It was Timofey Mozgov but more jaw dropping. It was Dwight Howard’s Superman dunk from the 2009 Slam Dunk Contest in a game.
With 8:52 remaining in the third quarter and the Clippers turning in one of their finest performances in recent memory, Griffin caught a perfecting placed bounce pass from Chris Paul between Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. He had a running start at the rim as well as Thunder center Kendrick Perkins.
As Perkins rotated a little late to the strong side, Griffin jumped, right arm cocked behind his head, mouth agape, and hammered home a dunk of such viciousness and such degree of difficulty it hardly mattered that it gave the Clippers a 21-point lead against an opponent who had won 16 of its first 19 games.
“He’s going to do that, you know, when he gets moving,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought it was a great pass and obviously, just a great finish. I think Blake enjoys the contact and he has great control. He’s such a tremendous athlete you’re going to see things like that once and while because of his aggressiveness and the way he attacks the basket.”
Griffin described how it happened.
“It’s the timing of the play, it’s the timing of when I got the pass, and also the late rotation,” Griffin added. “If all that comes together at the right time, then those things happen.”
Reserve forward Brian Cook, who was on the Clippers bench for both dunks, said the dunk over Perkins was better because he thought Griffin was a “little bit higher.”
It may have been due in part to Griffin getting more of a running start as opposed to simply catch, step, liftoff.
“It was amazing,” Paul said. “The first thing I thought of was that it looked identical to what he did against the Knicks. I was just excited. Me, I’m probably different from a lot of other people, the thing I was most excited about was that he made his free throw, so he made a 3-point play.”
Paul calling the dunk “amazing” was timid compared to the unadulterated praise and hyperbole unleashed on Twitter seconds after Griffin landed.
Matt Kemp, Bubba Watson, Lebron James, Terrell Owens, David Lee, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Jennings, and Magic Johnson were among the prominent Tweeters that commented.
James called it the “Dunk of the Year!!”
Kemp wrote: “The best dunk I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Owens said, “This dude is a beast.” One sports writer, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, called it obscene.
Phrases like Kendrick Perkins, Mozgov, Mozgov’d, #dunkoftheyear were among the top 10 trending topics in the United States on the social media website.
As for reaction, though, no one can sum up the play better than Griffin.
“When they play the replay on the jumbotron you hear the crowd,” Griffin said. “DJ’s [DeAndre Jordan’s] reaction is always my gauge on what the dunk was like. I think that time he screamed, grabbed me and bear hugged me. I figured he thought it was cool.”