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.


At 2/18/2007 1:28 AM, Blogger bobduck said...

gerald green has to get some love for the dee brown tribute. plus nate showed a sense of humor which i guess backs up your "nba as self-aware" assertion.

At 2/18/2007 1:59 AM, Blogger micah said...

dwight howard did seem to get completely robbed even though it wasn't as much as an amazing dunk as an amazing leap. i also thought that green just seemed to mail it in in the second round so his dunks seemed totally uninspired. how did that last dunk get a 50? absurd.

At 2/18/2007 3:16 AM, Blogger m.o. said...

I think they gave it a fifty to make sure that Nate Robinson didn't win a second dunk contest after taking FOR EVER to Dunk it both years. People sort of realized that he was getting way too much love, and gave it to Gerald Green even though he mailed it in. Dwight Wallace should've been there. And where was James White? Rodney Carney?

At 2/18/2007 12:01 PM, Blogger T. said...

Dwight Wallace should've been there

A scary amalgamation of Dwight Howard and Gerald Wallace? Egads.

I'm still waiting for the kiss the rim dunk that Dwight has in his arsenal. It's probably the second most anticipated, non-essential basketball skill in my lifetime, next to Jason Williams elbow pass (unvielded in the 2000 Rookie/Sophomore game in Oakland).

As a longtime FD reader, you guys have been killing it lately - with Valentines and the Return of Chauncey.

At 2/18/2007 12:02 PM, Blogger Rob I said...

Regardless of the score that his dunk was given, Dwight Howard can be the real winner of the All-Star Weekend. Give away the stickers. Don't sell them, Dwight: set up a PO Box, accept SASE's, and ship those stickers out to anyone and everyone. Those stickers would be grassroots publicity at its best.

At 2/18/2007 12:12 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

my attention last night was focused on the unc/bc game, but i was flipping back and forth during time outs and unimportant free throws. the only thing i made SURE i did not miss was the barkley/bavetta race.

i still managed to see the dwight howard sticker dunk and the green/nate-rob final. sticker dunk was really creative, bringing out the measuring tape a nice touch. he was definitely robbed, although i'm not sure how he made christianity cool unless i missed him doing the human crucifix dunk i've been imagining since i learned of his participation.

nate rob's off-the backboard 360 would've been an impressive dunk for anyone, let alone a 5-8 guy, but if you can't do it in 5 tries max, it's over.

last year's ncaa dunk contest was ruined because flight white didn't get enough tries, and the last few nba dunk contests have been marred by a guy having too many tries. is it really that hard to figure this shit out?

At 2/18/2007 12:12 PM, Anonymous paper tiger said...

anyone else feel sorry for bavetta in all that? i mean, he may just play the crotchety straight man to a T, but after it was all over i couldn't help but feel that he thought the whole thing was Riggs/King, while chuck was playing it like Kaufman/Lawler.

At 2/18/2007 12:45 PM, Anonymous Carlos Destrroyo said...

I was on the phone with an ex-roommate during the contest, and we both felt that Howard should have been defaulted to the finals, if only because we knew he had something else in the chamber.

Either that, or we hoped he would tackle Nat-Rob in midair and dunk his body.

Decent contest, but what is it with guys falling in love with the windmill and high jumps? If GG had double-clutched his first finals dunk, he could have at least gotten a 9 from MJ.

At 2/18/2007 1:09 PM, Blogger m.o. said...

Ah, wow, where'd Dwight Wallace come from.

At 2/18/2007 3:47 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Are you using "shibboleth" advisedly?

At 2/18/2007 6:28 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't get what you're asking.

At 2/18/2007 11:15 PM, Anonymous MegaPickles said...

Brown Recluse-

Dwight's sticker had a picture of his smiling face and the words "All Things Through Christ" handwritten on it. DLIC was right. This jew hasn't been that intrigued since "you know what the midwest is..." and when I learned that Mike Seaver has been making movies about the end of days. If only Seckbach had been embedded to ask DH about his faith.

When Scheyer wins the 3-point contest in 5 years, I hope he hits 18 on purpose and refers to himself as the human "chai-light".

Oh, and I bet you a Swag t-shirt that Duke wins a rematch before the end of the season.


At 2/19/2007 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Daniel was asking about what you meant by "hose other two shibboleths," since "shibboleth" means, roughly, "a word used to denote inclusion in a group, but devoid of any real meaning."

Like using the word "shibboleth" in an article on basketball indicates that one has intellectual (or Jewish) leanings, but doesn't mean anything about the NBA or MLB.

At 2/19/2007 10:44 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

okay, fine. it was late when i wrote it and i actually meant to type "leviathan." but i don't think there's any harm in referring to pompous organizations as "shibboleths"

At 2/19/2007 10:44 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

mp - thanks, i heard about the "all things through christ" thing later. i don't know if that makes christianity cool, but it does make you think that if your faith is strong enough, jesus will make you 6-11, ripped, and able to leap over small buildings in single bounds.

i will take that bet, but what do i get if dook loses again?

At 2/19/2007 10:52 AM, Blogger Wade said...

Howard did get completely hosed. However, on both of his dunks, he just went right for it, without any of the bulid-up/crowd-hyping that ususally goes with big dunks.
He should have showed everyone the sticker first- let 'em know what was coming.
And Jordan proved he is a total douche with his crappy stingy scoring. And then he (and everybody) gave a 10 to GG jumping over a (tiny version of a) table?
His alley off the backboard pad from PP was much betta.
Anyways, I thought Nat was a sport, standing in for his cutout. If he would have jumped over Green for his last dunk, he woulda won. One final question: Why would you even come to the contest w/o 4 dunks ready? Both seemed outta ammo in their finale.

At 2/19/2007 10:57 AM, Blogger Wade said...

Re: your use of shibboleths-
Please see Three Amigos and the use of "plethora," or The Princess Bride's use of "inconcievable."
-"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."-

At 2/19/2007 2:24 PM, Anonymous MegaPickles said...

if the dukies lose, i will send you an elton brand all-star basketball camp t-shirt...

At 2/19/2007 2:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

god, fuck off with the "shibboleth" talk. i accidentally typed it before and then made a half-assed defense of it this morning. this is almost as bad as the grammar wars of '06.

it's a blog. i do it for free, in between other shit. start paying me and i'll get a copy editor.

if you all are so disturbed this horrific prose error, i will write half as often in order to ensure perfection.

At 2/19/2007 3:02 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

mp-what size is the shirt?

At 2/19/2007 9:32 PM, Anonymous MegaPickles said...

br- i think i've got a mint condition large, and a gently used medium. i'll have to check next time i'm back in va beach.

i was a counselor at the camp. one day i shall regale with tales of dukies losing knock-out to 12 year olds.


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