Dunking shows the love of basketball

first_imgThis weekend, a guy jumped over a mascot and dunked a basketball. No big deal. Sure, it wasn’t Taylor Swift dissing Kanye at the Grammys or a political statement by Kendrick, but man, was it entertaining.The dunk contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend can be a thing of beauty, and this year it was. It was a phenomenal display of athletic talent by two young men no older than myself. Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine dueled Saturday night and showed the world why nothing beats the NBA’s All-Star Festivities.Who doesn’t want to watch athletes show off their superior athletic talent and do tricks in the air that leave you wondering how it was even possible. The slam dunk is not only one of the most entertaining plays in basketball, but also all of sports.It doesn’t carry the same weight as a Grand Slam or a Hail Mary, but those are special; the dunk is normal. It happens in every basketball game we watch, and yet it got the most special treatment when two spectacular athletes battled each other, topping each other again and again to earn the crown of Slam Dunk Contest champion.The SDC shows the most basic beauty and love for the game, something easily translated across languages and cultures to fans of all ages around the world.Aaron Gordon showed us his stuff when he leaped over Stuff the Magic Dragon, the Magic’s aptly named mascot, doing something seemingly even more impossible each time. He jumped high enough in one dunk to have earned a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.On the other hand, champion Zach LaVine displayed the power and agile movements of a cat, soaring through the air with grace, speed and force only to slam the ball down at the last moment after executing a series of turns and spins that would make a gymnast do a double take.The roots of the love for the game of basketball were exposed in this contest. There was competition, finesse, grace, power and execution, but most of all there was fun. All of the dunk contest participants and other NBA players sitting courtside looked like they had the joy of young kids playing ball in the park. The show being put on was unlike any NBA game where millions of dollars and playoff berths are on the line; this was purely for the love of the dunk.Nothing is more electrifying to an arena of anxious fans than a dunk. Nothing puts an exclamation point on the game quite like a dunk can do in the final seconds and nothing quite impresses like a dunk if for no other reason than everyone is aware of how physically incapable they are of emulating it. This translates well to our own basketball team that is one of the most electrifying teams in the conference, if not the country. The rate and skill with which the Trojans dunk the basketball is an absolute joy to watch.The team has a total of 86 dunks through the first 23 games of the season, more than doubling their opponents’ total of 41. Freshman dunking phenom Chimezie Metu has 36 dunks. Junior Julian Jacobs is second to Metu with 23 on the year, already surpassing his 19 from last season.This exponential increase in dunking has led to an increase in excitement and is one of many reasons why the Trojans are such a fun team to watch.The glee and fierce competitiveness that comes from a slam dunk is so unique to the game of basketball. Within the select number of athletes who can execute it, there is then another level of athleticism required to make it memorable.During a fast break during USC’s game against ASU, Metu threw the ball off the backboard to himself and finished it with a slam. The creativity or perhaps desperation of this move is something that can stand on his personal highlight reel for years to come.In the same way, LaVine and Gordon have made a name for themselves from the unbelievable performances they gave Saturday night.The dunk is exhilarating, majestic and captivating all in the span of a few moments and that is why the dunk is so special. So for all those who have the capability to dunk, please let this be your go-ahead. We all love it. Thank you for letting us vicariously soar through the clouds for a few moments every time you reach up for that hoop and throw the ball down.Hailey Tucker is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Tucker Talks,” runs every other Wednesday.last_img read more