The dunk takes precedence

The dunk takes precedence


The dunk takes precedence

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I witnessed Amare Stoudemire claiming another victim last week. Anthony Tolliver, a major D-League gem the Golden State Warriors have had fall in their laps, was having the game of his life. He was torching the Suns with 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots.

The Warriors seemed to be on their way to knocking off Phoenix, one the hottest teams since the All-Star break, with Tolliver getting the best of Stoudemire.

In one stretch, Tolliver blocked Grant Hill‘s attempted dunk and then a few minutes later smashed Jared Dudley’s attempt at the basket. He was looking like Dan Issel, Karl Malone and Bill Russell all wrapped together. He was pumping his chest and feeling like he could do no wrong.

We all have been in that position before in our lives where we felt the effects of being in a zone. Regardless of what the action was, things just kept coming up roses.  Investing, good fortune at work, family life, etcetera… Everything we encountered for a period of time turned to gold.

Now some of us stay humble and understand we all have our limits. Even though we are having success investing and making money, we still can’t go buy an airplane like Bill Gates. Although work is good, we still can’t become the CEO and family life is great but we still must continue to appreciate and be thankful.

With a three-point lead, the Warriors were in control and running to improve the lead.

Then… Boom.

It all changed in a nasty devastating way – especially for Tolliver.

The ball was knocked loose and all but two players were on the other end of the floor when Jason Richardson picked up the ball. Tolliver was staring directly at Stoudemire. The most important figure in the production of this movie getting ready to happen was Richardson. He immediately got a vision of what could transpire when he saw Stoudemire running the wing and that man Tolliver standing tall and waiting to take on the next victim.

The one thing we realize about being a human is we cannot conquer all. There is always someone or something we just can’t beat no matter what we do. We all must know our limitations and admit that there is one mountain we just will never be able to climb. There is someone or something that will always humble you and bring you down to earth.

When it comes to the dunk in basketball, you have the freestyle and the in-your-face. Richardson is more of a freestyle dunker. He can put on an aerial show when left alone on the break and those are the dunkers that win contests. Everyone can applaud a freestyle dunk because no victim was claimed.

Then you have the in-your-face dunkers. Tolliver obviously was not watching highlights of Stoudemire’s previous victims or maybe he felt, because of his spectacular game, that he was ready to take on the most devastating in-your-face dunker in the NBA.

When Stoudemire received the pass, I immediately knew what could happen. The great thing about technology is it just keeps getting better. HD television is especially for situations like this. You could see right away that Tolliver was not looking to draw a charge or give into defeat by just fouling and sending Stoudemire to the line for two free throws. He was Michael Spinks taking on Mike Tyson or any team taking on this year’s version of Connecticut’s women’s college basketball team. Tolliver was ready to take on the best and fear was not in the equation.

When Amare approached Tolliver you could tell he was intent on claiming his next victim. I wonder if Jeff Foster or Michael Olowakandi were watching. Those two experienced the wrath of a Stoudemire in-your-face dunk.

When he rose up, Tolliver met him at the top and it looked like he might pull off the spectacular defensive play and solidify his quest to take on the best.

Didn’t happen.

All Tolliver had done was wiped away because of a three-point play and the momentum drastically changed. Stoudemire tortured him the rest of the quarter on his way to 37 points and Tolliver was no factor the rest of the game.

Tolliver has not had a blocked shot in his last two games, which could be coincidental or maybe not.

Why is the dunk so important in basketball and why is it considered as the ultimate highlight along with the three-point shot?

I had about 40 dunks in my career and I attribute that to being able to play 18 years as a professional. I always viewed two points as two points and the less energy I could use to get those points the better.

Players today want the spectacular and fans crave it. The dunk is worth two points, but in a weird way it changes the flow of a game and can lower the confidence of an opponent. I have never understood why that happens, but then again I never played above the rim.

I have been a major critic of how coaches have turned our game into a three-point shot or drive and potential dunk. The mid-range game has disappeared and now we get confrontations like Stoudemire vs. Tolliver on a regular basis. Fans love it.

This is a pride thing that has become somewhat silly. Players will back off a player worried about getting crossed over and dunked on, but give up a wide open shot. The embarrassment factor takes more precedence than the actual making of the shot.

The dunk is the hardest thing to do for people who can’t jump and most fans of basketball can’t. They want to see it and players like Stoudemire will provide it and unfortunately for Tolliver he became the latest victim.

I have seen teams losing games and fans and teammates get excited when they cross over or dunk on an opponent. The confrontation is the game within the game and this very thought process takes over the final score at times.

The idea is to win the war not the battle, so the only question I would want to ask Tolliver is… Would you have been excited if you had won the game despite getting dunked on?

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