No Contest?

by Justin Cherot

Whether or not I’m near a TV, trolling on Twitter is a nightly habit of mine.  Sometimes it’s kind of a #wasteoftime, especially when people on my timeline are re-tweeting complete #ratchetness.  But every now and then an event happens that, as tweeps like to say, “break Twitter.”

Well, Los Angeles Clippers’ center DeAndre Jordan, known for his often ridiculous aerial assaults, broke Twitter Sunday night at the expense of Detroit Pistons’ guard Brandon Knight.

The dunk (which you probably just clicked on and watched for the 500th time by now) was bad enough, but the #ripbrandonknight campaign took it over the top.  Hell, before I saw the clip for myself, I just assumed that he had passed away on the court.  Thankfully, it was yet another footnote in what has been another dreadful season in Detroit.

Yet, as bad as the dunk was–and make no mistake, it was vicious; the stinkface on Jordan said it all–if you’re a guard who has played at against any semblance of competition, you’ve probably been in this situation at least once, forced to help when your big guy gets beat to the rim.  At Atholton, the great Coach Jim Albert used to tell his guards not to leave their feet to block shots because more often than not you’re either A) not going to block the shot, or b) you’re going to foul the guy due to your lack of athletic prowess.

I listened.  I was a horrible defender for the most part, and still am (more in a minute), but I knew my only chance to stay on the court was to take charges and hold my ground.  Due mainly to my time spent in Howard County, I can proudly say I was never dunked on in a HIGH SCHOOL game.

But during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, it happened.  To date, it’s the only time in my 30 years on this planet.

It was during Buzz Braman’s offensive skill camp.  Braman was a renowned “shot doctor” who was hands down the best shooter I have ever seen, and the goal of his camp was to pass along his offensive wisdom to us young folk.  I have no clue how Shaquille O’Neal, who Braman worked with for O’Neal’s first couple of years in the league, never became a good free throw shooter.  The guy was a genius.

I digress.  Late in the day we were scrimmaging.  I missed a three from the top of the key (I know, rarely happens), and a guard named Mike Adams from the other team (16 years later and I still know his name, what he looks like, and that he wore Degree deodorant that day) snatched the board and darted past the congestion in the paint.

I was the only one back, but he was so quick that as I retreated he quickly caught up.  I tried beating him to a spot, but in the end I was just riding his hip, trying in futility to get him to change direction.

Surprisingly, even though I couldn’t shift him, I was running stride for stride with surely one of the quicker, more athletic guards in the state of Maryland.  Forgetting Coach Albert’s Rules of Shot Engagement momentarily, I said to myself, “I’m going to pin this [fecal matter] to the backboard.”

As he got closer to the rim, he went up for the lay-up.  I jumped with him, probably higher than I’ve ever jumped before.  One problem, though…

…he wasn’t going up for a lay-up.


The gym went nuts.  I wanted to run in the women’s bathroom, close the stall and cry while listening to Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.”  Afterwards, my friend Greg, who had seen it unfold, tried to console me by saying, “You got up, though.”

Fast forward to last week.  I had spent the last 16 years not being remotely close to being crammed on.  I was playing pick-up on a team that was completely overmatched athletically, yet we were hitting enough jumpers to stay close.

I missed one (again, rare), and there I was, back in transition on the wrong end of a two on one.  Only this time, a ball mercifully rolled onto the court and play stopped.

Except I was unaware that play had stopped, so I played defense like everything was kosher.  The guy with the ball took what I thought was a lousy shot from like 30 feet.  I went to grab the rebound.

Only it wasn’t a shot.  It was a lob.  To a guy who was only slightly taller than me.

And yet, I felt legs on my shoulders.  I heard the rim snap back.  I heard the same “OHHHHHH!!!!” that I heard from that summer camp 16 years ago.

Once the guy was off the rim, I gulped and decided to search for some clarification.

I whispered to the dunker.  “You missed that, right?”

He laughed, the only thing breaking up the stinkface.  “Yeah.  Back rimmed it.”

There was absolutely no reason he should have missed that dunk.  None.  Divine intervention?  Possibly.  So I did the only thing I could possibly think of.

I thanked him.

“Thanks, man.  That would have been sick.”

He laughed.  And torched me for the last six points of the game.

Which is why I appreciate Knight taking the high road on Twitter, saying that he forgot to read the scouting report on the Clippers’ propensity for lobs.

The more I think about it, there’s definitely a life lesson to getting dunked on.  As embarrassing as it may be, you have to remember that it’s just two points, one play in a 48, 40, or 32 minute game.  The best practice is to get up, shake it off, and keep playing.  It’s just one play.

The same goes for if you get your ankles broken, too.

UPDATE: I am a horrible human being. I wrote that previous sentence BEFORE learning he sprained his ankle against the Utah Jazz last night. I wish him a speedy recovery.


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