Alonzo Gee and the Art of the Dunk

On Thursday, Cavs forward Alonzo Gee was not selected to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest. It would have been nice to see Gee on All-Star Saturday night in Orlando. But it’s safe to say that most of us would rather watch him crush one over Dahntay Jones or LeBron James than see him don a Superman cape or some other such nonsense.

The Wine and Gold have had some prolific dunkers pass through the franchise. They’ve even sent three participants to past Dunk Contests – although no one’s ever finished higher than fifth. (Roy Hinson, 7th, 1986; Ron Harper, 5th, 1987; Harper, 7th, 1989; Bob Sura, 5th, 1997).

Of course, a past winner of the contest – in fact, the first winner, Larry Nance – has his number hanging in the rafters.

Tristan Thompson can throw down at close range and Christian Eyenga might be the most graceful dunker on the club. But night-in, night-out, the Cavalier who gets the crowd buzzing when he accelerates in the open floor is Number 33.

As the Wine and Gold prepare for the high-octane Heat, spent a minute with Cleveland’s high-flying forward to discuss the Art of the Dunk …

Are you bothered that you weren’t selected for this year’s Slam Dunk Contest?
Alonzo Gee: Not really. I could use a couple days rest.

Who do you like in this year’s field?
Gee: I like Imam Shumpert and Paul George. But I’d have to go with Imam Shumpert – he can bounce.

Excluding yourself, if there’s a dunk contest here at Cleveland Clinic Courts, who wins?
Gee: Christian (Eyenga). He can really dunk. I’d say Tristan (Thompson) and Christian.

Have you dunked competitively before?
Gee: I actually did the D-League dunk contest in Dallas. I finished in second place. My dunk wasn’t much. They told me, day-of – ‘We want you in the dunk contest!’ And I was like: ‘What?’ It was still a really good experience, though.

Can you describe the feeling of an in-game crush to us in the non-dunking public?
Gee: It’s a great feeling because it not just gets me going, it gets my team going, it gets the crowd pumped up. So it’s a wonderful feeling for me just to get that. Everybody gets quiet and I’m thinking: ‘Here we go!’ and ‘I better not miss this dunk.’

Do you have time to think about what you want to do on a breakaway?
Gee: Sometimes, I’ll think what I want to do. But I don’t get many fastbreak dunks. I like to dunk in traffic, especially on a guy like Dahntay Jones because he’s known as a defender and a tough guy. He can jump pretty well himself. I saw him in college – he dunked one and started doing push-ups. So he’s got a lot of bounce.

You’re a pretty laid-back guy, but you rarely show even a little bit of emotion after a big dunk. Why?
Gee: (Laughs) Because my (defensive) assignment is hard. Every game I have to guard the best player, so I ain’t got time to waste any energy jumping up and down. I just try to keep it cool.

After taking that horrible spill on an attempted dunk in the opener against Toronto, what was going through your mind in the seconds after? Were you hesitant for at least the rest of that game?
Gee: No, because later that game I got another dunk. (When it first happened) I heard the crowd, but they started cheering when I got up, so I thought it wasn’t too bad. It didn’t hurt too bad when I fell, so I just got up.

Do you remember your first dunk?
Gee: I would say it was in middle school . It was just a regular dunk, it wasn’t anything fancy. It was a breakaway. We had a couple tall kids on the team that could dunk, but yeah, it was still pretty crazy. I didn’t care if I missed or not. I just wanted to try.

How about your personal favorite?
Gee: I’d probably say when I did a ‘360’ at Alabama – because I told my mom I was going to. I was like, ‘Mom, I’m gonna do a 360 in a game for you.’ We were playing Coppin State. I told my mom and my girl I was going to do it. And I did.

OK, the visual part of the interview: Can you recognize the guy – second from the left – in this photo?
Gee: That’s Paul Pressey.

Right. That’s Paul Pressey from the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest. What year were you born?
Gee: In 1987.

How do you think he did?
Gee: I know how he did! I actually saw the dunk contest that he was in! I was in Poland. And during the lockout they were showing all the old school stuff. When I came back I said, ‘Coach, I didn’t know you were in the dunk contest!’ And he was like, ‘Yeah I was.’

How did he do?
Gee: (Laughs) He didn’t do too much.

Think he can still throw down?
Gee: I don’t know. But I’m not going to doubt him.