It’s Kenny “The Jet’s” favorite line each and every year, because quite frankly, there is nothing like it in sports.
My boy Little Big Dog aka Glenn Robinson III straight out of Ann Arbor, he who helped us reach the National Championship stole the show with a backwards over his mascot, cheerleader, and teammate dunk that his opponent could not pull off. As the final dunk-off approached, the contest had you wondering if we would see a worthy champion after many missed attempts. But the last dunk of the night by my boy from Michigan left no doubt.
I thought that tall snarf from the New York Knicks might beat out the more agile guards in the skills competition, and sure enough, for the second straight year, the big men beat out the smaller players. And Eric Gordon beat Kyrie Irving in a shootout to win the 3-point contest, ensuring we won’t be looking at another Golden State snarf as the champion again. But nothing can compare to the raw excitement of the nightcap, the Slam Dunk Contest.
Since I was a kid, the ability to throw down a dunk has mesmerized me. When you witness it in person, it has the ability to shake the whole arena. It takes elevation: that rim is ten feet above the ground. Once in my life when I was really in the zone, I got the perfect jump and sent the ball home, feeling like I was flying.
There is essentially one factor the judges need to consider when grading a dunk: did it make you jump out of your seat? Every contest I’ve ever watched, whether it was with my brother in my mom’s basement or tonight out on the porch along the river, that’s the litmus test. And sure enough, that criteria held strong on DeAndre Jordan’s opening attempt, where on his first try (key to keeping the hype) he flew over big ass DJ Khaled and his dj equipment, all seven foot plus of him, to throw it down – a much more sensational and difficult dunk than they gave him credit for.
And immediately after, Robinson III earned a 50 by leaping over two people, the top one holding the basketball who he snatched it from and reverse jammed. THAT brought everyone to their feat and forced me to leap from my chair. The Dunk Contest was ON. Finally, last year’s runner up did a horrendous job, missing 6 out of 7 dunk attempts to eliminate himself on back-to-back tries. Embarrassing. I thought my Clippers center threw down another nice between the legs try, but the judges preferred a cocky Phoenix player who declared after one round, “It’s over.”
The problem all night long was too much credit for missed dunks, leaving little space between, say, a 9/10 and a FAIL. For making a difficult leap over Paul George, Little Big Dog received a 44. Then, Mr. I Already Won missed three straight attempts, but still got a 37?! He set up three people including a cheerleader and his mascot for the first two tries, then told the cheerleader to get lost and STILL COULDN’T THROW IT DOWN! Remember that for the final round…
Now, Mr. Moron led off the last dunk-off, and despite missing once, was given a 50 for an albeit pretty impressive bounce pass, between the legs left-handed dunk. So, my boy had to earn it, it felt like an average dunk just couldn’t win it. So what does he do? The same thing the snarf who already said he’d “won it” failed to complete: bringing out the mascot, cheerleader, and player to stunt on an opposing participant like I’d never seen.
He was ALL IN. It was his moment. For the largely forgotten second round pick, this had the potential to be his coming out party. He flew over all three people, taking the ball and reversing home a memorable slam, sending the crowd, judges, and myself into hysteria with a walk-off 50 and the first ever Slam Dunk Championship in Michigan history. NOW, IT WAS OVER. As the Jet says, “The Dunk Contest was back!” Robinson let everyone know who he was, and since each Sunday as of late is about as impressive as the Celebrity Game with all the bricks, that was the best night of basketball you will see until next year.
Thank god for the Slam Dunk Contest. There is truly nothing like it. And congratulations to Glenn Robinson III, a worthy winner after two consecutive seasons of Zach LaVine Space-Jamming his was to glory. I truly cannot wait to see the two of them battle it out in 2018. God Bless the game of basketball, my favorite sport since before I can remember.