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The inspirational story of one NBA player’s battle against teamwork and passing

Learn how to practice self-care from the NBA’s best

photo credit: this great YouTube account

I keep breaking my promise to myself and logging back into Twitter, basically reordering food from that same restaurant that gives you food poisoning but hoping that this time, you’ll at least get a funny meme out of it. While navigating the minefields of bloodlusting warhawks and the dystopian nightmare of present American discourse, I saw an NBA stat that made me laugh and question the whole point of basketball as a team game.

I love this vibe. Why waste energy when there’s buckets to get and players to ignore?

Bojan Bogdanovic might politely define himself as an NBA journeyman, playing for four teams in his first six years. For his career, Bogdanovic averages 13.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists; more often than not, he’s productive in multiple categories. Yet, in one fateful night in New Orleans, he looked at his teammates, remembered Tyler Perry, and decided he could do bad all by himself. Bojan not only failed to set up their teammates for a score, he couldn’t be bothered to pick up a rebound, defend a shot, or steal the ball.

Bogdanovic posted a 25/0/0/0/0 statline two years ago for the Indiana Pacers, but he is not alone.

Since 1983, there have been 38 games where a player has scored over 20 points without failing to register a single supporting stat, per Basketball Reference. Bogdanovic joins Byron Scott, Kiki Vandeweghe, Richard Hamilton, and Ricky Pierce as the only players to post two of these gems.

Yet, the NBA leader in solipsistic scoring is the little known (at least to this writer) Terry Teagle, proud creator of three such games.

Terry Teagle played eleven years in the league from 1982 to 1993 as a rotation shooting guard for the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Lakers. He ended his career averaging over 11 points per game but less than five combined assists, blocks, steals, and rebounds. Teagle scored without a single other stat thirty times in his career, with three of those games producing more than twenty points. He also played in 214 games where he didn’t record a single assist, roughly 31% of his entire career.

From here on, we’ll refer to that 20/0/0/0/0 threshold as a Teagle.

These selfish brilliances reject the very premise of basketball as a team sport; players waving goodbye to their poor colleagues and making the night a celebration of themselves alone. A hyper-localized selfishness turns basketball players into lazy soccer strikers, poached at the goal and shooting with every touch.

What other games best quantify the spirit of a Teagle?

-Carmelo Anthony never hit the 20+/0/0/0/0 threshold, but he did in spirit. He scored 64 points in a game against Charlotte with 13 rebounds, no assists, no blocks, and no steals. I only imagine the rebounds were there to cut out the middleman and make sure he had the ball at all times.

-Kobe Bryant flirted with Teagles but never reached that plateau. My favorite version came in 2005, where he dropped 63 points, 8 boards, and 3 steals in third quarters against the Mavericks but did not record a single assist or block. Given his teammates at the time, I’m not sure what we expected.

He also dropped 43/3/0/0/0 on the Celtics in 2011 and 28/2/0/0/0 on the Rockets in 2012. I’m not sure late-career Kobe enjoyed passing all that much.

-Allan Houston has the record for the most prolific Teagle, dropping 37 points on the Timberwolves in 2000 without a single supporting stat.

-Chris Bosh put up a 42/13/0/0/0 box score on the Suns in a 2007 game that saw the big man attempt 24 free throws but fail to set up a single Raptor for a score.

-Michael Redd came off the bench for Milwaukee to drop a tidy 29 point Teagle in less than twenty minutes. Clock in, shoot every time you get the ball, and clock out. It’s a honest day.

-My favorite near-Teagle, though? In 2018, Tony Snell played 21:30 and scored 18 points without any other stats. He did this work without missing a single shot or free throw. I like to imagine this game as a haunted Monkey’s Paw scenario where Snell wished for the power to score, but could no longer do anything else meaningful on the court.

As star players racket up triple doubles and rewrite benchmarks for statistical greatness, these Teagle games highlight the potential for absurdity and chaos that only the NBA can provide. Five giant men with otherworldly athleticism and fitness fly around a court and collide for 48 minutes, and while sometimes they help each other and empower their teams, other times they just live their best life.

Let somebody else box out or pass or try defense for a change. In 2020, you deserve to just be your best self. Make Terry proud.