Material's Numb Crux
Needless to say, the major story to flow forth from tonight's festivities is Howard-gate. I speak, naturally, of the Sticker Dunk, and how all of the Association's dunk luminaries misjudged its import. The primary cause might well have been the lack of a replay at their disposal—stupid, and typical of past Dunk Contest mismanagement. Allow us to suppose, for a second, that it was out of some far more grievous fallacy that this rot was unleashed.
That big men don't win these things is no relevation. The reasons are as pointed as the statement: their size lessens the drama of their acts, and usually comes at the cost of fluidity. Most importantly, if the underlying premise of the Dunk Contest is that dunking is difficult, big men are at a disadvantage. They are taller; ergo, putting ball to basket is less of a feat for them. This principle operates on an almost unconscious level, allowing them to be seen as both lesser and greater than their guard-sized opponents. In short, a monstrosity to all that this event stands for.
Enterprising young man that he is, Dwight Howard had sought to address this primordial flaw by heightening the goal. When the NBA refused him this bold step, he went for the next best thing: showcasing his tremendous leaping and reaching ability by slapping a sticker onto the backboard. But as much as this might have made apparent the relative immensity of his athleticism (i.e., really high even for someone pushing seven feet), in the end this tactic backfired. The judges, all of them guards or small forwards, saw only a center depending on his reach. Sans a replay, they reasoned that a big man reaching way up high. To them, this did little but emphasize his obvious advantage, proportion be damned.
And thus, one of the most spectacular dunks we've ever seen was given short shrift by some of the sport's foremost disciples of the leaping arts. Yes, it was just a jump. But the prop was inspired (pun intentional), the sheer physical statement the stuff of Shaq-dom, and the concept one yet undiscovered in this field. Plus, as avowed Jew Dr. LIC put it, Howard managed to make Christianity cool. If ever Dwight Howard was going to win a contest without changing the dimensions of the equipment, this was the dunk.
Ironically, it was the same preoccupation with height that gives Nate Robinson such tremendous tailwind with every pack of judges he's ever faced. Even once it's been established that this little dude can indeed dunk, he's still rewarded simply for being able to do so. After a point, don't we take that vertical for granted, just as some people have realized the Howard can cover great swathes of the earth even for a center? It's like they responded mostly to the fact that Robinson did anything whatsoever——possibly even rooting for him more because of last year's shoddy victory. Fine, a smaller person can get up like an adult. Get over the shock and judge the artistry.
I expected much more of Gerald Green. Dr. LIC observes that the last three years, the league's worst team has found itself a winner in the Dunk Contest. You can start talking right now.
The real highlight of the evening was probably Barkley/Bavetta. Without getting too fulsome, this is exactly why the NBA rules. Sure, Stern can be a problem, but in the end, his Association has a sense of humor and self-awareness about itself that those other two shibboleths sure don't. It also reminded of an artist my friend may or may not have told me about, whose consisted of getting NBA players to run absurd offensive sets and video-taping the whole thing. If I had a career in the art world, and somehow had the entire NBA at my disposal, this would have been my finest hour.