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Crackin', Jackin', Woofin' and Smackin'
Phil Taylor
November 23, 1992
Whatever you want to call it, trash talkin' is a bigger part of the game than ever—and not everybody is happy about it
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November 23, 1992

Crackin', Jackin', Woofin' And Smackin'

Whatever you want to call it, trash talkin' is a bigger part of the game than ever—and not everybody is happy about it

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You wanna talk about what? Trash talk? Listen, sit your raggedy, behind-the-times, magazine-readin' butt down and let me school you on one thing: If we're gonna hang out, you need to know that "trash talk" is not a phrase that's used out on the cuttin' edge. If you wanna talk trash, call up 1-900-HOT-STUF, and get outta my face.

These days college hoops players aren't talk-in' trash, though just about all of them are makin' a lot of noise. They're talkin' yang, talkin' smack or talkin' head. They're doggin', clownin', hoorayin', bustin', mouthin', shoutin', crackin', jackin' or poppin'. They're—stop me if I'm going too fast for you now, Poindexter—they're droppin' a line or gettin' a case of yap-yap. They're mind——-', they're steppin' on...well, I don't know how to describe what they're steppin' on without gettin' a warning sticker slapped on the cover of this magazine. Let's just say that if a guy busts on you too much, you have to put him in his place. But I'm warnin' you up front, smack talk can get pretty rough. Ice-T would have trouble bringin' himself to say some of this stuff.

The game today has a cruder, cruder, funnier, funkier, down-and-dirtier sound track than it used to, and you better be ready for it, because as Louisville forward Greg Minor says, "they'll talk about your mama, your girlfriend, your haircut, your 'hood."

Even coaches will admit that everybody has got the yap-yap, and coaches know next to nothing about talkin' smack. "It's like runaway inflation," says New Mexico coach Dave Bliss. "There used to be isolated instances of it, but now everyone's talking. There are players who actually practice it, who work at being good at it. There are some real trash-talk experts."

Some of the fellas call talkin' smack the poetry of the playground, and the taunts and boasts and insults that players exchange but the fans hardly ever hear have gotten more lyrical. "In your face"? That's what used to pass for smack. It's too mainstream now. You know a line is history when ESPN uses it for a slogan, all right? Today you'll more likely hear "Elevator's goin' to nine on this one, baby. I'll be droppin' your ass oil' on six." Or after a dunk, a player will come down and just yell, "Flight school!" in his defender's face. After they dunk on their man. some guys—New Mexico's Khari Jaxon, for one—like to yell, "I flushed on you!"

"Trash talking is an integral part of the game," says former Marquette star George Thompson, who is now a radio analyst for his old team. "A well-executed play isn't finished until you recap it for your opponent in front of his face. Some players carry it to an extreme, but some well-placed trash can go a long way. Talking trash is definitely an art form."

To hear some folks tell it. talkin' smack is a new development, but, truth is, woofin' has been with us ever since Dr. Naismith nailed up the peach basket, stuck one of those two-handed set shots in somebody's mug and said, "Oooh, it hurts to be this good." O.K., maybe that never happened, but trash, in one form or another, has been around for ages. "I played against some Kentucky teams under Adolph Rupp, and they were good at staring," Thompson says. "They weren't much into talking, but they would give you that cocky look after they made a good play. So I guess you can mime talking trash."

One of the unwritten rules of talkin' noise is that what's said on the court stays within the fraternity of players. Most players would sooner take the SATs again than reveal the exact nature of the smack that went back and forth during a game. But I did some nosin' around, and if you promise you won't let anyone know where you heard it, I'll tell you about...

Sexual Harassment

Or, "Your mama came over last night and...." Take it easy. I wasn't talkin' about your mama. I was just giving you an example of the kind of hold-nothing-back mouthin' that goes on nowadays. Told you it wasn't all innocent fun. Guys who played against Arkansas's Todd Day say he used to drop lines like "I'm gonna take you to the hoop, then I'm takin' your mom." Pleasant stuff like that.

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