The Washington Post

In praise of dunkers like Blake Griffin

When I was younger, my brother and I were aspiring basketball players. We were those kids who watched the games and then went outside on the court. The guy who motivated me the most was Dominique Wilkins, and of course my brother Mike naturally changed his last name to Jordan.

So we would lower the rim enough to compete in our own dunk contest. To live up to our heroes, we named ourselves while playing. I was really explosive and dunked the ball really hard. Mike had that finesse; he was real smooth.

At the time, Wilkins was the most explosive NBA player hands down. He would jam on anyone in his way, He set the tone and he was nicknamed “The Human Highlight Film.”

Then came a guy nicknamed the “Rain Man.” Shawn Kemp would blam on people like they stole something from his home. We called that “just ignorant and angry dunks”--that’s how hard he dunked on guys. He dunked on a guy one time, knocked him down and then pointed at him when he landed.

Then came Vince Carter. I actually was at the dunk contest he participated in and he was the most amazing athlete in the sport of basketball that I have seen with my own eyes. He was jumping to the top of the back board in warm ups! He dunked over a seven footer like he was short and didn’t even feel bad about it.

All of these guys were just ruthless in the way they embarrassed guys, but the next guy in line could be the most unconscious of all, Blake “I will even dunk on your momma” Griffin. I gave him that nickname. It makes me laugh, plus every dunk artist needs a nickname.

I think Griffin’s sole purpose is to embarrass guys with how he dunks over them. It’s like he picks out a victim before the game and then goes after him. I’m not sure I’d ever want to walk out on a court in front of people and play again after being posterized the way Pau Gasol was by Griffin, twice.

The league needs Griffin. He returns the game to the old school when he plays--tough, hard nosed and exciting.

Who do you think is the best dunker of all time? I believe if Griffin can maintain this pace, he has a shot at claiming the title.



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