GRIFFIN THROWS DOWN ANOTHER ICONIC DUNK
LOS ANGELES –Blake Griffin has completed something of a Mount Rushmore of dunks.
With 3:59 left in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s 111-105 win over the Celtics, Griffin created more than a highlight. He created a movement: as in taking over Twitter, overwhelming nightly sports broadcasts and shifting the bar on how a dunk can even be completed.
Griffin caught a bounce pass on a pick-and-roll from Jamal Crawford, gathered the ball in stride and took one step before leaping into, and over, Celtics forward Kris Humphries. Griffin was too far away from the rim to merely reach over Humphries and dunk it, so he seemingly elevated to another level, still, and threw the ball down through the basket, drawing a foul in the process.
“I thought it was a good read by Jamal,” said Griffin, who scored 29 points and converted the ensuing free throw after things settled down inside the arena. “It was good timing. Every time something like that happens, it’s always the situation that creates a type of play like that. Getting the ball at the right time, Jamal finding me, D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) is the in the right spot to make Kris Humphries be a little bit late on that. It’s really our execution.”
The whole thing looked eerily familiar to three other dunks in the pantheon of third-quarter throwdowns in Griffin’s brief but astounding career. The Mozgov was the original, perhaps the George Washington. His dunk over Kendrick Perkins in January 2012 could be the most… monumental. The Perkins dunk was so iconic that when Griffin did something similar a few months later against Pau Gasol it was seemingly awash in the previous two.
Griffin’s not one for ranking them, but his teammate Ryan Hollins did.
“He jumped from even further out than I knew,” Hollins said. “His back foot was at about the elbow. So, when he jumped he threw it in over Kris Humphries and I thought Hump tried to contest. He was there in time. Because of the magnitude of the game [two years ago], it’s up there with Kendrick Perkins. I kind of one want to say the Perkins one more because of his reputation as a shot blocker, but, man, this is in a tie right in there for second or third. Oh, my goodness.”
Jordan, who has the Brandon Knight dunk from last March on his own greatest hits, had a similar reaction to Hollins: borderline astonishment.
“I don‘t know if you saw me, but I was like, ‘Oh my god, that was nasty,‘” Jordan said. “I was looking up, I was trying to hurry up and see the replay. I don‘t even care about the free throw. I just want to see the replay.”
Crawford added: “J.J. [Redick] showed me the Clippers’ Instagram picture and if you look at the picture, there’s no way you would have guessed that Blake would’ve made that dunk. No way. It looks unbelievable and I can’t wait to go home and watch it on YouTube.”
For Griffin, it is not about creating an in-arena buzz or holding social media captive. It’s the kind of play that he hopes can alter the tide of a game.
“Especially late in games, you’ll kind of use anything to get you going,” Griffin said. “If that’s what it is and it gets us going then I hope it works. But we can’t rely on a big play like that to get us going.”
Still, on Wednesday with the Clippers up just two points, the play did get them going. The Clippers extended the lead to 100-84 over the seven minutes that followed Griffin’s posterization of Humphries. It was a shot of adrenaline in many ways, even if Griffin had more of a placid look on his face after completing it.
“It’s one of those things as a basketball player we’re supposed to make plays,” Griffin said. “I’m not going to get too overly excited about a play in the third quarter when we should be playing much better, especially in that situation. I might be a little bit happier on the inside than I show on the outside.”
Needless to say, millions of NBA fans worldwide did little to hide their emotions.
The play was shown multiple times in the arena. The Prime Ticket broadcast showed a replay of it out of nearly all of their television timeouts from then until the end of the game. It was nearing midnight on the West Coast, more than three hours after the dunk reverberated through Staples Center and “Blake Griffin” was trending No. 1on Twitter, followed by “Kris Humphries.”
That’s enough to know the Humphries will live well beyond Jan. 8, 2014. It’s permanently etched near the top of Griffin’s mountain of dunks.