It was 15 years ago today — March 24, 2005 — that “The Office” premiered on NBC, and fans of the show still watch and talk about it as if there were new episodes. Nothing less for one of the most beloved TV shows of all time.
One of the highlight episodes of “The Office” is “Basketball,” which was the fifth episode of Season 1. The title of the episode is pretty self explanatory: The office members all get together to play a game of basketball. There are so many great quotes and funny moments from this episode, but there are also a few interesting pieces of behind-the-scenes knowledge that cast members have shared since it first aired.
We’ll go over some of the notable details from “Basketball” that you may not have known. Some of the trivia provided below is from the “Office Ladies” podcast from actresses Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer (who play Angela and Pam on the show, respectively).
The episode was inspired by a deleted scene
According to the Season 1 DVD commentary by writer and director Greg Daniels, the episode was inspired by a deleted scene from the pilot episode where Michael talks about a pick-up basketball game. Unfortunately for us, that deleted scene doesn’t appear to be on the internet anywhere.
Deleted scenes from the pilot were released, but none of them include the basketball comment.
The game was mostly improvised
Daniels created “The Office,” but this episode was actually his TV directorial debut. In his DVD commentary for this episode, Daniels said much of the game was improvised. And although it appeared to all take place in one setting, he says the cast and crew were filmed playing basketball over the course of two days.
The production team simply spliced together the best scenes for one cohesive story. For instance, Michael’s line, “Try not to look too gay on the court” was improvises — Jim’s reaction was the real-life reaction of actor John Krasinski.
Another example is when Stanley starts dribbling the basketball. Although it was in the script for him to not be good at the sport, no one on staff knew exactly what that meant. The actor who plays Stanley, Leslie David Baker, just did that motion on his own, according to “Office Ladies.”
Brian Baumgartner has real game
The actor Brian Baumgartner, who plays Kevin on the show, was perhaps the best basketball player on staff, despite not actually playing in the TV game (actor Krasinski had basketball experience as a high school player as well).
“Between takes, Brian Baumgartner was just shooting baskets on the side and he wasn’t even in the game — and he’s an excellent, excellent athlete in real life, so he was just sinking these 3-pointers, like one right after another,” Steve Carrell said on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. “And I went over to one of our cameramen and said, ‘You’ve got to just film this, just turn the camera on and don’t let him know that you’re shooting it. They filmed him sinking one after another after another and they actually put it in the show because it was just so ironic.
“Really, the best player on both teams wasn’t even on the court and someone that you wouldn’t necessarily think was going to be a dominant force in the game. Brian is a great, great athlete. It was just a fun Easter egg, a fun find as we were shooting it.”
The DVD commentary revealed Baumgartner ended up making 14 shots in a row.
Roy’s elbow to Jim was real and accidental
David Denman (who plays Roy on the show) revealed in an interview with Boston-based news station WBUR that his elbow to Krasinski was real, and actually caused him to bleed.
While the elbow hit fit perfectly within the narrative of the show, Denman says the heat of the moment got the best of him.
“The sad part about it is, in reality, he really did get hit in the face,” Denman said. “I elbowed him. We worked on the beat of me, you know, faking and turning. But he got a little close, and my elbow went up a little higher. And the adrenaline of the situation, you know, everything ends up oftentimes not working out exactly how you plan it. And it was just way too close. And I caught him on the lip, busted his lip up. He’s bleeding. That’s all real blood.
“And they continue filming. And at a certain point, John’s like, ‘Guys, I’m bleeding. Like, really, can we stop filming and stop this?’ And they were supposed to shoot their first poster of what the show is going to be that next Saturday. And he got his lip busted in half thanks to me. So I don’t think John liked me the first couple of years.”
“Office Ladies” also addressed this, saying they had to quit filming after this incident because Krasinski kept bleeding.
Michael made that basketball heave on his first try
During the game, there’s a moment where Michael chucks the ball from deep and it goes way over the basket. But while filming this shot, Carell actually made his heave on his first try, as revealed on “Office Ladies.”
“There’s a moment where Michael, as a joke, it’s in the script, he’s supposed to throw the ball really far and it doesn’t go in. And then he’s supposed to be all upset like, ‘Aw, I usually make those.’ But the first time, he made it!”
Making the shot wouldn’t fit in with the storyline, so it wasn’t included in the episode. But NBC did put it in the deleted scenes for the episode.
You can watch both attempts below.
Dwight’s shirt comes up in the next episode
Dwight wears an interesting shirt in “Basketball” that never gets explained during the episode. But in the following episode, “Hot Girl,” the backstory for the shirt comes into play:
However, fans may not recall this as it’s only in a deleted scene. Still, Dwight explains that the woman on his shirt is an anime character named Konikotaka. And for anime fans, no this is not from a real show. Dwight calls her the “most perfect girl” for him in the deleted scene.