Tale of the Tape: LeBron James's Alley-Oop vs Blake Griffin's Facial (w/ VIDEO)
I wake up at about 4:15 a.m. each weekday morning to head to the studio and do my radio show on 1560 The Game (also, shameless plug, simulcast on television on Comcast 129), so many nights I go to bed before the sports world has shut it down for the evening.
My tool to catch up on things when I wake up, not surprisingly, is Twitter, so when one single event dominates my Twitter timeline for the better part of a couple hours of the timeline, I know I missed something.
Last night, I missed the Clippers' Blake Griffin's eviscerating dunk on the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins. Fortunately, between the magic of YouTube and an apparent bet in the ESPN newsroom on how many times they could show it in one SportsCenter broadcast, I got caught up fairly quickly.
In 2012, any occurrence like the Griffin dunk immediately sparks debate as to whether or not it was the "best dunk ever." (It's a side effect of the list-driven world in which we live, and I can't decide if I love it or hate it.) I countered the Griffin fawners with a Twitter argument (perhaps to poke the beast) that it wasn't even the best dunk in the NBA this week.
In my opinion, that honor belonged to LeBron James soaring over the Bulls' John Lucas III on an alley-oop in Sunday's game between Miami and Chicago.
I'll let you be the judge, and then I will break out my dunk judge's robe and give you the definitive scorecard on both.
Blake Griffin disembowels Kendrick Perkins
LeBron James hurdles John Lucas III
TALE OF THE TAPE
ELEVATION: Both guys make it look like they're playing the game on eight-foot rims in somebody's driveway as they are literally eye level with the rim at their peak. Small bonus point to James for getting to that height with so little effort that you can't believe he's at rim level until you see it in slow motion. SLIGHT EDGE: JAMES
OBSTACLE: This is the "fork in the road" category on the debate about this dunk -- which is more impressive? Holding a 300-pound man at bay with your off arm while spiking a ball through the rim, or literally flying over a nearly six-foot-tall human being?
I'm going merely by the frequency with which we see something resembling either of these. Fact is we see guys dunk on other guys defending them face-up fairly often (although admittedly not as forcefully as Griffin did to Perkins), but we rarely see a player literally jump OVER another player, starting on one side of him and landing on the other. (Gold standard for that is Vince Carter over Frederic Weis in the Olympics). And I don't know that we've ever seen a player hurdle another player while having to concentrate, catch and throw it down. Athletically, James is off the charts. EDGE: JAMES
FINISH: LeBron's actual finish was pretty standard fare, a one-handed flush with very little rim activity. Griffin's finish was so far away from the rim that it's not even listed as a dunk in the online play-by-play (It's listed as "Blake Griffin makes 3-foot 2 point shot." ). Griffin's finish, while including even less rim action than LeBron's, was so ferocious, loud and soul-crushing that you have to give him this category. EDGE: GRIFFIN
SOCIAL MEDIA UPROAR: LeBron's dunk got decent play on Twitter at the time, but probably didn't get maximum push because it happened on a Sunday afternoon where fewer people were probably in front of televisions and thinking about social media. (You know, with it being the Sabbath and all.) Griffin's dunk, on the other hand, nearly crashed Twitter (my timeline was awash in Griffin tweets when I woke up Tuesday morning) and in Houston, at least, both Griffin and Perkins were still trending as of 3:00 p.m. today. EDGE: GRIFFIN
SPORTSCENTER BACKLASH MITIGATION: Sports television consumers these days fall into two categories -- they are either sheep who believe everything ESPN tells them, or they are so jaded about ESPN that they hate being told what to like and dislike. Myself, I fall into the second category, so when ESPN showed the Griffin dunk literally 20 times in a 90-second span (not hyperbole) on SportsCenter, there was a big part of me that just refused to be told what to like and dislike. I dislike LeBron's act, but I dislike being told to like Griffin's dunk even more. This category is me basically admitting that my issues with authority are factoring into my grade. Yes, it's a weakness. EDGE: JAMES
CONCLUSION The Griffin dunk deserves its props for igniting "best dunk ever" conversation (admittedly, a fire onto which ESPN tossed a barrel of gasoline) and for forcing us to go retrieve Kendrick Perkins's dental records to identify his charred remains. However, for me, it comes down to LeBron actually having the coordination and athleticism to not only leap over another human being, but also catch a pass and throw it down all in one motion. Amazing.
I've made my decision, and I'm taking my accolades to South Beach.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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