Brian Tan | Now Serving
The art of trash talking
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
The greats all had this ability in common: Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Reggie Miller. It is a self−learned skill and talent, and few can truly succeed in making it work. The art of trash talking is born out of supreme confidence and competitiveness, but the execution of where and when is key. It starts at a young age, from when kids play with their friends and take shots at each other. It begins with playful chatter and progresses to aggressive challenges — from a simple “You can’t go left on me” to Muhammad Ali’s “I am the greatest.”
Trash talk extends on and off the field. Former NFL defensive back Deion Sanders, one of the great on−field trash talkers, would jaw at receivers he was guarding throughout games, and then eventually pick off a pass and take it back for a touchdown. Former Pacers guard Reggie Miller once made a choking sign to Knicks fans and players, by putting his hands around his neck, to rub in the fact that the Knicks blew a late playoff game lead against Indiana. Off the field, trash talking is just as common. After Kobe Bryant won his fifth NBA ring, he visited President Obama in the White House with his teammates. The President, a Chicago Bulls fan, warned Kobe, “Derrick Rose may have your number.” Kobe responded, “If he has my number and he calls it, I’ll be sure to pick up after the fifth ring.” Trash talking is the only place where everyone is on level playing fields. It’s a skill developed from natural talent.
Trash talking is also performed frequently in daily situations. During an intense game of FIFA, it would be trash talking if one were to yell, “I put the team on my back!” after a goal. It is also acceptable trash talk in Madden games to obnoxiously yell something similar if you hit the living daylights out of an opposing player or juke the socks off an oncoming defender.
Michael Jordan once welcomed a rookie Dikembe Mutombo into the league by saying, “Hey, Mutombo, this one’s for you, baby,” and then sank a free throw with his eyes closed. Keep in mind though, you better be able to back up your bold claims, or risk looking like a fool. For trash talking beginners, to be safe, you can commence the talk after the victory, to ensure that your trash talking doesn’t backfire.
Trash talking is an art. It involves either talking yourself up to an opponent or putting them down during a competitive situation. The goal is to get into the other person’s head, and affect his level of play by causing him to lose focus. Talking smack can be a self−motivator at low times. If you talk yourself up, you gain confidence and start believing you are good enough for the job. Not only is trash talking humorous, but it can also boost your own self−belief and help your chances of winning — if done at the right time to the right person.
But if done wrong, trash talking can end up motivating the opposition. With two minutes left in a Grizzlies−Bulls game, the Bulls were down eight and Michael Jordan was sitting on the bench, done for the game. Grizzlies player Darrick Martin walked up to Jordan and said, “I told you we were going to beat your butts tonight.” Jordan tied his shoelaces back up, got on the court, looked Martin in the eye and told him, “Little man, I told you about talking trash to me.” Jordan then decided to score the next nine points and the Bulls won the game.
Moral of the story: Be careful of what you say and beware who you say it to.
Brian Tan is a sophomore who is majoring in economics and Chinese. He can be reached at Brian.Tan@tufts.edu.