It seems like every media type with a microphone or a computer made a big deal out of Tuesday’s highlight real dunk Memphis guard Ja Morant perfected over Minnesota’s Malik Beasley.
But did those same folks happen to see last Thursday’s dunk that Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie perfected over Utah’s Rudy Gobert? Both dunks were impressive in their own right, but the differences are as clear as night and day.
Unfortunately for Beasley, he stood near the basket while trying to take a charge from Morant. It was akin to when a player — during the Slam Dunk Contest on NBA All-Star Weekend — would bring someone onto the court so he can jump over them and dunk the ball. Indeed, Beasley made absolutely no attempt to try and block Morant’s dunk attempt.
However, things were totally different in Dinwiddie versus Gobert.
A board certified shot-blocker who was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, ’19 and ’21, Gobert chews up would-be dunkers and spits them out for a living. That’s his calling card, so players tend to not even challenge him, because they know it’s not going to end very well.
So when Dinwiddie took off on the runway and made a business decision to challenge this 7-1, 258-pound giant of a man who has a 7-9 wing span, that was must-see TV.
“Oh, I saw him,” Dinwiddie said. “He’s the biggest thing on the court. Of course, I saw him. That’s why I went up like that.
“Normally I tend to lay the ball up. That’s what I’ve done most of my career — a lot of different quick finishes. But when you have a shot-blocker down there, you’ve got to challenge him.”
The dunks by Dinwiddie and Morant can be pulled up on various social media platforms or Internet sites, so everyone can analysis and decide who dunked it better.
“Spencer is my guy, he’s on my team, so I’m going to hype up his dunk for sure,” Mavs center Maxi Kleber said. “On Morant’s dunk, obviously it was a freak play. His athleticism is unbelievable.
“But I think Beasley tried to take a charge versus a shot-blocker (like Gobert) trying to contest it. I think both did a great job on their determination to go to the basket, but I’m going to go with my guy Spencer.”
Mavs center Dwight Powell said of Dinwiddie’s dunk: “It was a big play, a big momentum play. (Gobert is) a great shot-blocker, so you’ve got to pick your spots.
“Spencer saw an opportunity and he felt bouncy, so he took advantage.”
As he prepares for Game 6 against the Jazz at 9 p.m. Thursday in Utah, coach Jason Kidd said of Morant’s dunk: “That’s how I used to jump. What he’s doing is incredible.
“But they’re both incredible dunks.”
Beasley, who matched his career-high with 0.2 blocks per game this season, didn’t even attempt to block Morant’s dunk. Perhaps that’s why even Morant didn’t seem all that thrilled about dunking over Beasley, who is a 6-4, 187-pound shooting guard.
“I really wasn’t excited about the dunk,” Morant told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “It was a little guard (in Beasley). That’s pretty easy.
“It definitely ignited the crowd and gave us some energy. I was just being very aggressive.”
Dinwiddie also was being very aggressive against Gobert, who led the NBA in blocks in the 2016-’17 season with 2.6 per game, and has averaged at least two blocks per contest in each of the last eight years. In essence, Gobert is one of the most feared intimidators in the history of the NBA.
Dinwiddie, however, exhibited no fear in taking on that challenge.
“It was a transition break,” Dinwiddie said. “JB (Jalen Brunson) found me and (the Jazz) were just kind of in-between getting their matchups right and I just attacked the lane and Gobert was a little late.
“Obviously, he’s a phenomenal shot-blocker.”
So, where does that dunk rank among the dunks Dinwiddie has thrown down over the course of his playing career?
“Just because of who (Gobert) is, that would be the best one, in terms of the NBA, too,” Dinwiddie said. “I had a pretty good dunk against Stanford in college that I thought was on Dwight.
“But I went back and watched it and it was Josh Huestis. Dwight was in the play, but it wasn’t really on him.”
After Dinwiddie’s posterizing dunk on Gobert silenced the sellout crowd at Vivint Arena, he did some good-natured trash talking with teammate Luka Doncic.
“I was talking trash because Luka was talking about his dunk in Denver before I got here (in a Feb. 10 trade with Washington Wizards),” Dinwiddie said. “But I told him he didn’t dunk on any shot-blocker, so it didn’t count the same.”
That sound like the same language Morant was speaking.
“If you’re in that gym with the team and see that, just because of the freak bounce that he has, it’s amazing to watch,” Kleber said of Morant’s dunk. “But I think for a lot of people, with Spencer, it was unexpected. Plus, it was on Gobert.
“So, watching (Dinwiddie’s dunk), I was on the court and I was like, ‘Whoa! I did not expect this.’ It was crazy to watch. But obviously both amazing dunks.”
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