SECAUCUS, NJ, Jan. 24, 2006 --
Time to celebrate. We have reached the midway point of the regular season, a perfect time to honor the best of the 2006-07 campaign to date. NBA.com's experts expound on their mid-season picks for the six major awards, as well as another eight "best of" categories.
Is it the elevation? Is it the power? Is it the quality of the defender underneath? Is it the reaction of the guys on the bench? What makes the Best Dunk?
Was it me, or did you think the Bobcats' Emeka Okafor hurt himself trying to get out of the way of Orlando's Trevor Ariza, too? >>
Short of taking off your warm-ups to reveal that you've forgotten your game shorts, there might be no more humiliating experience in basketball than being posterized. One player exempted may be Alonzo Mourning, simply because of the aggressiveness with which he defends his own goal. See Vince Carter bodying ‘Zo out of the way for a monster slam in last year's playoffs. This year, it was Joey Graham taking the ball strong to the rim and finishing over the 6-10 shot blocker. >>
LeBron James throwing it down on the All-Defensive First Teamer in his house wasn't only rude but exhilarating all at the same time. >>
Here's how I described Ronnie Price's dunk in my Dec. 10th column, "The Kings' second-year, pipe-cleaner thin guard out of Utah Valley State posterized Carlos Boozer. We're talking left-handed, body still rising when he collides with Boozer, leap started from outside the lane, and a little leg action that -- like the Chappelle Show skit claims -- looks 10 times cooler in slow-motion." >>
It's rare that he plays someone's foil on a poster, but on Nov. 3, thanks to LeBron James, Tim Duncan got the treatment he's given so many others. James came rumbling down the lane and Duncan planted himself in the restricted circle. It was no contest. James thundered home a dunk and sent Duncan into the third row behind the hoop. If the he would have called a foul, It would have been a block, but the ref probably figured TD had taken enough abuse for one play.
Ronnie Price is listed (generously) at 6-foot-2. Carlos Boozer stands tall at 6-9. When Price went baseline over Boozer and flushed it down with his off hand, all I could do was cringe. When a dunk is so nasty it incites near-agony, it's nasty enough to be the best dunk of the season's first half.
Ronnie Price hadn't really done much in this league before his Nov. 22 dunk on Carlos Boozer, and he hasn't really done much since, but I don't really care. The dunk was nice.