Give guys a good pop in the face.” The fans seemed to really enjoy the violence, especially when it was perpetrated against the road team. In fact, it was widely believed that many fans started attending games specifically to watch such mayhem. Thus, influenced by the crowd, referees turned a blind eye to the wanton facial destruction going on all around them.

Since this brutality often resulted in an increase in ticket sales, the cash-strapped owners quietly endorsed it. And, since it also provided a “competitive advantage,” the coaches more than endorsed it, they orchestrated it. Each team employed one or two “enforcers,” the likes of which included Jungle Jim” Loscutoff, Clyde Lovellette, and Willie Naulls. In fact, Lovellette once elbowed Chamberlain so hard in the chin, that Wilt lost four teeth, developed blood poisoning from the ensuing infection, ended up in the hospital, and eventually required surgery. Wilt got so tired of the constant beatings, he threatened to retired three different times, and the same analysts who once complained about the overwhelming offenses were now complaining about the now dangerous defenses, and therefore began to refer to the area under the basket – where most of the damage was being done – as the butcher shop.

This season, a whole series of players have been bloodied or otherwise injured in trips through the butcher shop. Kobe Bryant and Zydrunas Ilgauskas both required stitches, Kirk Hinrich got knocked out, and Luol Deng lost a tooth. So while things may not be as bad as the old days, the butcher shop is still open for business.

Excuse me, but was that your face I just exploded?

—————————–

Labels: Karl Malone (The Mailman) / Elgin Baylor / Wilt Chamberlain / Oscar Robertson / Jerry West / Jim Loscutoff (Jungle Jim) / Clyde Lovellette / Willie Naulls / Kobe Bryant / Zydrunas Ilgauskas / Kirk Hinrich / Luol DengRed Auerbach / NBAWord on the Street

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: