February 11 is the United States’ National Inventor’s day. It’s a date to celebrate and salute the brilliance of all the great visionaries whose influences have literally shaped the world as we know it.
The NBA doesn’t have its Inventor’s day. But with how many great individuals steered the world’s greatest basketball league into becoming what it is today, maybe it should have one. Perhaps we owe it to guys like Dr. James Naismith, the late great David Stern, Dr.J, Magic, Bird, MJ, or any other all-time great NBA player, for that matter. They sure deserve it.
If the idea of honoring the basketball’s greats on a certain date does come to life, I’m pledging for one of the NBA’s most underrated originators to receive the credit he deserves. I’m talking about Joe Fulks – an unofficial inventor of trash-talking – an indispensable part of the NBA as we know it.
Now we don’t know for a fact that it originates from Jumpin’ Joe, but he’s the one whose name is mentioned in the earliest instances of the smack-talking game. If this is, in fact, the starting point of the induction of wars of words into the game of basketball, it all dates to March 27. 1948 and the matchup between the St. Louis Bombers and the Philadelphia Warriors.
The art of talking smack started with a 6-5 power forward yelling “set shot” after launching two-handers during a cold shooting night (12-for-37). Today, it’s “simply part of the game.” It isn’t as tolerated as it once was, nor is it as common as before. But it’s still here, and it’ll forever be an indispensable part of the NBA.
So if the league is to set the date to honor its most influential individuals, Joe Fulks’ name should be on the list. He is and forever will be the NBA’s Mr. Trash Talk.