Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three Weeks In: In Thee Face!

We've reached the third week of the NBA season, and unlike college hoops, the offense is ahead of defense. A good portion of that has to do with the small yet significant fact that 97% of NBA players don't play defense. But at least at the early onset of this season, offensive players are taking defenders challenging at the rim a little more personally. They're attacking, and attacking with malice in their hearts. This begs the question: why is everybody dunking on everybody?

I understand that posters are a part of the game; and that they happen pretty much on a nightly basis. After all, there's a site dedicated to the meeting at the summit of the rim. But it just seems that these dunks are much more meaningful—more disrespectful. There are dunks, and then there are posters that are very rude and could end friendships. The early part of this season has had a lot of the latter—for reasons I cannot explain. I understood the mentality behind Melo's dunk because he's one of the few star players that has something to "prove." But the others...I just don't know what or why those deserved that emotional abuse. Except for...

Mr. Varejao aka "Sideshow Bob" aka "Carlito," I know why he deserved to be dunked on by His Wadeness. He is a notorious flopper and annoyance in the paint. He routinely violates two Hoop Commandments. He's seven feet tall and takes charges instead of using his length; and always tries to take said charges when defending a fast break. That was the one time he wanted to be tall and he failed because he isn't used to it. I have no sympathy for him. You are forever in the Wade highlight reel with your feet over your head and your ridiculous hair flopping around. Take that.

I'm going to set aside a paragraph for the man with the best disc jockey name that no one can use: DJ Mbenga. Fun fact: Mbenga is well-versed in the Martial Arts. Well, I guess self-defense doesn't aid one in interior defense because highflyers are challenging him above the rim with reckless abandon. Not-so-gradually, he's becoming the new Shawn Bradley. Or, he's Dikembe Mutombo without the resume to worry about being dunked on. One has to admire his determination, but also frown on his low success rate. You can even give him the benefit of the doubt and excuse the Rudy Gay & Blake Griffin posters; seeing those two have rocket boosters in their legs and rise well above the backboard square. However, where I draw the line is when DMV product Ty Lawson rose on DJ like it was an insult for Mbenga to do even be near the rim. It wasn't quite KJ on Olajuwon, but it had the "In De Face!" factor that Iverson on Camby lacks.

These dunks—from Melo to Will Bynum—are a collective statement that interior defense is not like it used to be. Someone put Hasheem Thabeet on alert.


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