As we enter the final weekend of the NBA season, there are only a few regular season awards yet to be wrapped up. The most notable is the MVP race, but you’re delusional if you think I’m going to write about that. What I’m here to talk about today is the Dunk of the Year. It’s not an official award yet, so consider this a submission for Adam Silver’s suggestion box.
While there’s still enough time left for another poster or alley-oop to garner our adoration, Ja Morant had been working on landing a 900 ever since he entered the league, and he finally completed one Jan. 14 against Jalen Smith and the Indiana Pacers.
There’s no other viable candidate. Like young Andy Reid at a Pass, Punt, and Kick competition, or a Bob Baffert horse at the Kentucky Derby, there’s them, and then there’s everybody else. After rewatching that 7 million times, I understand why the NBA wouldn’t want to hand out hardware for something that disrespectful.
NBA Twitter thanks you for your service, Jalen Smith
Smith, the Pacer on the receiving end of the baptism, is going to live on in infamy for the rest of his life. He can turn out to be a very successful and accomplished NBA player, maybe even be a role player on a finals team, but he joined Timofey Mosgov, Frédéric Weis, and Shawn Bradley on the Mount Rushmore of tall guys known more for being on the wrong side of a facial than for anything else they did on the court.
Maybe we can give the posterizee (?) the NBA equivalent of a Razzie award and an outsized cash prize compared with my make-believe Dunk of the Year winner. Smith contributed to the highlight as much as Morant. He could’ve easily made a business decision, and no one would’ve blamed him. But he didn’t. He did what big men get paid millions of dollars to do: Protect the rim. It may seem like an insult at first, but when you look at it subjectively, we’re saying, “Thank you, Jalen, for doing the dirty work. Your sacrifice has benefited the greater good, and for that, we salute you.”
A win-win-win situation for all parties (except Mac McClung)
It’s the very least we could do because this has been a passion project for Morant for some time now. He’s been hunting big game as evidenced by his many near misses that still get pulled out, clipped, and shared on social media, and finally got one. He deserves acknowledgment for his feat, and since a G Leaguer won the dunk contest, I vote we take the trophy away from Mac McClung and give it to Morant.
Shit, did I just solve the dunk contest? Take the four best in-game dunkers, compile their best finishes of the season, and then let the fans vote on their favorite highlight package. It reflects reality and would give LeBron James a workaround to say he won a dunk contest because he lacks the creativity to win one. Funny how Bron will unleash his imagination when it’s highly lucrative IP, but not when it’s something we actually want to see.
Alright, I’ve sufficiently gone off-topic to justify ending this. So, congratulations to Ja Morant and Jalen Smith for your roles in the NBA’s 2022-23 Dunk of the Year.