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

Rob Gronkowski retirement: 5 fast facts about the tight end’s stellar career

first_img“It was a pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years,” Belichick said in a statement. “From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships.“Rob’s impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways. … Rob will leave an indelible mark on the Patriots organization and the game as among the best, most complete players at his position to ever play.”Gronkowski, who struggled with injuries throughout his career, won three Super Bowls and made five Pro Bowls during his time with New England.Here are five fast facts about the tight end’s stellar career:— The tight end tallied four seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards. That’s tied for the most ever by a player at his position.— The former Arizona star leads all tight ends in postseason catches (81), receiving yards (1,163) and receiving scores (12). Jerry Rice is the only player who has caught more touchdowns in the playoffs.— Gronkowski and Rice are the only two pass catchers in history to register 20 or more receptions, 200 or more receiving yards and three or more touchdowns in the Super Bowl.— In 2011, Gronkowski pulled in 17 touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end. Only four players have ever had more receiving scores in a single season. Rob Gronkowski will not be back in a Patriots uniform in 2019.The 29-year-old tight end announced his retirement Sunday on Instagram. He spent all nine of his NFL seasons in New England. — Since he entered the NFL in 2010, Gronkowski has registered seven games with multiple touchdowns and 100 or more receiving yards. Only four wideouts have recorded more: Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones.Stats provided by OptaJerry “It’s time to move forward and move forward with a big smile on my face knowing that the New England Patriots organization, Pats nation and all my fans will truly be a big part of my heart for the rest of my life,” Gronkowski wrote. “It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great, established organization.”Patriots coach Bill Belichick praised Gronkowski later in the day. Related Newscenter_img Patriots star Tom Brady reacts to Rob Gronkowski’s retirement announcement Bill Belichick praises Rob Gronkowski: He ‘was a major reason why we won games and championships’last_img read more