With the Clippers in town Friday night at American Airlines Center, there is a lot of hype surrounding Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are worth the price of admission and are guaranteed to throw down a dunk or two that will prompt both “ooh”s and “aah”s and at least one fan playfully shoving the stranger next to him in complete overreaction.
The Mavs probably won’t dunk.
Maybe Vince Carter jumps in the time machine or perhaps Brandan Wright times an offensive rebound just right, but the Mavs aren’t built above the rim. And you know what? They never have been.
I attended the Mavs’ first game at Reunion Arena in 1980 and covered them on a daily basis for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during the mid-to-late-‘90s and, trust me, it’s not easy to name the memorable dunks in franchise history. Not because YouTube wasn’t around for Abdul Jeelani, but because the Mavs have just never had a supreme dunker or a team that excelled in the air.
The Mavs and dunking go together about as well as a chocolate-chip cookie dunked in … sour cream.
Shawn Bradley was involved in many memorable dunks, but posterized as the dunkee not the dunker. Dallas’ original All-Star center, James Donaldson, was more about finesse and footwork, rarely dunking. And who can forget Tony Dumas’ infamous Oh-for-3 appearance in the 1995 All-Star Slam Dunk Contest in Phoenix?
Carter had a nasty slam over Emeka Okafor. Michael Finley slammed in Karl Malone’s face in the ’01 playoffs, and in Yao Ming’s 7-foot-5 mug a couple years later. And Tyson Chandler’s two-handed flush off of Jason Kidd’s lob prompted Dirk Nowitzki’s iconic “Take dat wich u!” exclamation.
But it’s fitting that a franchise not known for dunking got its memorable slam from Nowitzki, a player with over 25,000 points and only about 25 flushes. Game 5 of the deadlocked 2011 NBA Finals between the Mavs and Heat was tied at 100-100. With 2:45 remaining Dirk took a pass in the left corner, aggressively dribbled baseline past Chris Bosh and dunked over Mike Miller. AAC went nuts, and the Mavs never relinquished that lead.
So enjoy Los Angeles’ dunks tonight. But root for the home team merely shooting layups.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.