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Gunplay

1/6/2010

According to one NBA player, 60 to 75 percent of NBA players have firearms. Given that, the league has been fortunate to have as few gun-related incidents as it has.

That’s especially true when you listen to how we all talk about the game.

It’s a violent sport, and I’m not referring to flagrant fouls.

Players shoot all the time -- they fire away, they launch from outside, they let it fly, they have a quick trigger, they hit baskets, they shoot the lights out, they’re right on target, they’re long-range bombers.

Players steal the ball, trigger the fast break and throw bullet passes for slams.

Teams unload a barrage on their opponents -- and reload.

Coaches always want a lockdown defense and an offense with a lot of firepower.

One NBA broadcaster routinely substitutes the word “gun” for “shot.” As in: “Rip with a 15-foot gun.”

When a jumper goes in, it’s “right between the eyes!” in the lingo of one of the NBA’s most popular play-by-play men.

Pete Maravich was Pistol Pete. Chuck Person was The Rifleman. Adam Morrison is Ammo. Andrei Kirilenko is AK-47.

Allan Houston was “a quiet gunslinger,” according to the New York Times.

Reggie Miller was a deadly gunslinger, in the words of countless writers, broadcasters and fans. NBA.com says he “had a penchant for the spectacular clutch shot in gunslinger fashion that made him a feared and despised opponent.”

Miller’s trademark gunslinger gesture has been copied by Kobe Bryant, who is a “cold-blooded assassin,” as stated on NBA.com and thousands of other sites -- that expression of admiration for Kobe's killer instinct is so commonplace it’s a cliché.

And Gilbert Arenas, just suspended for bringing guns to an NBA locker room -- and making light of his predicament by miming gunplay on the sidelines before a game on Tuesday -- is Agent Zero and Hibachi, an operator known for heating up and firing away without conscience.

A violent vocabulary is as much a part of the game as the lines on the floor.

You think those are just words?

Royce Webb in an NBA editor at ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter here.