Fourteen years ago today, the pencil-pushers of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch challenged the blue-collar men and women of the warehouse to a game of pick-up basketball. The result of the game is still in dispute, as things ended prematurely following a stoppage in play by Regional Manager Michael Scott. However, that’s not the only controversy surrounding the famous game.
The worse crime? The warehouse team absolutely choked this one away.
True, on paper, the warehouse team won. After Scott’s declaration of a “flagrant personal intentional foul,” it was ruled by the Regional Manager that the team who was ahead at the time would win. That team was the office workers. However, after a tense discussion between Scott and the warehouse team, the decision was reversed and the warehouse was declared the winners.
Still, the result should never have been in question.
14 years ago, we witnessed one of the greatest basketball games EVER 🏀 pic.twitter.com/LwShPfEZwp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 19, 2019
Let’s start with roster decisions. The office team is a disaster of lineup construction. Their starting five of Michael, Jim, Dwight, Ryan and Stanley is a recipe for terrible floor spacing and weak spot-up shooting. Halpert is a strong primary ball-handler and Dwight is actually a decent passer from the elbow, but Ryan is streaky at best from the perimeter and a liability at the other end of the floor. Michael and Stanley, meanwhile, are little more than stagnant paint-cloggers. They don’t make good shot decisions, regularly turn it over, and lack the lateral speed on defense to stay in front of pretty much anybody.
Meanwhile, the warehouse starting five creates all kinds of mismatches. Roy is a decent defensive foil to Halpert even if he gambles a little too much on steals, and on the offensive end, he has the size advantage to absolutely work Jim in the post, despite the latter’s tenacity.
The other warehouse starters are much more versatile than their upstairs counterparts. Madge is a defensive stanchion, and while Jerry doesn’t add much on offense, he makes smart decisions with the ball and limits his turnovers to a minimum. The two straws that stir this milkshake, however, are Darryl Philbin and Lonny Collins, two floor-spacing bigs who can guard all five positions, stroke it from beyond the arc and gobble boards down low.
How could the warehouse blow this? How could they even be in a position to be down late against the office? True, the upstairs bench was stronger than the warehouse’s subs, with Oscar bringing reliable defense and Phyllis’ decent mid-range stroke, but among players seeing maximum minutes, the warehouse’s combination of size, floor spacing and physical defense should have had the upstairs team on their heels.
The one saving grace for the office? Jim Halpert’s James Harden impersonation. Roy is a strong defender, but fatigue from Jim’s feisty defense forced him into some regrettable mistakes in isolation sets, and that’s where Jim’s ball-handling absolutely cooked him. When Roy sat back to anticipate the drive, Jim found his outside shot. Credit, too, to Halpert’s toughness. He took a shot to the chin from Roy early in the game, but still played big minutes.
Despite the other team’s superstar going off, however, the warehouse should have overwhelmed the office squad on rebounds and second-chance points, a huge indicator of success in pick-up games where shooting can be fickle. Sure, the warehouse might have technically won, but the box score says they lost, and with this much talent, you can only call that a massive disappointment.