DeAndre Jordan took a lob and violently slammed it home last night, sending Pistons guard Brandon Knight tumbling to the court in the process.
Everyone freaked out.
Blake Griffin had to be restrained on the bench and later called it the best dunk he’s ever seen in person. LeBron and JR Smith and others went nuts about it on Twitter. And pretty much every blog is referring to it as the Dunk of the Year this morning.
It’s a great dunk — electrifying and incredibly powerful. But it’s not the BEST DUNK EVER like some will have you believe. It’s overrated, and the reason it’s overrated has to do with intent.
This dunk is getting so much attention because Jordan dunked over Knight. There’s something primal about going through a person that you are supposed to go around, and it heightens everything about the dunk.
But Jordan didn’t intend to dunk over him.
If you watch the video closely, there are no defenders in front of Jordan when he streaks down the lane to accept the lob. Knight rotates from the far corner, jumping to try to deflect the lob. But he only arrives after Jordan starts the process of the dunk.
What happens after that is astonishing. Jordan grabs the pass, cocks the ball in his right hand, and dunks it while flattening Knight.
But he would have made that same movement regardless of whether or not Knight was there.
Consider this analogy: A pro skier is speeding down a hill toward a ramp, getting ready to do a simple move. At the very last second, a team of workers erects a flaming ring of fire directly in front of the ramp. The skier has no time to adjust, but the moves he was making for the original trick happen to take him safely through the ring without so much as a singed eyebrow, much to the crowd’s delight.
The ring doesn’t make the skier’s trick more amazing, because the trick was executed completely independent of the ring.
The same can be said for the DJ dunk. By Knight futilely trying to block it, the context of the dunk changed, but the content of his movements stayed the same. Yeah, Jordan takes a little bump when Knight arrives, but he’s so much bigger than Knight that it hardly matters.
To me, the thing that makes it amazing to dunk over someone is the fact that the dunker knows he’s there. The dunker sees the basket and sees defender, but counter-intuitively he decides to go straight over him to score.
That’s not what Jordan did.
It’s a great dunk, yes. But dunk of the century? No. Dunk of the year? No.
For me, it’s still this Michael Kidd-Gilchrist slam, where he sizes up a taller defender before dunking.
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