“The WTF Play”

In the first panel, 2 has the option to curl 4’s flare screen toward the hoop (red arrow), but usually, he’ll fade to the weakside wing

Term: The WTF Play (aka “What the Fuck” or “Indiana”)

Definition: a sideline out-of-bounds play (SLOB) with a flare screen on the backside, followed by a rip/pin screen-the-screener combination for the in-bounder

Playcall: Golden State coach Steve Kerr shrugs his shoulders instead of saying the play’s (unedited) name.

“I didn’t want my guys yelling out, ‘WHAT THE F — -!’ with families and little kids sitting there,” Steve Kerr told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in 2020. “So I told them, ‘Hold your arms up like you’re shrugging.’ It was a little less conspicuous that way.”

Origin of the Name: According to Phil Jackson, Red Holzman drew up the play back in 1969 when he was coaching the New York Knicks. Later that season, during a timeout towards the end of a close game, Holzman tried drawing up the play again but forgot how it worked, so he said, “Now what the fuck was that play again?”

Phil Jackson remembered that play when he became a coach, running it for the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers.

How It Works:

The in-bounder (3) passes to a big (5) in the slot, and then 5 looks for 2 cutting off 4’s flare screen. If 2 curls the screen (red arrow in the diagram), 5 can pass to 2 for a layup or an alley-oop, but usually, 2 will fade to the weakside wing, and then 5 will pass to 4.

If the flare doesn’t provide an advantage, the three players on the strong side run a typical rip/pin screen-the-screener combination: 1 sets a backscreen for 3 (the in-bounder), and then 1 cuts off a down screen from 5.

SLOB Rip/pin StS — as well as Rip DHO, a close cousin—is probably the most popular sideline play in the NBA. The “WTF Play” simply precedes the rip/pin with a backside flare screen, and the apparent confusion of the playcall sometimes helps to catch the defense off guard.

However, the in-bounder has the option to reject 1’s back screen and cut off 5’s down screen instead:


The in-bounder can also reject the backscreen and use the pin-down instead:

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