What is a lay-up, anyway?

I’m watching Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser pontificate, again, on things they know very little about, and they are, as usual, reiterating the conventional wisdom while pretending to be outrageous or iconoclastic or hard-hitting or something. They keep referring to the last-second shot Courtney Lee missed last night as a “lay-up,” and Wilbon, in particular, says that Lee deserves to be considered the “goat” for this miss. But there’s two things to be said about this: First, it wasn’t a lay-up, it was an alley-oop. And, second, while Turkoglu’s pass was pretty good, it wasn’t, pace Stan Van, great. (Don’t get me wrong, Stan Van, it was a great call. Still the timing needed to be perfect, which it wasn’t.) Lee caught the ball while jumping toward the baseline, and he caught it at basically his waist, and, more important, it was already under or maybe even behind the backboard when he got to it. So he had to scoop it back under the board, away from his own momentum. His big mistake was to try to bank it when that was physically almost impossible, given the angle, but if he had tried a finger-roll over the side rim – his only real option – well, that really would have been something, an act of touch and body control you might expect from very few players in the history of the game. Michael Jordan comes to mind. Sure, it looked easy, because player and ball were close to the basket, but it wasn’t easy, because backboards, when they’re in the way, tend to make stubborn barriers. This is the sort of practical wisdom that I’m guessing both Wilbon and Kornheiser have straightforward excuses for being innocent of.