A big part of the work I do for Pigeons & Planes involves scanning my feed and finding something weird and wonderful. At some point in the past few months, I came across a Reddit post that asked the Internet to figure out the height of the basketball hoop Action Bronson dunks on in his video for “Actin Crazy.”
At the time, the question hadn’t been answered, so I bookmarked the post, thinking I would peep it later and find an interesting answer. Today, I checked back in and saw that nobody has figured out just how high Bam Bam jumped to throw down the most vicious dunk of 2015. The video was uploaded to YouTube on February 27, and in all that time, nobody bothered to sit down and do the math.
I had more faith in you, internet. I really didn’t think I would have to be the one to do this. But armed with my high school-level math knowledge, I decided to figure it out for myself, and I came up with an answer that I believe to be reasonably accurate.
First, let’s examine the data we have to work with.
The main thing is to establish a sense of scale, and the most consistent measuring stick we have is Bronson himself. A quick search revealed that he is 5’7″, or 67 inches. This unit of measurement will be referred to as a Bronson.
The whole hoop is never shown in a single frame, and the only time it appears is set against a cloudy sky, without other benchmarks in the background we can use to determine its height.
Still, we should be able to figure out how high Bronson travels on his way up to the hoop by making a composite image of his ascent, using his position in the frame relative to the buildings in the background to determine scale. The cloudy sky presents a problem, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The other problem is that on his way up, he is interrupted by a make-up crew, creating an inconsistent rate of travel. Somebody might be able to do it, but not this guy. Fortunately, his descent back to Earth is uninterrupted and appears to have a somewhat consistent rate of speed, so here’s the composite image I made from that:
There are some inconsistencies between frames—like the left building looking all messed up—so I decided to make the right building align, since we see that one for longer and it was more useful.
I also ran into some trouble once Bronson got up higher than the buildings, because that meant I lost the sense of scale they provided. However, using the frames when Bronson was closer to the ground, I decided that one Bronson lasts about nine frames, determining this by charting how many frames it took for the top of his head to reach where the bottom of his feet were at, relative to a distinct background object.
If that doesn’t quite make sense, refer to the graphic below (larger image here):
The reference point used here was about the only feature I could distinguish from the building on the right, a small indent. In this example, one Bronson doesn’t take place over exactly 9 frames, but when I tested other portions of his fall, some came back as about eight frames, others closer to ten frames. Instead of obsessing over the limitations of YouTube video frame rates, I decided to settle on nine frames as my answer.
I utilized that nine-frame Bronson rate to establish the sense of scale I used to get his position in the composite image as close to correct as I possibly could. Once the composite image was done, figuring out how high the rim is was pretty easy. Action falls about six Bronsons from the hoop. Six Bronsons equals 402 inches (67 inches * 6 Bronsons), which equals 33.5 feet.
So the basketball hoop in the “Actin Crazy” music video is approximately 33-and-a-half feet tall.
Granted, in the frames I used to construct the composite image, Bam Bam isn’t standing straight up, meaning the the definition of a Bronson varies slightly on a frame-to-frame basis. So really, the height of the hoop is probably closer to 34 or 35 feet if you account for his imperfect posture.
Then again, after giving my super concrete findings the ol’ eyeball test, it sure seems like the hoop is a lot higher than I just convinced you and myself that it is. Maybe there are things we’re just not supposed to know. Maybe the power of Bam Bam’s extraterrestrial basketball abilities warps the fabric of time and space, and tests the limits of human perception.
That’s completely possible: When I saw Bronson perform in Portland, Maine in April, his sweat dripped on my face and later on, he touched my shoulder. Since that night, nothing in my life has made sense and I can no longer distinguish between dreams and reality.
Also, this whole thing is a ridiculous exercise and a questionable use of everybody’s time. Look what you made me do, Reddit user jimbo__slice. I hope this answer satisfies you.