I didn’t believe in superheroes until LeBron James came along, because — aside from recently bolstering his bid for induction into the All-Time Human Hall of Fame — LeBron James is really good at basketball. He gains a cult-like following because he does things like effortlessly dunking on Kevin Garnett to remind us that he is, indeed, a superior being. With mouths agape and one Kevin Harlan assisting our comprehension of the insanity with his “with no regard for human life” call, we feel empowered, because it happened. A human did that. So, surely, there’s an alternate universe where we can do it, too.
Caught on the other end of that display was Kevin Garnett. Future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Which is funny, because we’ve all been Kevin Garnett.
I’ve been Kevin Garnett. A lot. Just this past month I’ve been yammed on, over and over, by strangers and familiar faces with a tenacity unseen since 2008 bedroom Nerf Hoop showdowns. It stinks. It also makes the response (the counter-attack) all that much sweeter. Because, to live a high-flying existence, you should — you need — to dunk on folks.
Hold your own dunk contest, participated in by you, judged by you, and announced by you. Visualize your own posterization. Think it into existence. Win emotionally over your arena. Where to start? Some inspiration:
DUNK: Zach LaVine, New York City, 2015
Metaphorically suitable for: rewarding job offer, growth period, impending come-up
We begin not with an in-your-face jam but with a smooth maneuver. LaVine’s dunk is marked by grace, his 6’5” figure unforcefully gliding its way through the air. Worth noting is the innovation in spite of his late entry into dunk lineage; yearly complaints of a stale, worn-out dunking canon have forced each year’s crop of dunkers to get more creative with their performances. This, however, remains fresh. We see this then as mental motivation for life adaptation and positive self-evolution. When you want to remain graceful amidst any sort of adversity, be Zach LaVine. Go behind the back and look beautiful doing so. Now you see me, now you don’t. Look what I can do with me.
DUNK: Julius Erving, Philadelphia, 1983
Metaphorically suitable for: reunions, tough conversations, wholesome closure
This “rock-the-baby” dunk is just ridiculous. It took place in a real live game with other people who are also 6’7,” and also have biceps the size of my head, and oh my shit, the disrespect. It’s legendary. Dr. J’s blunt force is complemented by a baby, his baby, and you too, can carry your baby so triumphantly. Whether that baby is a relationship you’d like to maintain, or a connection you want to reestablish (or bring to a peaceful end), dunk with it, or all over it. The slam speaks for itself; it’s the most effective way to show that you know your worth.
DUNK: Vince Carter, Oakland, 2000
Metaphorically suitable for: getting in their business, staying in their business, a proverbial middle finger
The best part about this jam is that, as Vince Carter was preparing for the contest, he thought, at some point, “What if I just jump so damn high I can hang my damn elbow in the basket for a while?” He then he did exactly that, and, save for the reactionary gasps of astonishment, we instantly felt like an inferior breed upon watching it. This is disrespect of the highest order, and we should take notes. Go higher, high enough even so you can laugh down on those still abiding by the laws of gravity. Be petty enough to hang on the basket for a while and make jaws drop in awe of unfuckwithability.
DUNK: Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1988
Metaphorically suitable for: unequivocal personal triumph
When MJ flew through another galaxy (a full 15.09 feet in the air, to be precise) en route to NBA legend, it wasn’t his seemingly impossible airtime that was most important, nor was it the fact that he did so in front of 18,000 adoring hometown Chicago fans. Rather, it was Jordan’s tongue wag (zoom) that made the real statement. The wag teases silent defiance, as if he was internally laughing about his upcoming stunt on the world. So take a full-court running start like Mike, especially if it means you’re flying 15 feet over fools. Wag some tongue and warn them that you now run the league — er, their world — and will control everything they love for the next 10 years. Heartless is good and heartless is healthy.
That being said, you won’t automatically be Michael, because no one wins life upon first launch from the free throw line. You’ll likely be LeBron’s Kevin Garnett first, and that’s OK. Just remember: When you finally get your Vince-hey-just-hold-my-balls-for-a-quick-sec Carter moment and dunk the entire country of France all the way back to 1789, Garnett will be there to cheer you on.