The Arizona Republic’s Suns beat reporter Duane Rankin’s Zapruder film angle provided an even more intimate view of Gordon’s elevation and Shamet’s soul being ejected from his body. Eulogies were being written. Family watching averted their eyes and headstones were being photoshopped.

In Shamet’s haze, he must have forgotten that Gordon is probably the greatest dunker never to win a Slam Dunk Contest, and had already registered six dunks on the night and had a head of steam barreling Shamet’s way in Denver’s thin air.


Shamans, priests, and theologists alike have hypothesized about where we go during brushes with death or after our ultimate demise. Did Landry Shamet see family? The Pearly gates? Did they have a warm glow or did he experience a piercing flare of light? Was there a waiting room in the astral plane? Nothingness? Only Shamet knows and he’s not telling. Saturday was the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and a moment he’ll want to forget. Unfortunately, every Christmas Day from now until the end of time, it will be replayed over and over.

We won’t know how much of Shamet spiritually or physically was left on Denver’s Ball Arena floor until the Suns step on it again on Tuesday. Every posterization extracts a small percentage of hooper’s being, self-confidence, and will to hoop. Meanwhile, Gordon still roams free.


In its totality, Gordon’s bucket of the year and his 28 points were an emphatic way for Denver to mark its arrival as the preeminent force in the Western Conference nearly midway through this season. Jokić had a 41-point triple-double blotted out by Gordon’s slam over Shamet, but he appears to be en route to his third-consecutive MVP trophy. Denver’s overtime victory put it a game over the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies for first place in the West while Phoenix dropped three games back. Shamet may not be the last victim of this emerging Nuggets juggernaut.