In the past, pop megastar Justin Bieber has claimed to be pretty good at basketball, attracting adulation from hoops neophytes, but also attracting the skepticism and ire of informed hoops consumers like Deadspin’s Tom Ley.
Today, for reasons I couldn’t possibly be convinced to care enough about to look into, Bieber has decided that his ostensible basketball skills are not being sufficiently respected, and he has posted an Instagram video as “proof” — imagine me doing exaggerated air quotes with my hands for 45 seconds — of his jump-shooting abilities:
Something immediately stands out to a savvy viewer like, well, Ley:
I am left wondering one thing: Why are there so many cuts in that video, my friend?
Ley is being too coy by half here. For anyone who knows anything about basketball, this video is an astoundingly transparent attempt to manufacture the illusion of competent three-point shooting where there may well be none.
What people who don’t play basketball might not realize is that it is not hard, even at the sub-amateur level, to hit a three-point shot once in a while. I can vouch for this as a frequent pick-up baller who is abysmal at three-point shooting (as well as several other components of the game). Anyone who plays basketball consistently can knock down a trey or two. The mark of a great three-point shooter is consistency — the ability to string together make after make, or at least maintain an impressive overall percentage. That’s why everyone freaked out when shooting Über-virtuoso Stephen Curry reportedly hit 77 threes in a row (and 94 out of 100) during a practice last year.
The absence of consecutive shots Bieber makes in the video is an alarm screaming like one of his hysterical tween fans. Watch the video. Beebs has a rebounder corralling every one one of his shots, meaning he was able to get up a lot of attempts in a short period (as opposed to when you are chasing down your own rebounds). It would be the easiest thing in the world for the pop star to have posted video of him making two, three, four three-point shooters in a row — something any decent pick-up three-point shooter (not me) can do fairly regularly.
The video features 14 made three-pointers. But out of how many? If the answer is 28, that’s a pretty impressive percentage for an amateur player in an empty gym. If the answer is 50, then Bieber is, like me, a terrible three-point shooter. Where’s the raw footage? Where’s the proof? How are we supposed to know what to believe?
That lame little through-the-legs layup at the end is pretty weak sauce, too.