Dunk Contest + Sick Athleticism = Out-of-Whack Expectations
- Updated: February 15, 2009
At the pinnacle of my hoops “career,” I think I registered a 24-inch vertical. Sick hops, for sure. Having spent the summer before wearing those awesome platform-like Strength Shoes, I could now do what I’d waited years to do. Yes, I could now touch the backboard on my layup line follow-through. Opponents surely cowered as they saw me tap the rubber molding fingers outstretched.
It’s in this context that I’m re-examining the dunk contest. Maybe it was fatigue. Perhaps it was the crap-ass cold I can’t seem to shake. Whatever the reason, I found myself adopting a rather cynical attitude about last night’s affair. I sat there watching, waiting to be inspired. And only a few dunks in I wrote the whole thing off as garbage.
Really, this is the best we can do? A toss from behind the basket coupled with a reverse windmill? Catch it on a bounce, drop it below your knees and throw it down with a two-handed reverse? Puh-leez. Booo-ring.
Seriously, that’s where my head was at following the first few dunks and even into the “finals.” Then, I realized something. I deserved to be bitch-slapped, as does anyone else who was complaining about last night’s event. That said, it’s not entirely our collective fault. You see, we’ve been spoiled.
The ridiculous athleticism of today’s players has caused us to think almost anything is possible. And why not? You’ve got 6’1o guys throwing it down on 12-ft hoops and oompa loompa-sized dudes jumping over human beings. We’ve become so accustomed to the out-of-this-world so much so that we no longer even appreciate it as such. I mean, take Nate’s winning dunk.
Are we enamored of him because he’s pint-sized compared to the rest of the league? Absolutely. Is jumping over someone the most original thing we’ve seen in a slam dunk competition? Surely not. But c’mon, people. I don’t care if he pushed off, splayed his leg or if he had used a step stool, that was flat-out stupid. If your kudos are not to be awarded for creativity, can we at least give credit for sheer athleticism (and showmanship, the green was a nice touch)?
The bottom line is that the dunk contest is back. So, as much as we focus on Superman himself, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Gerald Green and Nate have played just as big a role. Sure, the 2009 version lacked the cape and cupcakes creativity of year’s past, but how ’bout we give the guys a break? Because what they’re doing out there is still just ridiculous, unfortunately, so now are our expectations.