LOS ANGELES-Dunks won’t win any NBA titles. Spectacular plays don’t always translate into championship banners. Collecting an NBA Finals ring that blings with the word ‘champion’ requires playing defense. It equates to rebounding. The concept of playing fundamental basketball is a prerequisite to getting the job done and closing the deal on a successful season. The Los Angeles Clippers can do all of the above.
The Clippers are making a push this season as serious NBA title contenders. They are lot more than a collective bunch of dunking machines. The Clippers are athletic. They have speed to burn. And they certainly know how to have fun and entertain their fans with creative improvisational skills that people can only dream about.
The Clippers are just able to do the rudimentary things that come with playing basketball and turn it into a flair for the dramatic better than any other team in the league right now. Just ask the Detroit Pistons. For that matter, you might want to check in on the issue with Pistons’ guard Brandon Knight, who became the latest recipient of the ‘Lob City’ dunks marketing campaign.
Knight’s name will now live in basketball infamy after being put flat on his back courtesy of perhaps of the most spectacular NBA play this year. Center DeAndre Jordan put his stamp on the game and in Knight’s chest in the second quarter of the Clippers’ 129-97 victory with one of the all-time dunks that rocked the sellout crowd at Staples Center.
What looked like an already runaway game for the Clippers, Jordan caught an alley-oop pass from Chris Paul high above the basket with Knight foolishly going up to try to block the shot or deflect the pass. Knight got there a split-second too late. Jordan took Paul’s pass in mid-flight, elevated and threw down the down dunk with some terrible intentions, putting Knight on his rear end in the process. The Clippers feed off of creating electric energy for their crowd.
Jordan’s monster jam did more than pump up Clipper Nation, it also fired up his teammates.
“That was the fastest I’ve ever seen Caron move when he ran to me to give me a chest bump,” Jordan said after the game.
Jordan’s sensation throwdown would make Dr. J and all the other high-fliers proud, measuring a perfect 10 on the dunk meter-level. Jordan’s dun was so jaw-dropping that it outshined Paul’s dominant night of 20 points and 14 assists, and Blake Griffin’s 22-point, eight rebounds effort. Jordan, who finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds, said he didn’t know that Knight was in sight until he caught the high toss from Paul.
“It was really a good play,” Jordan said. “It was a great pass by Chris [Paul]. I promise you I didn’t see Brandon until I caught the ball…usually I get that dunk and nobody’s right there. This is the first time that somebody actually like tried to…I guess block it.”
A spectacular dunk always seems to energize that player who throws it down. Fans get delirious. Teammates go bonkers with excitement. It also can be a demoralizing to opponents. With the Clippers leading 55-36 in the second quarter, Jordan’s dunk zapped the life out of the Pistons for the remainder of the game.
“I wouldn’t say it takes the life out of our opponents,” Jordan said. “But it definitely gives us a little motivation, like a little push, to get the crowd into it, to get my teammates into it. It gets us riled up because we want to see more plays like that. So it gives us that motivation to go down there and get another stop, and come down and make plays like that.”
Jordan wasn’t the only person on the court to have a little bit of fun above the rim. Griffin took to the air for most of 22 points, etching his legend in dunkville lore with several mouth-gushing plays. However, the former NBA Dunk champion, no qualms about giving props to Jordan.
“That was the best dunk of the year,” Griffin said. “That’s the best dunk I’ve seen in person. It was a great read, a good play; great pass, even better finish.”