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Miles By Inches

This morning the complex connective algorithms of YouTube were vocal and insistent that I needed to see “Blake Griffin POSTERIZES Kris Humphries on 1/8/14.”

I’m a sucker for caps lock, so I bit. Chances are if you’re reading this then you were probably also targeted for this clip across multiple social media platforms, either by robotic recommendation or blogger promotion. But just in case you somehow slipped through the digital nets here’s the spectacle:

Cue Griffin sneer and DeAndre funny face. Give Blake his requisite slow clap. Pour out a little coffee for the piece of Kris Humphries’ soul that is gone forever.

It was a splendid feat of athleticism, but on the scale of emotional inspiration it didn’t move the needle for me. I know, I know. I’m cold and dead inside.

This has everything it should, all the prerequisites for legacy. There is the moment of recognition, given to us a split second before the players by replay, slow motion and multiple camera angles. A splendid pocket pass by Jamal Crawford slithers between Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass, finding its way to Griffin’s enormous mitts as though pulled in by a tractor beam. There is the coil, the gather, the moment where motion is slowly drawn into one direction only to be launched into the aether. A stumbling victim with the grating good looks of an 80s teen movie villain is cast aside. It’s a full and physical narrative arc — beginning, middle and destructive end, unfolded in seconds.

But for me, it’s a resounding, “meh.”

Griffin is a deified vessel for kinetic energy. He compiles and collates it, transforming it into vicious destruction of man, ball and rim. But here there is no transfer of that kinetic energy, it just dissipates as the ball is hurled through the net. It’s man and ball, with rim escaping by the skin of its teeth. This isn’t the first time this has happened to Griffin on his one man campaign to Mozgov an entire civilization. He can jump so high and from so far, that often the bodies of his hapless victims separate him from that final act of completion. Without contact with the rim that buildup of kinetic energy is never released. I’ve watched this a dozen times and I don’t see a dunk. It’s a high jump with arm waving emphasis.

I don’t mean to discredit the act, or the physical talent involved in its creation. But aesthetically I’m left unsatisfied. A dunk involves the rim, perhaps not by definition but certainly by implication. It’s the upper corner of canvas on which to finish a masterpiece. The rim can be furiously strangled, wrestled to the ground as Kenyon Martin was so fond of demonstrating. It can be a spring on which to revive vertical motion as a player pulls themself upward, a faint echo of the original flight. It can be distorted to all sorts of angles with one hand or two. But it can not be left to it’s own devices.

Griffin certainly put Humphries on a poster and a still image can conceal the act unfinished. But I’ve seen it. I’ve watched Griffin’s hand waving at the rim as it passed, headed back towards Earth. I’ll always know.

Ian Levy

Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh) writes about basketball from the wilds of Southern Vermont. In addition to his work for Hardwood Paroxysm, he is the man behind the curtain at Hickory-High and a contributor to Indy Cornrows, The Two Man Game and HoopChalk.

  • http://andthefoul.com @andthefoul

    In retrospect, and especially with the ability to rewind and watch in slow motion, the exhilarating feeling built-up during real-time cannot be replicated.

    I do agree that capturing the rim and pinning it into submission via contact would have elevated the act into a higher level of awe. However, I’m still impressed by the utter destruction of another being – a rather big man – that stands between take-off and “throw down.”

    In spite of our ever-growing expectations of an aerial Griffin, there is catharsis even if it lacks rim.