I see a lot of NBA games. I watched about 30-40 from press row last season, took in perhaps twice as many on television and even spent a week in Vegas watching the summer league. And yet, despite all of that, there are still players out there I know nothing about. Martin Gortat falls in that category.
Somewhere along the line, I got the impression Gortat was just another big stiff, the second coming of Primoz Brezec, if you will. I was wrong, and so were some of his teammates. As Kyle Hightower of the Orlando Sentinel explains, Gortat was boasting to his teammates after practice recently that he could dunk from the free-throw lines. Hilarity (and the smashing of stereotypes) ensued:
Doubtful of his skills, Pietrus bet Gortat an unspecified sum that he could, drawing a full post-practice audience that included several barefoot players and even Coach Stan Van Gundy.
With a full-court run-up, the 6-11 Gortat successfully pulled off the dunk twice after the first one was disputed by Pietrus, who questioned his takeoff point.
Said Gortat, as he walked into the locker room mobbed by teammates: "I'll take my payment in Euros."
Yeah, I didn't see that coming. I should have, though; that picture up top was taken two years ago when he was still playing in Germany. Don't underestimate big, white stiffs. (Except Brezec, of course. Underestimate away, his Dr. J impression won't embarrass any of us.)