Saturday night, Andrew Wiggins dunked on JaVale McGee. It was an exciting dunk and a fun dunk, as person-on-person dunks tend to be. This is it:
See? An exciting dunk and a fun dunk. Andrew Wiggins very definitely don killuminati’d JaVale McGee. But here’s a question for you: Was it a disrespectful dunk? And if so, how disrespectful? And I don’t mean disrespectful like, “Hey, you disrespected my mother when you said unkind things about her and now I have a real problem with you.” I mean disrespectful like, “HAHAHAHAHAHA YOOOOOOOOOOO HE JUST DISRESPECTED THE FUCK OUTTA YOU HAHAHA but it’s fine, nobody needs to be shot or stabbed.” That kind of disrespectful. The fun kind of disrespectful.
To figure out exactly how disrespectful a dunk was, we have to look at six different things. We have to look at:
Category 1 — How difficult and/or impressive was the dunk?
The more difficult a dunk is, the more disrespectful it is. Think on it like this: Imagine a player has a breakaway-dunk opportunity. If that player just jumps up and does a normal dunk, then fine. It’s whatever. The dunk simply disappears into the ether forever. But if that same player throws an alley-oop to himself off the backboard on the breakaway, well, now you’ve got several players on the other team looking at him like, “This motherfucker.”
Category 2 — What did the dunker do immediately after the dunk?
Did he do nothing? Did he sneer? Did he cuss to himself? Did he yell at the sky? Did he yell at the player he just dunked on? Did he run up into the stands and yell in the face of the mother of the player he just dunked on?
Category 3 — How hard did the defender try to stop it?
The harder the defender tries to stop the dunk, the more disrespectful the dunk is if the dunk is completed. If the dunker jumps and the defender just sort of slides out of the way, then it ain’t much of anything. But if the dunker jumps and then the defender jumps and they collide in the air and then the dunker makes him disappear in front of a stadium full of people, then that’s something.
Category 4 — Is there a backstory between the dunker and the dunkee?
This one is the seasoning in the disrespectful dunk jambalaya. A strong backstory turns a great moment into an iconic one. Remember when the Mavs beat the Heat in the 2011 Finals? There was a thing during that series where, after Game 3, Jason Terry said LeBron James wasn’t going to be able to guard him very well, and then somehow that shit ended up coming true. The Heat lost the series after having been up 2–1 and Terry, because he is wonderful, never stopped talking about it. But so two seasons later, when Terry was playing for the Celtics, he ended up getting obliterated by a LeBron dunk, and the dunk itself was great, but because of that history between them, it turned it into a CONTINENT-SHATTERING dunk. Backstory is important.
Category 5 — Did the dunk go straight through the rim or did it rattle around a little?
It’s a dumb thing, sure, but it matters.
Category 6 — How did everyone who was not directly involved in the dunk react?
Did the crowd go yo-yo? Did the defender’s teammates laugh at him? Did one of the dunker’s teammates do something to help coronate the dunk? (My all-time favorite example of this move is when Jordan dunked over Tree Rollins and Charles Oakley gave Rollins a “Yeah, bitch” finger point in his face.) Did the coach have a heart attack? The more people who react to the dunk, the more disrespectful it was.
So, the Wiggins dunk again:
Let’s measure the disrespectfulness of this dunk, along with that of four other big dunks from the season so far just to provide context. If we assign a standard set of values to each category, that’ll help us sort things academically and mathematically, which is usually the best way to handle these types of situations. Let’s go with 20 available percentage points for Categories 1, 2, 3, and 6; 15 available percentage points for Category 4; and 5 available percentage points for Category 5. That gives dunkers a chance to earn 100 disrespect percentage points.
Category 1 — Difficulty/impressiveness: The dunk is obviously very athletically impressive. And the fact that Wiggins was willing to dislocate his own shoulder so as to help extend the ball outside of McGee’s reach is to be commended. So he scores well for Category 1. Let’s call it 13/20.
Category 2 — Dunker’s reaction: His post-dunk celebration was mostly just him looking at McGee for a second, which is an OK reaction but not a very memorable one. (If you’re going to do the staredown, you have to hold it for as long as possible. The longer the dunker stares at the dunkee, the more disrespectful it is, obviously. I watched a clip of an old Sonics game and Xavier McDaniel dunked on a guy and then stared at him for two weeks straight.) Wiggins scores low for Category 2. 5/20.
Category 3 — Defense: JaVale gave a 60 percent effort to try to stop Wiggins, so Wiggins gets 60 percent of the allowable points here. 12/20.
Category 4 — Backstory: There’s no real backstory between Wiggins and McGee that I could dig up, so Category 4 is a bust. 0/15.
Category 5 — Cleanliness of the dunk: The dunk splashed straight through the rim, so he gets all the points available here. 5/5.
Category 6 — Reaction of those not directly involved with the dunk: The crowd reacts loudly, which is great because it’s an away game for Wiggins and so of course that matters. Most of the other players on the court, though, are fairly unimpressed, which is weird considering they just saw a man get dunked into another time period. Klay Thompson (sitting on the bench) looks to be the only one who acknowledges what just happened (he discreetly covers his mouth with a towel in embarrassment for McGee). So let’s call that worth less than a third of the total percentage points available there. 6/20.
Total: The Wiggins dunk on JaVale McGee was 41 percent disrespectful to McGee.
That’s Zach LaVine turning all of the Alex Len’s vertebrae to mush. Let’s grade it.
Category 1 — Difficulty/impressiveness: Zach always dunks it like the school he went to as a child was just like, “Nah, fuck teaching kids about gravity,” so he scores very high for Category 1. Let’s call this 17/20.
Category 2 — Dunker’s reaction: His post-dunk staredown is fantastic because a staredown is always very effective when you’re standing still. (Notice on the Wiggins dunk how Wiggins does his tiny stare as he’s already turning to run back down court.) LaVine gets a big 14/20 for Category 2.
Category 3 — Defense: Len really stepped all the way in front of that train to try to stop it, so LaVine scores strong for Category 3 too. Let’s go with 15/20.
Category 4 — Backstory: I don’t know of an immediate backstory between LaVine and Len, but I figure there has to be a very serious one because of how LaVine tried to take Len’s head off (maybe Len set the LaVine family home on fire or some shit like that?). I’ma give him a 10/15 for Category 4 just out of caution.
Category 5 — Cleanliness of the dunk: The ball touches a tiny amount of the rim, so he gets docked a point here. 4/5.
Category 6 — Reaction of those not directly involved with the dunk: The crowd reacts loudly, which, same for Wiggins, is impressive because it was an away game. Unlike Wiggins, though, we see players on the court respond to the dunk, my favorite being Wiggins himself (at the bottom of the screen), who pretends to gets knocked sideways by the dunk’s sonic energy. Fair score here seems like an 8/20.
Total: The LaVine dunk on Alex Len was 68 percent disrespectful to Len.
That’s Lance Stephenson, who is not currently in the NBA but is still in my heart, FYI, dunking on Kenneth Faried, who has done more than anyone in history to help turn “Kenneth” into a cool name.
Category 1 — Difficulty/impressiveness: Scoring this one is kind of tricky, because this doesn’t appear to be a super-hard-to-do dunk, but it’s Lance Stephenson who’s doing it, and everything is hard for Lance Stephenson to do. (I want you to know that I mean this in the most flattering way possible. There are very few players in the league I root for harder than I root for Lance Stephenson.) We can split the difference. 10/20.
Category 2 — Dunker’s reaction: Stephenson dunks, realizes that he has successfully done so, and he not only begins yelling at the planet before he’s landed back down on the ground, but he also tries to rip the rim off the backboard. I love it. I love Lance Stephenson. I’m going to keep saying that until I die. 13/20.
Category 3 — Defense: Stephenson caught Faried before Faried had a chance to really plot out how to stop the dunk. Faried was able to bang bodies with him, but he wasn’t really able to challenge Stephenson like he usually does. Were it a true Faried block attempt, this score would’ve been something close to 15/20, possibly 16/20. Given that it wasn’t that, though, I feel comfortable assigning an 11/20 here.
Category 4 — Backstory: Lance Stephenson has been warring with everyone not named Lance Stephenson for just about the entirety of his career. I have no doubt that as Stephenson was rising to dunk he saw that he was going to do so on Kenneth Faried, with whom he has no history at all, and he said something to himself like, “I finally got you, you son of a bitch.” 5/15.
Category 5 — Cleanliness of the dunk: The rattle-iest of all the dunks we’ve seen here. 1/5.
Category 6 — Reaction of those not directly involved with the dunk: Tim Frazier gives Lance Stephenson a hearty shove to the chest following the dunk, and that was a very dangerous move because I’m pretty sure Lance Stephenson has no idea who is or is not on his team half of the time, so there was a chance Stephenson could’ve taken it as a declaration of war. That being the case, I think we should go with a 9/20, because nobody else on the court or in the arena seemed all that impressed.
Total: The Lance Stephenson dunk on Kenneth Faried was 49 percent disrespectful to Faried.
That’s DeMar DeRozan turning Tristan Thompson into a pile of rubble and ash.
Category 1 — Difficulty/impressiveness: There are only a handful of players in the league who can get into the second and third layers of the atmosphere with a single jump the way DeRozan can. I can’t imagine the fear, the horror, the dread, the existential crisis that Tristan Thompson experienced when he realized that DeRozan had turned the corner and was hurtling down the lane to meet him at the top of the backboard. Big points here for DeRozan persuading his body to hover long enough above Thompson’s to allow him to cock the ball all the way back to two days before they even played this game. 17/20.
Category 2 — Dunker’s reaction: DeRozan has never really been one for the bluster. He takes half a beat here to admire his own brilliance, snarls a bit, then heads back up the court. I respect his professionalism. Unfortunately, the tally does not. Low points here. 4/20.
Category 3 — Defense: Tristan Thompson is not afraid. He realized he was going to get destroyed, and he absolutely had enough time to move out of the way, but he didn’t. He simply put his forearm out to try to slow DeRozan, raised his right hand in a mock attempt to block it, jumped, then closed his eyes and accepted DeMar DeRozan as his lord and savior. 12/20. (I always love when a guy is willing to jump in front of a dunker to try to stop him. It’s one of those things where they do it and you insta-fall in love with them, same as a guy diving into the stands after a loose ball or that time Shawn Marion cut LeBron’s heart out of his chest during the Finals. Each time I start to think about how much I admire the dedication of the dunkee, though, I remember that “Y’all respect the one who got shot / I respect the shooter” Jay Z line and it feels like I think I might actually be a loser. I don’t know. It’s confusing.)
Category 4 — Backstory: There isn’t a specific DeMar vs. Tristan backstory, but there’s definitely a Raptors vs. Cavs backstory, what with them being the two best teams in the Eastern Conference last year and probably also this year. Good enough for a 6/15.
Category 5 — Cleanliness of the dunk: Very clean. 5/5.
Category 6 — Reaction of those not directly involved with the dunk: Two things to point out.
First, every time the Raptors have a home game, the only player I really try to watch for isn’t even a player, it’s the woman who sits underneath the basket. You can see her in the GIF. She jumps up and immediately starts screaming and yelling and throwing her arms all around anytime DeMar does something great, which makes sense, because she’s actually his fiancée. She’s the best. She’s always there. So her, plus the rest of the crowd, means a good score for this category.
Second, Hubie Brown was one of the commentators for this game. As DeRozan was dribbling the ball up, he said, “The pressure is on to get high-percentage shots,” and he said that because there was about a minute left in the fourth quarter and the Raptors were down two. After he said that, he said, “You gotta sacrifice your body,” and then just as he said that, that’s when DeRozan exploded to the rim and ready to die-d Tristan Thompson. Mike Breen was the other commentator and he of course went nuts. It was all very dope. So despite little reaction from the other players, DeMar still nets a solid 12/20 behind the strength of his fiancée losing her mind and Hubie Brown foreshadowing a murder.
Total: The DeMar DeRozan dunk on Tristan Thompson was 56 percent disrespectful to Thompson.
That’s Russell Westbrook westbrooking the meaning of life out of Clint Capela’s eye sockets. Russell Westbrook always dunks it like great white sharks attack seals in Discovery Channel documentaries about elite hunters. Russell Westbrook always dunks it like someone told him if he dunks it hard enough he’ll be able to stop global warming. Russell Westbrook always dunks it like it was one of those old Western movies and he just found out it was the rim who shot his father all those years ago.
As far as scoring this dunk goes, I’ll say this much: It’s the highest-rated disrespectful dunk we’re scoring today.
Category 1 — Difficulty/impressiveness: It was a very hard dunk to do. Westbrook is dunking over someone much bigger than him, so that’s a good start. But also notice that he starts to go up with his right, then realizes he needs to go left for it to work, so he thunderdunks it with his left hand, which is his off hand, which is fucking incredible. Score this a 19/20 for Category 1.
Category 2 — Dunker’s reaction: Westbrook’s post-dunk histrionics are unbeatable. They have been for just about his entire career. He runs through the entire gamut here. He stares at Capela, then he pounds on his own chest several times, then he does his Fuck You And Everyone You Love strut, then he cusses to himself and to everyone else, then he angrily collects his accolades from his teammates. It’s all great and wonderful. 20/20.
Category 3 — Defense: Capela tries just about as hard as he can to legally stop the dunk; it’s just to no avail. The only way he was stopping Westbrook in this particular moment (end of the game, with a dunk essentially sealing the victory for the Thunder) was by clobbering him in the chest with a goddamn sledgehammer. Capela gave his life trying to stop Westbrook. We must honor him in the score. Let’s call it a 17/20 for Category 3.
Category 4 — Backstory: Same as with LaVine, I’m going to assume there is some really long and drawn-out family hatred between the Westbooks and the Capelas on some Montagues-and-Capulets shit because otherwise why would Russell have done to Capela what he did? So let’s go with a 10/15 for Category 4 just to be safe, same as we did for LaVine.
Category 5 — Cleanliness of the dunk: The ball gets through the rim cleanly, so this is a 5/5 for Category 5.
Category 6 — Reaction of those not directly involved with the dunk: The crowd and almost all of Westbrook’s teammates celebrate having just seen a felony get committed, so he gets a 16/20 for Category 6.
Total: The Westbrook dunk on Clint Capela was 87 percent disrespectful to Capela.