Something very cool happened around the three minute mark of Saturday night’s game in Sacramento. After a missed hook shot from Harrison Barnes, Derrick White pushed the ball up the court and the offense started to get set. Kent Bazemore sprinted up on him from behind, so Derrick swung it over to Bryn Forbes who noticed that our tall-haired wunderkind Lonnie Walker IV was now all alone with a clear runway to the basket. Bryn quickly dumped the ball off to him and then, well, like I said...something very cool happened.
The Spurs have had decent dunkers on the roster before. I’m almost positive this is true. David Robinson threw down a 360 dunk back in the day. Manu had his fair share of epic slams (just ask Chris Bosh). Even DeMar DeRozan has pretty great ones from time to time. What about Derek Anderson? Does anyone remember Derek Anderson? I’ve never felt like he got his due as an all time Spurs dude who looked awesome throwing it down. Keep going on down line though: Kawhi, Robert Horry, Stephen Jackson, noted Dunk Contest winner Brent Barry...the list goes on. Every single one of these dudes could throw it down with the best of them. People can talk all they want about how “boring” the Spurs have been over the years, but real heads know this isn’t the case. The Spurs have as many dope highlights in their back catalog as the next franchise and to insinuate otherwise is ludicrous.
I think it’s safe to say that Lonnie Walker IV is chomping at the bit to take up the mantle of Next Great Spurs Dunker. All season long he’s been teasing his potential. On multiple occasions he’ll fly up at the rim and look like he might just keep soaring up into the rafters. His whole body flexes and expands and he holds the ball out at crazy angles like he knows exactly how cool its going to look if someone snaps a pic of him mid-flight. Almost every single time he’s attempted one of these world enders....well, something’s gone wrong. Maybe he gets nudged a little bit on takeoff and it sends the entire operation off course. Maybe a wily veteran says to himself, “nope, now way, I’m not getting dunked on by this kid with a goofy haircut” and just fully wraps him up. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched something that looks like it’s going to be my favorite play of the year end up with Lonnie whipping the ball into the back of the rim and having it careen off into space as a ref blows a whistle. The result is disheartening but the audacity, oh man. The audacity is truly thrilling.
You can feel him wanting to be great, wanting to make a statement and announce himself as a force to be reckoned with in the league. He’s being guided slowly and steadily by this coaching staff, and for the most part he seems willing to defer to the grander plan that Popovich has for him. Every once in a while though, hooooooo boy, every once in a while he just wants to let it rip and show what he can do and you can practically see his body light up when he’s presented with an open lane to the basket.
Ah, an open lane to the basket. There’s no rules about that situation, are there? You don’t have to think about making the extra pass or whether or not it’s within the flow of the offense. You don’t have to question whether or not you’re making the right call because, hey, who could possibly get mad at you about taking advantage of an open lane to the basket? You get to just let your instinct and athleticism take over and, honestly, it sounds like the most fun thing in the world.
At around the three minute mark of Saturday night’s game in Sacramento, Lonnie Walker IV was presented with an open lane to the basket, and then something very cool happened. He got a running start. He caught the ball in his right hand. He took one step, leapt up into the air, cocked the ball behind his head and unleashed a smooth, crisp, powerful dunk into the ether. It was effortlessly glorious and it put the Spurs up by 4. In fact, let’s watch it one more time.
A minute later, the Kings tied the game up at 78 and about thirty seconds after that, they took the lead.
By the end of the quarter they’d pushed that lead out to eleven.
Lonnie’s dunk was pretty great though.
- The Spurs are now 4.5 games back from the Memphis Grizzlies for a playoff spot. They’ve lost four straight, including one to the team directly ahead of them in the standings. They stood pat at the trade deadline and, as such, there is no cavalry on the way. They have one of the hardest remaining schedules in the league and the Rodeo Road Trip is only halfway done. I’m going to have to check my records on this one but, um, yea I’m pretty sure this is about as bleak as it’s been in quite a bit around these parts. I’m not going to link to the Lonnie dunk again, but just know that it’s still up there if you need it.
- I kinda understand DeMar DeRozan getting himself tossed from the game in the 4th quarter. I didn’t want to be watching it anymore at that point myself.
- I don’t want to complain about the refs so I won’t.
- TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: Hello darkness, my old friend....