1. Most dunks are built on little fuckups. The worst thing you can do on a basketball court is leave the rim open, edge too far away from defending a shot that is worth 1.99 points per possession to cover some .84 PPP 17-footer bullshit or whatever. Even surrendering a corner three, the king of post-modern high value shots, is, in the course of regular play, better than letting your opponent wrap his greedy fingers around the rim.
In this analysis, getting dunked on while managing to do whatever you can to prevent a clean two, has a kind of honor that watching your opponent breeze by clean simply can’t match. The entire world has crumbled around you, and you tried something, ANYTHING, to recover, and, whoops, your brother dunked on you, Boogie got you again, Giannis turned you into jam, but at least you did SOMETHING to slide the probabilities back, made a stand against the inevitable. It is almost a shame that players who get dunked on get more shit than the cowards who chicken out and let it happen.
Sitting, diametrically opposed to these sad, noble, dunked-on heroes are the players who fuck up so badly they turn (defensive) success into failure—who turn 0.00 PPP into 2.00 without even seeming to think about it, through the pure force of executing a colossal fuckup.
2. I litter my writing with spelling errors that my editors have to fix with rolled eyes, I get on buses going the wrong direction, I ride my bike into wet concrete, flip over my handlebars and find myself with glasses plowed into my forehead, a big ass fucking medical bill I can’t really pay and a scar sitting about my nose that just, like, will never go away. I’ve forgotten lines in plays, broken my foot while doing some high stepping-ass dance move that I obviously couldn’t do on a compromised ankle, I’ve basically shoved a guy on a fast break in a pickup game because I forgot how to act like a normal human being in a gym. I continually sleep with my phone near me, even though I know the best way for me to blow an hour of my day flipping through Twitter is to stick that dumb thing in my hand while I lie in repose on eight inches of foam. Over and over, fuckups come raging out of my mind and body, again and again, no matter how hard I try to keep them at bay.
3. Here is Tony Snell executing an unimaginably bad fuck up. It’s such a stupid play that the Raptors twitter feed, where I would normally go to find a clip of a dunk I am writing about, only posted a cursory GIF of the the dunk, with a compliment to Delon Wright’s heads-uppedness:
With all due respect to Delon, a fine professional player, this play just could not possibly have less to do with him, no matter how turned up his head happened to be. Nah, this is all on Tony Snell, one of the NBA’s premiere low-key shitty players, the kind of dude who stays afloat through pure obstinance, effort, and respect to authority, but who, left to his own devices, will gladly put up a goddamn 6 PER season while drifting along, staring ahead while his team wins or doesn’t. Long arms, basic defensive maintenance skills, and never falling out of shape get you surprisingly far in the NBA, but they don’t keep you from doing truly embarrassing shit from time to time.
4. And look, don’t get me wrong, I am not the person who should judge. I forget how to be a boyfriend and say weird shit about my lovely girlfriend that I THINK are compliments and just, like, totally aren’t, at least three times a week.
(Also, I am terrible at basketball.)
But like…what are you doing, dude? Why is Snell sloughing off Giannis, the NBA’s premiere fast break point man in favor of tossing the ball to Khris Middleton—a fine player who is not fucking Giannis Antetokounmpo—square through the personal space of an opposing defender? You can smell farts coming off his brain as his arms wobble weakly, trying in vain to craft a story that will absolve him of SOME of the blame, here. He fails, because not even the human brain can weave a lie about itself that obscene. He weakly unleashes an “aww darn” clap on the sideline as Jason Kidd takes a timeout, presumably to tell his players to not throw the ball to opponents.
5. But the real star, here, is Middleton, completely dumbfounded by this chain of events. Kris has built his career on heady competence, breaking and bleeding to become a functional NBA role player-wing, the kind of boring shit competence that makes you fabulously wealthy for the rest of your life without anyone really knowing who you are. He goes straight from gingerly high-stepping, trying to see how the break is going to unfold, to stopping dead in his fucking tracks, so stunned by how completely stupid this play turned out to be that his arms just kind of sway back and forth, drifting on the motion of the fast break Snell has managed to scuttle before it even happens.
Those swinging arms are the pure sports personification of the person watching me or you or anyone fuck up. It is the nurse putting fucking stitches in my head, it is my girlfriend’s mouth splaying open after I leave her alone at a party for someone she doesn’t know to talk her ear off about something she doesn’t care about, it is my editor rolling his eyes over a blatant misspelling of whatever ten dollar word I’m trying to shoehorn into a basketball blog, trying to slice 200 bloating words out of the self-same blog, it’s me, myself, reading about the President of the United States shitting all over American foreign policy. Everything stops and you just drift, stunned by the nonsense you’ve found yourself involved in.