The Art And Mystery Of The Dunk

Chris Ballard has an excellent essay on the art, history, and mystery of the dunk.

Like a sizable chunk of sporting America, I remain intrigued by the dunk, even if I’m not always sure why. After all, I’ve seen a million of them, replayed on the highlight shows and casually dropped in on NBA layup lines and shoved down my throat by anthropomorphic mascots hurtling off trampolines. Yet I can’t look away.  For men, it’s like cleavage; we’ve seen acres of it, but that doesn’t stop us from looking again. It’s part instinct, part the lure of the unattainable and part the hope that we’ll see something spectacular.

The dunk is the easiest shot in basketball, really, but also one that relatively few can make, requiring a combination of height, youth, leaping ability and coordination. A 60-year-old can run a marathon, and almost anyone can get lucky and hit a hole in one or a half-court heave, but no one lucks into a dunk. Either you can do it or you can’t.

Julius erving once said, “When you feel yourself go up above the rim for the first time and put the ball through, there’s nothing like it. You want to do it again and again and again.” Wilkins says throwing down made him feel like a king.

…maybe that’s the ultimate appeal of the dunk. Close our eyes, and all of us can imagine doing it. Most of us never will, though, so we live vicariously through those who can, reveling in their ability to make the impossible look easy. We wish we could become one of them. Inevitably, they will become one of us.

I tried to get my body back into shape about this time last year for a push at dunking, but I came up unsuccessful, utlimately.  Mostly due having a hard time losing weight and probably putting on too much mass with weight training.  It was fun training for it, however; it definitely helped by pick up game in so far as being better at grabbing boards and sending ill-timed shots back into the shooter’s face >:) (there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of emphatically blocking somone’s jumpshot, though I imagine posterizing someone to be equally, it not more, exhilerating).

Worth a read for any fans of the game.

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