Monday, May 16 at 8:50 PM
I had to return for this. Sunday night, I was mainly watching game 1 of the NHL’s Western Conference semi-finals, a game that was much more entertaining than game 1 between the Bulls and the Heat. I tried to watch both, but found myself more drawn to the ice action than the court action. look the hockey game was beyond great, and honestly I am not sure how you can disagree, and certainly worthy of debate on another occasion.
But the hockey game ultimately didn’t “inspire” me to write today( my first fan column since before the NCAA tourney). I had the idea to return to writing today thanks to Taj Gibson’s dunk all over Dwayne Wade. You can watch it here if somehow you have missed it and the office youtube guy was out today:
Ridiculous. Here’s what I love about this dunk.
1. It was early in the game, early in the series where the teams are trying to assert themselves. I would say this was pretty darn assertive. Miami was off to a better start, the game played even through the first half after this dunk and Chicago took control later.
Was this dunk a series “tone-setter?” Miami and their trio of superstars are the league bad guys right now, and perhaps had embraced it a bit demolishing their first two opponents in a way many NBA fans feared through two rounds. Maybe this dunk let them know Chicago would be different?
2. The defender was one of the “bad guys” that put the super team together. He’s also reguarded as one of the top defenders in the league. Gibson is counted on as a minutes guy who contributes when he can. So there’s a little underdog there.
3. How far out Wade challenges Gibson. Most of the time when a player gets “posterized” he’s too low under the hoop, a product of poor rotation or whatever. Wade and Gibson meet at the top of the charge circle, and Gibson powers Wade back, hanging in the air as long as he needs.
So, up for debate: Where does the Gibson dunk on Wade rank in pantheon of all-time play-off dunks? First allow me to introduce some of the competition,
Let’s start with TNT’s top playoff dunks of the decade from 2000-2009
My favorite from this group is Baron Davis throwing down hard on Andrei Kirlenko. Kobe with a mean one in there as well. I got Gibson’s dunk over all these though.
I solicited help in this debate from others in the newsroom, and I have to give all the credit to NBA afficianado and 11@11 Director Marc Johnson for recalling this one, Kevin Johnson on Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994:
Sick, and Hakeem is considered one of the best defenders of all-time. This one stays in the discussion.
More small guys dunking, John Starks on the Bulls:
I remember this one from my formative years and it made me into a Starks fan. In fact I HAD this poster. Still I throw it out as Grant and Jordan were not man on man at the rim.
Speaking of MJ, what would a classic dunk contest be without him?:
I love this one because MJ beat 4 players on this sequence, including two guys (Starks and Oakley) with one move- then dunked on the 7-footer.
Jordan puts one down on one of the best defenders of his era.
Jordan’s running-mate Pippen had his Ewing moment in 1994:
This one had a lot of the same Gibson elements. I like it.
How bout a little old school? (I know the 90’s IS old school to a lot of you):
Bill Walton, while reguarded as one of the greats, isn’t thought of as a dunker, but who can deny this one on Kareem in 1977:
And finally the first dunk recommended to me when I had this idea,Dr. J dunk on Michael Cooper in 1983:
I rank Gibson’s dunk third on my list, behind KJ and Jordan on Ewing. KJ dunked on Hakeem in a similar fashion, but he’s smaller, Hakeem is bigger and considered a tremendous rim defender. I love that Jordan faked out 4 Knicks, then threw down on Ewing.
So what seperates Gibson from Pippen? The intangibles of the series, the elevation and the power.
What do you think, where does the Gibson dunk rank to you? Can you think of a better play-off dunk than those linked here? And how do they all compare to that time Vince Carter jumped over some French dude?
Post your thoughts in the comments below or at the WHAS11Sports facebook page. See ya next time, hopefully more often.