On the John
A spec-tac-ulah move, by Derrick Rose
Originally published on ReadJack, November 5, 2010
Moved to now defunct Sports Blog Network November 6, 2010
With just over three minutes to play in the first quarter of yesterday’s Bulls-Knicks game, Derrick Rose took Toney Douglas off the dribble from the three-point line, exploded from the left toward the basket, took two dribbles, leapt from the lane, cocked the ball with two hands faaaaaar back over his head, and tomahawked the ball through the bucket in front of Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari.
That’s when the yelling started.
The United Center crowd made this wonderful sound, like a giant wave hitting a boulder and then splashing up, followed by gasping applause.
Marv Albert nearly fainted: “…he’s been a valuable guy off the bench. The Knicks are up – WHOA! Derrick ROSE with the em-PHATIC stuff!”
Steve Kerr chuckled uncontrollably, adding: “Unbelievable! Off two feet, puts it behind his head… Derrick Rose gets to the rim in one of the great dunks you will see all year.”
My hoops buddy and Bulls reporter Chris Cason texted me from the U.C.: “Loudest dunk I’ve heard here. EVER.”
Loudest dunk. LOUDEST. It was the ball slamming through the net, Rose’s hands striking the rim, Rose’s feet hitting the floor, and then the yelling…
I was sitting in my girlfriend’s dining room, watching the game online as she read. We’ve been dating for a month, and she’s growing suspicious of my sports-provoked verbal habits. Why does he squeak and hoot every time one of the men in the red and white shirts does something better than the men in the blue and orange shirts? she seems to be wondering. She’d already heard some mini-Jack Sports Noises when I cheered Taj Gibson for scoring seven of the team’s first eight points. But she was not prepared for this.
“AAAHHHH-ZZZJJJWHOA-LY SHEEEE!” I said.
“What was that?” Carrie asked.
“OHMYGOODLORDYLOWZA!” I answered. As Marv and Steve swooned, I waved her over to watch the replay.
She laughed: “Is this something I have to worry about?”
“Wow,” I said. “Wow.”
My pulse returned as the quarter ended. In the peace of the game break, I scanned online for an early posting. “Ah!” I announced, victorious. “This is why I love YouTube.” I watched the replay again and again: Rose’s calm eye into his impossible first step, into the dunk, into the yelling, all capped with small hoots and giggles from your loyal narrator.
“Are you going to be doing this during the Bears game on Sunday?”
“Yeah,” I said, “but not as much. It’s really just basketball. There’s a natural drama to football, baseball, hockey, soccer/football… any sport. There’s the drama within the game, and then the total narrative of which the individual game is a part. The more important the game, the louder my noises. But the moments of sudden silliness arrive with much greater frequency in hoops.
“It’s because of the creativity and spontaneity. You’ll never see Peyton Manning do a 360 before launching a pass, or Albert Pujols change his bat grip as a 100 mile per hour fastball approaches just because he’s ‘feeling it.’ Basketball has all of the narrative drama of the other sports, but each regular act can be accomplished with some mark of personal pizzazz, like Sam Perkins shooting threes without jumping or Jason Williams bouncing a pass off his elbow or Scottie using a one-handed ball-fake on a 3-on-1 before dunking.
“Here’s what was so cool about that Rose dunk.” I minimize the game screen, show Carrie the Rose dunk on Goran Dragic from last season as background material, and then take her frame-by-frame through the dunk on the Knicks. “See, the Dragic dunk was amazing, but the Bulls were on a breakaway and Rose was a step ahead of the nearest defender. Still incredible, but look at how this one takes that excitement to the next level.
“First, it starts in a regular half-court set. Rose is setting things up, and right here,” – I pause at the start of the clip – “there’s nothing to indicate that Rose is about to take off. Look: he’s got all five New York defenders on his side of the court, with three dudes under the basket. Right now, only lifelong students of the game – and I mean, dudes with PhD’s, not, say, dedicated undergrads like myself – think Rose is doing anything other than setting up the offense.
“Then he takes this first step. Now our heartbeats quicken. But these defenders step over, so now everyone is thinking that maybe he’ll drive and dish to Gibson over here, or kick it to Bogans up top.
“Now he begins his launch, but he still has Douglas right over his head and Gallinari leaping to defend. Everyone watching is thinking of the Dragic dunk, but kind of wondering how he will pull this one off with defenders directly between him and the basket.
“Now he’s cocked, but the ball is soooooo much further from the rim than it was on the Dragic dunk, so now we’re all waiting for the ball to be whipped forward. We know, right at this point, that if he converts this dunk, it will be way cooler than the Dragic dunk because of the distance between the back of his head and the rim.
“Plus it’s Bulls-Knicks, so now everyone is thinking of Scottie’s dunk on Ewing, and Jordan’s twisty baseline dunk on Ewing, and the Starks dunk, and maybe even Ben Gordon’s MLK game-winner. And Marv is announcing, so we’ve got every great Bulls-Knicks call he’s ever made…”
I hit play, and Rose’s arms whip forward. The hands-ball-rim pop echoes, and I pause as he lands. “And now the play is over, and it was all of those thoughts, questions, and memories flashing simultaneously in the minds of 20,000 fans at the U.C., plus players, announcers, employees, plus EVERYONE watching on television – you know, we all experienced that together – and it was that progression that led to that noise, what Chris called the loudest dunk he’d ever heard. Nothing like it in any other sport.”
Jack M Silverstein is a freelance writer covering music, sports, and community in Chicago. His first book, “Our President,” is available at Amazon.com. Say hey at twitter/readjack or facebook/readjack.
More on Rose and dunking…
January 26, 2010: The sound of greatness [the ROSE on DRAGIC dunk]
February 25, 2006: The art of the dunk
THE BULLS-KNICKS DUNKS…
Jordan baseline on Ewing in ’91 playoffs
Starks baseline on Jordan/Grant in ’93 playoffs
The Pippen-Ewing dunk in ’94 playoffs
And, because you deserve it…