The Physics Of Basketball | StarTalk

We’re exploring the
physics of basketball, featuring my interview with NBA
All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Check it out. A rebound– in
basketball, you have to get a sense of how the
thing is going to bounce before the thing
makes that bounce so that you can be in the
right place at the right time. What’s going through
your head when you– how many rebounds? Was it a billion? I think 17,000. 17,000 rebounds. The angle in
equals the angle out. So if a shot comes from
this angle at the basket, the probability is it’s going to
take the same angle coming off the other side. By the way, that’s a law. That’s a law of optics. The angle of incidence equals
the angle of reflection. Right and, it’s like a mirror. So you have to understand
the angle it’s going to come off and then the
distance from the rim and backboard that
you need to be at to have the
optimum opportunity to collect the rebound. Plus, 101-inch wingspan. [laughs] Well, it helps, but the
ability to anticipate is– So we can spend 10
minutes you telling me, I calculate the angle, but
then really, I just reach out and grab the ball. No. There’s some people
that just stand there. You’ve got to move. So you were particularly
potent because you basically combined your
100-inch wingspan with the knowledge of
angle of incidence and angle of reflection. Right, and what we call hops. What we call hops. Chuck what are hops? That’s a new word for me. In my day, I don’t know
that I used that word, hops. Hops is– that’s
your vertical. – Vertical?
– Yeah, basically. Hang time?
Vertical? Yeah, yo. Bro got hops. Like, yeah, you can get up. That’s when you
play above the rim. You get hops, you know? He just told me a
little bit about his game. Ooh. You weren’t a leaper. No.
No. I just– where I grew up,
we didn’t have that word. We didn’t use that word. Yeah, that’s called dis. But I could jump. All right. No. I could dunk the
ball in ninth grade. So you had hops. That’s all there is to it.
– Yeah. So you know– I did not have hops. [laughs]