A so­lil­o­quy for the slam dunk

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

When you were grow­ing up and mess­ing around with a bas­ket­ball in the back­yard — ev­ery­one has a hoop — what was the one thing ev­ery­one wanted to do?

That’s right. Ev­ery­one wanted to try and dunk a bas­ket­ball.

If you’re net was nailed to the front of a shed, chances are you hauled out any piece of equip­ment avail­able to you and tried to jump off that in an at­tempt to slam the ball through the net. Tires were pop­u­lar at my house partly be­cause my un­cle owns a truck­ing com­pany, but there were times we’d try jump­ing off each other’s back to try and fly for a cou­ple of brief sec­onds.

If some­one was lucky enough to have a net with an ad­justable hoop, dunk­ing was eas­ier. You’d just lower it to your height and get on with the 360 wind­mills.

Even with that abil­ity, you’d want to raise the net and try the ac­tual feat.

So, what is it about the at­trac­tion to the slam dunk?

We’re drawn to the slam dunk like moths to a flame. It has an al­lure that’s matched in North Amer­i­can sports only by bend­ing a soc­cer ball.

Even at the week­end war­rior level, a guy who can cram the ball through the hoop is revered for be­ing tall, hav­ing long arms and a bit of ath­letic abil­ity.

Play­ers are drawn to oth­ers who can dunk. Those guys, and ones who can shoot the lights out, are mag­nets for at­ten­tion.

It doesn’t mat­ter which level it hap­pens at. Dunk­ing is must watch.

Go to a high school game in St. John’s and watch for the guys who can throw it down. From the time they take a cou­ple of strides from the three-point line, rise up and cram it, eye­balls turn to them.

Peo­ple pay at­ten­tion when they have the ball in the lay-up line. Lit­tle kids scream ‘dunk’ when they start their ap­proach.

It’s like that at the MUN Field House and the Air Canada Cen­tre.

Pro­fes­sional ball play­ers more float than jump. Sure, the big­ger guys can get up there, but they don’t fly with ease some of their peers do.

It’s the clos­est hu­mans come to flight with­out the help of a para­chute or jump­ing from high el­e­va­tions.

The dunk is po­etry in mo­tion at the high­est de­gree. It’s like hav­ing an anti-grav­ity de­vice strapped around your waist.

The dunk is at­tain­able to only a few of us. That’s why it’s such an at­trac­tion. Just like not ev­ery­one can hit a soft­ball 450 feet or throw a foot­ball the length of the field.

Go­ing top cor­ner in hockey can be prac­ticed. So, can play­ing sec­ond base or drib­bling the ball.

You can’t prac­tice a slam dunk. You can ei­ther throw it down or you count. There’s no drill that al­lows you to jump higher.

It’s one of those sport­ing abil­i­ties that is a gift rather than one earned through hard work.

That’s what draws peo­ple to the slam dunk.

You can’t prac­tice a slam dunk. You can ei­ther throw it down or you count. There’s no drill that al­lows you jump higher.

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