For NBA fans, the heart of the playoffs is exactly where they want to be, with countless great individual and team matchups.
One matchup that would be particularly intriguing if this was 1997 is the current series between the Indiana Pacers and the New York Knicks. Alas, this is not 1997, and the rivalry isn’t the same as when Reggie Miller was shaking his Cheryls at Spike Lee. However, there between Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and the reanimated corpses of Jason Kidd/Marcus Camby versus Paul George, Roy Hibbert and a cyborg named Tyler Hansborough who just wants to learn what love is, it’s still a fascinating series.
And then we have wildcards, such as the mysterious Iman Shumpert
Shumpert is a second year player for New York who has steadily improved his offensive game since being drafted. Originally considered just a great athlete, he has become more of an all around, respectable scorer. But he’s still quite an athlete, being known to put together many high-flying YouTube videos per game.
But one dunk stands out as special for me, and I would love to break it down just a bit for you:
First of all, the buildup to the dunk: Baron Davis, an elderly man who was playing for the New York Retirement Community Recreational Knicks at the time drives to the lane, only to discover Kevin Garnett (wait, is EVERYBODY involved in this clip in the AARP?) waiting for him. A younger version of Baron wouldn’t have hesitated to fly into KG and attempt to score, but this is Old Baron, and he was getting over a herniated disk and male pattern baldness, so he reconsidered. Of course, part of Old Baron wasn’t paying attention, and still left his feet, leaving him almost stranded.
But in comes Shumpert. And oh, did he help Baron out.
Iman is streaking in JUST when he needs to and receives the Baron pass. He rises, KG wisely moves to avoid fouling the tattoos off of Shumpert, and Iman celebrates. End of story.
Or is it?
You probably missed the best part. It’s okay, I did too until my friend Brett said, “Wait, did you hear that?” and rewound the broadcast. Sure enough, right as Iman leaves his feet (around the 3 second mark in the video), you can clearly hear the floor mics pick up a beautifully understated phrase:
Now, the beauty of this is that there are two wonderful options as to who yelled this:
1. Another player lost his mind and yelled in the middle of a game.
In all of the action, somebody on the court lost track of Iman Shumpert. It likely happened as soon as Baron Davis left his feet and all hope was lost for the Knicks on this possession. Clearly, nobody was paying attention to Iman as he made his cut, otherwise he wouldn’t have such a clear path.
Naturally, as soon as he leaves his feet, in an either surprisingly joyful or surprisingly disgusting situation (depending on which team), some player on the court needed to announce what was happening, as if Iman was a hand grenade thrown onto the court (which totally happened once).
2. Iman himself coined the greatest slam dunk catchphrase in all of history.
He could have trash talked. He could have been completely silent. Heck, he could have given a soliloquy from Hamlet for all I care. None of that compares at all to the idea of somebody about to gather for a massive slam in a defenders face and having the wherewithall to scream out his own name. It’s the Leroy Jenkins of basketball moves, and I hope SO BADLY that this is what actually happened.
Regardless of all of this, though, it’s pretty clear that while we won’t see Charles Oakley and the Knicks throwing Reggie Miller to the ground anytime soon (can anybody name a mid-90’s Pacer other than Reggie?), the Knicks/Pacers matchup is still as entertaining as pro ball can get.
And Iman Shumpert sure is doing his part to make it fun to watch.