This morning started like any other day in the sleepy seaside town of Los Angeles. But then fisherman and milk enthusiast Pete Martell made a startling discovery:
It was Pau Gasol.
No great mystery here, as a national audience watched Blake Griffin completely end the Spaniard with the Los Angeles Clippersâ€™ first two points of the night:
The uproar and outcry on Twitter was simultaneously jubilant and cranky. A flood of ALL CAPS exclamations was followed by admonishment. Even as they oohed and aahed, people chastised Griffin for what was clearly (at least to them) an over-the-back foul. This led quickly to general questions about Griffinâ€™s character and game: heâ€™s a punk, heâ€™s a whiner, all he does is dunk, he would get dunked on too if he ever tried to play defense. But how can you deny the sheer animal spectacle of that dunk? Man, even Andrew Bynum thought it was nasty:
But the night wasnâ€™t over. Even as people were still raving about Griffinâ€™s first gargantuan slam, even as Agent Cooper was still piecing the whole thing together, Griffin was hatching plans for another grisly execution:
A little less than halfway through the third quarter, Griffin caught Gasol in his death bag again.
And again, out came the boobirds to decry this as an offensive foul for the way Griffin kind of sort of elbowed Gasol in the neck on the way up to the rim. Of special note: the woman who comes out to clean up Gasolâ€™s â€œchalk-sweat outlineâ€ (as netw3rk put it). You can see right here where she wants Sessions to move out of the way, but Sessions is still completely flabbergasted.
So what we all learned last night was that some people hate Blake Griffin, some people hate Pau Gasol, some people hate Andrew Bynum and almost everyone hates either the Lakers or the Clippers. But we all love dunksâ€”some of us just want them to be legal dunks, which is kind of twisted.
This is, after all, an offensive strategy that was banned at the college level from 1967 until 1976â€”nearly as long as prohibition. Itâ€™s the only shot type that can get you a technical foul for doing it for too long. Nobody ever gets charged $100 for holding the follow through on a three. But the very fact that the dunk flirts with illegality is what makes it thrilling. A slam dunk is a big bear with claws and fangs. Itâ€™s at the very limit of what is allowable within the bounds of the rules, but thatâ€™s exactly why itâ€™s compelling. The limits of the competition are there to be tested; youâ€™re even rewarded in many sports for breaking those boundaries. What is a home run, after all, other than one to four points for losing the ball?
The NCAA banned the dunk because it seemed like cheating (and maybe because Texas Westernâ€”with their five black startersâ€”was a threatening champ). But it was too late: the scales had fallen from our eyes. The slam dunk was the dangerous guy, the guy with cigarettes rolled up in his white T-shirtâ€™s sleeve. The guy with the motorcycle. Were either of Blake Griffinâ€™s demonstrations of grievous bodily harm fouls? Maybe, but if they were either clearly outlawed or clearly allowed, the game would be too timid or too lawless. A truly devastating dunk will always seem a little like cheating, and thatâ€™s the way it should be.