DimeBag: The Weekly Dime Mailbag, Volume V

HOW TO SUBMIT: E-mail dimebag@dimemag.com with your question/story/idea and include your name and hometown.

Another week, another DimeBag. This week’s random musings range from pretzel swords to Jon Diebler. Enjoy, kind folk.

Melissa, North Potomac, MD:

What is your opinion on basketball players and the psychological concept of ‘flow?’ Do you think that when the players are in the right mindset and focused on a specific goal, they will be more likely to play flawlessly? On the other hand, if a player is thinking too much about his movements, can this be detrimental to his performance?

Everyone’s been in a groove before. You hit one shot, two shots, then three. Maybe a fourth and a fifth. And then, after summoning the gods and conjuring your best Kobe impression, you throw up an airball as reality smacks you in the face.

Plenty of people preach, “Don’t think, just play.” Do that to a degree, I think. There’s some validity to worrying less – but frankly that’s a lot easier said than done. Don’t think about elephants. What are you doing right now? Inwardly screaming at yourself to stop thinking about elephants. But what’s happening? You’re imagining a stampede of elephants trampling your computer, or maybe you’re the traveling type and have subconsciously transported to an African safari. The point is that my one sentence about elephants is officially tattooed to your brain. Try to not think about them. I dare you.

So to answer your question, I actually think focusing on a specific goal is highly detrimental. But just letting it fly and playing freely is when you approach Ricky Davis territory. Sure, it may be effective in the short-term, but if you’re ever trying to alienate your teammates, do it. Or you could just go Latrell Sprewell and choke your coach. That’ll do the trick.

In terms of flow, I think that’s something else entirely, something that’s interwoven with teammates and their egos. If you’re in the flow of the game, you know that if Chauncey Billups doesn’t get to take a few ill-advised threes, he’ll punish you with seven more. Or that sometimes you’ll just have to let Kobe “instruct” you right after he missed a fadeaway three. If you can do these things, you’ll get the ball in your spots, where you excel. Or you could just be like me and play with unskilled, slightly fat, my-gear-is-not-representative-of-my-abilities gym regulars and consider 23% from the field a good day at the office.

George, Auburn, AL:

Do rappers make better ballers than ballers make better rappers?

When I read this question, I immediately googled “rappers + basketball players” and yielded an ungodly number of random no-name guys with supposed basketball and rap careers. Then I thought, let’s analyze all the guys who’ve gone from basketball to rapping or vice versa. Then I realized that there were too many examples, so that wasn’t a viable option. In the end, this is how I chose to attack the question:

Who’s better: The average basketball player or the average rapper?

And the answer is easy. It’s the baller, without a doubt. The reason why? Basketball careers last way longer. Everyone from middle school beginners to guys in their 40s hit the gym to work on their game. We’re all blinded by the delusion that the ability to finish left (consistently – stop pretending that you can. I know a liar when I see one.) will lead to something greater, some sort of life-altering satisfaction. It won’t. But I still do it. Our combined dementia, though, does augment the average basketball skill because we practice, constantly.

Rappers, meanwhile, don’t carry on that long. If they haven’t hit it big, or relatively big, or relatively medium by 30, they give up. You get kids, a real job and responsibilities. Although it may be a career for some, basketball has an alternate dimension – it can be an on-the-side fling. Except it’s the greatest fling of all time, because it keeps you in better shape and your wife is probably cool with it. So rappers who transition to basketball have always had basketball in their lives – it just wasn’t the centerpiece. Basketball players, meanwhile, have less transition time. You can’t start rapping when you’re 35. That violates some sort of social policy, I’d like to believe. Maybe you were rapping a bit while balling, but you weren’t making a conscious effort to get better.

Thus, rappers make better basketball players because they were probably playing their entire lives anyway. Or maybe it’s the other way around. I don’t know.

Alexander, Topeka:

How many more shapes can a pretzel take?

I was at the Giants game against the Rams on Monday Night Football. Being a Giants fan, I was pretty pleased with the result. But as a pretzel fanatic, I was pissed. It was the end of the first quarter and I was pretty hungry but I didn’t want to miss any action. Luckily the pretzel guy walked right by and I waved him down. So I paid the $6.50 and received my doughy/salty delight.

Before we delve into the shape, a moment on the price. I know stadium prices are out of control, but that 50 cents is pretty conniving. The guy asked me if I wanted the change because he knew I didn’t. Change sucks. It floats around in your pocket and flies out when you grab your wallet, and then you’re pissed that you lost money. I wish it were socially acceptable to have change pockets in men’s wallets. This is reason No. 457 why societal convention sucks.

Okay, back to the pretzel shapes. I thought I had it seen it all – both in soft and hard pretzels. (Is it just me, or did this just get weirdly sexual? Elephants. GOTCHYA.) Then I got this one, and it had the classic twist but was shaped like a hot dog. It actually made it easy to eat, because I could easily rip off pieces without droves of salt destroying the sanctity of my lap.

Quick pretzel related side-story. I grew up in New York City, where pretzels are literally on every corner. Once upon a time, when the 2000s hadn’t flushed the economy down the toilet yet, pretzels were $1.25. I was sitting in the backseat of the family car as my mom drove me home from somewhere I can’t remember. Being the obnoxious, didn’t-care-that-we-were-in-a-car child that I was, I demanded a pretzel. After initially saying no, my mom pulled up to a red light where a pretzel/hot dog cart was parked on the corner. My mom waved the guy over, ordered a pretzel and gave it me. Looking back, that was a pretty boss move. But it gets better. The guy said, “$2.00 please.” My mom was outraged, handed him a dollar bill, and drove away. The greatest pretzel stand hit and run of all time.

Anyway, here are a few more pretzel shape ideas I have.

1. The pizza pretzel – You know how you can order a personal pizza at some pizza places? You should be able to order a pizza pretzel, which is just a circular pretzel shaped like a pizza.

2. The sword pretzel – I want a seriously sharp edge. You’d start eating from the handle and work your way towards the tip of the blade. Even better, you’d go through the stages of sharp objects: Sword, knife, dagger, shiv, box cutter. Pretty sweet. Plus, if anyone tries to ask for a bite or a rip (I hate that, by the way. Get your own food. And no, I never ask for a bite. Then I’d be a raging hypocrite.), you can ward them off with your sword/knife/dagger/shiv/box cutter.

3. Stuffed-crust pretzel – Okay, so this isn’t a shape, but I want it. It’d be a pretzel in any shape, except the salt would be baked into the dough so you wouldn’t see the salt grains anywhere. If pizzas can hide cheese, pretzels can hide salt. Think about how happy you’d be if you ate a piece of bread, then tasted salt and realized you had a pretzel instead. Pretty damn excited is right. Even more, you wouldn’t have to wipe the extra salt off or worry about it getting all over you.

Jonathan, St. Louis, MO:

You’re building a team to win a championship. This season. Money is no object. There’s no salary cap, no mid-level exception, nothing. You already have your starting five, sixth man, and even a few grizzled vets that are more than ready to use their allotted six fouls. If you could sign any incoming rookie for that run, who would it be and why?

Jon Diebler, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, he won’t complain about playing time. No white three-point shooter with limited skill and defensive capability complains about playing time. Just being on the roster is good enough. Secondly, he’ll whip that sweat towel and chest bump everyone from the bench with pride. He’ll need to be in the good graces of those stars if he wants to make the team again next year, so he’ll be the No. 1 cheerleader. Hopefully he’ll also pull the “I’m going to look in on the huddle as if this applies to me.” Thirdly, he’ll limit suicides in practice. If he gets chosen to take the free throw or suicide shot, he’ll nail it more often than not. Lastly, he’ll work hard in practice. He’ll force the stars to buckle down and take every day seriously. It may resemble Peja Stojakovic being abused, kicked and spat on by every Miami player, but Diebler will be annoying at the least.

That’s all for this week. Check back next Wednesday for Volume VI.

HOW TO SUBMIT: E-mail dimebag@dimemag.com with your question/story/idea and include your name and hometown. If you really insist on being a sketchy anonymous Internet weirdo, I guess I can’t stop you. So at least provide some sort of name and location.

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