In a training camp for children in his hometown of Australia, every once in a while, a lifelong fan of Patty Mills would ask him: Can you slam dunk for me?
For most NBA players, this is a breeze. He will clear a way, measure his pace, and authoritatively bring the ball into the basket. He will land and his admirers will celebrate because they have just seen an incredibly cool thing.
Similarly, unfathomable is the correct word, because there is a problem with this situation: Patty Mills does not dunk. He said that of all the choices he can make, dunks are not even an afterthought. Mills said: “I want to say it’s at the bottom of the list, but to be honest, it may not even be on the list.” About not being able to show off for kids: “That was a frustrating moment, I thought,’Oh, I think I can’t get there now, mate,'” Mills said. “‘But I will continue to work hard.'”
Mills is one of the few players in certain select clubs: those who have a successful NBA career, for some reason, never get stuck. Since the 1996-97 season (the earliest data is available from Basketball-Reference.com), 1,801 different players have played 210,842 regular-season dunk games. Of the 1,367 players, there are 1,259 (or 92%) players. At least one dunk in a game of at least 1,000 minutes.
In this way, in 25 seasons, there are 108 stable contributors, and they do not have that good two-handed Grand Slam, 11 of them are representatives of this season. The list goes from MVP (Steve Nash) to senior veterans (JJ Redick, TJ McConnell) to nomads (Troy Daniels). Others, such as Fred VanVleet, Ricky Rubio and DJ Augustin, played long enough to become the protagonist of the league. The members of this earth club are roughly divided into two categories: vertical challengers and peripheral players who are told not to participate in the game. 6’1″ Mills is now in its 12th season. In most games played among active players without dunks, he is ranked fourth on the leaderboard. He is a member of both teams and resigned. Career. Mills said: “I have not tried it for a long time to put the ball into the basket through the game, and then the ball into the basket. I wait, the fewer opportunities I have. “
Steve Novak was not sure what to do when he received the call. It was in early 2012, at the peak of Linsanity in New York City, his agent learned that the NBA wanted him to participate in the dunk contest. Jeremy Lin was sleeping on the sofa of his teammate Landry Fields. As Novak remembers, the plan was to get Fields The slam dunk is on the Lin (Lin) above the futon. When Field had to retire due to injury, JR Smith was taken over. When Smith withdrew from the game because of an ankle injury, the offer went to the next player on the list.
The NBA is eager to take advantage of the excitement surrounding Linsanity, and joining Novak is another failure of the theater. Novak has never dunked as a professional player in five seasons. For a role player with a career income of several million dollars, the cash reward (only $20,000 for participating in the game) is not trivial, and the potential focus of attention may bring miracles for the Knicks. He has been lobbying the league to let him join the three-pointer fight, but they prefer Kevin Durant. With 6 points and 10 inches, a player not as tall as Novak appeared in many games without dunking. And he didn’t risk becoming a meme for All-Star Weekend.
In theory, slam dunk is the bond that separates the basketball gods from the people bound by us ordinary people. On average, everyone can jump 10,000 high jumps a week and eventually develop a decent stroke. All it takes to be a solid defender in a weekend run is just willing to pay attention to the opponent and play hard. However, from now until the day of death, most people can try to raise the frame to the height of the toward, but never get close to dunking.
Novak quickly broke the record: he can dunk. Or at least he can do it. If you know where to look, there will be evidence on the Internet: snippets of sparkling jam from college and regular punches from practice and pre-match. He even remembers his first dunk. He was in eighth grade, towering into the sky, 6 feet 5 inches tall. After seeing Novak fall over him during practice, a coach inspired him. If the friendly giant can dunk in the game, he will get a $20 gift card to a local ice cream shop. “If I had no motivation before,” Novak recalled, “I think this must be achieved.”
A dunk is a one-handed steal in a fast break. In his words, this is vicious. At that time he didn’t know that it would be his last.
Novak’s story is surprisingly common in a league where the Grand Slam is regarded as an icon. Mills, McConnell and Daniels are countless players. Their stories are slam dunks on the rear rims that grow in the driveway and backyard, imitating them on TV Goofy people seen. Dunking is one of the reasons why they fall in love with the game. For professional players, this has never happened.
Like Novak, the video evidence of Mills dunking doesn’t just exist early in his career. Before the home game with the Cavaliers in March 2017, Mills grabbed an alley he was transporting with one hand and yelled at TNT’s microphone, “Oh man, I should save it in the game! “
A quick YouTube search will show a video of McConnell winning the 76ers’ pre-season dunk contest (he said he was forced to participate) in 2016, as well as Daniels’s D-League in 2014. The Rio Grande Valley Viper team won the honor of gameplay and chopped two hands. So why didn’t any of them dunk?
For starters, non-drinkers can sit on the floor and do other things. Like Novak, he made 43.0% of his three-pointers, Mills (39.1%) and Daniels (39.5%) are both sharp shooters from beyond the three-point line, and McConnell (average every 36 minutes) Hit 8 assists) quite attractive for a beautiful pass. They can contribute more than highlighting the charm of dunks by discovering or finding an open teammate.
The other answer is fear. Novak recalled two real opportunities to record his first NBA dunk. The first time was early in his career with the Clippers, when he “risked a fetus” and resorted to finger rolling. The other happened when he played for the Knicks against the Bucks and was on the fast break alone. He is stubborn and thinks this is his moment.
Novak said: “I spent too much time on the rim, and Larry Sanders (Larry Sanders) in the Bucks dragged me out of hell like a bat.” “And it got me I was shocked, so I was in a hurry, and I did not act correctly, just flicked that finger with my finger.”
McKennell (and the Pacers now) also poses a great embarrassment threat to the basket. McConnell said: “Being 6’1” To me, there are many players who look like rim protectors. If I see anyone, no matter who it is, within an amazing distance, I will not try to dunk.
In addition, dunking also brings health risks. Daniels hasn’t signed after seven seasons, and his team has a lot of numbers. He said that although he is 6’4″ tall and has good jumping ability, he has a higher chance of dunking injuries, which makes him more inclined to score layups. Turning his ankle may put his career in danger.
“I rarely dunk when I exercise,” Daniels said. “For me, trying to score a layup or layup has become second nature. Obviously, in the NBA, men are bigger and stronger. The chance of dunking is very small, and the chance of injury is very high…. I don’t want to try to do something that I’m not really familiar with and end up hurting myself.”
The coach told Novak that the days when participating in three games instead of fighting internally was “settled” are long gone. But Novak is outrageous even in this group of games: Not only has he never attempted a dunk in his 11-year career, but he has only attempted 16 layups. Before using most of his limbs correctly, he was limbs, and 78% of his career goal attempts came from beyond the three-point line.
At first, the coach could not untie him. He is a tall forward, he doesn’t need to hit for paint, and he is unlikely to be a glass eater. It wasn’t until Novak hired Rick Adelman to lead the Rockets in the second season that things started to change. Later, when he played for Mike D’Antoni in New York, his skills as a shooter became a major feature of the Knicks’ offense.
“He would say to me,’Hey, Steve, I know the guy you are defending might score. I’m fine. If he scores higher than you, I can’t.” Novak said. “Like, wow. It makes sense to me. If I earn three points and he earns two points, then we are very good here.”
Just because some players choose to play below the rim does not mean they will not be surprised when their teammates or opponents soar above the rim. McConnell remembers watching his former 76ers teammates Ricken Holmes and Nels Noel were shocked when they fell in Philadelphia. Daniels cites Vince Carter and Derrick Jones Jr., although they have calves, Daniels says “it looks like [pencils]”Won the 2020 slam dunk contest, this is his favorite. Mills also fought side by side with many masters, but he appreciates the dunk of every stripe. In the latter part of Manu Ginóbili’s career, the Argentine The team played against some of the Spurs teammates. Ginóbili, Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter competed to see who dunks the most every year After learning about the friendly bet, Mills made sure he was involved.
“I will never get one, but I eventually became a referee and decided that other players were eligible for dunks,” Mills said. “This is the end of their three careers. Dunking them at any time is like a big dunk.”
Splitter, who is 6 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 245 pounds, wins every year, but Diaw and Ginóbili are in a leading position at every stage of each season. The only certainty is Mills and his goose eggs. A far cry from his first dunk in his teens, when he signaled his opponent so violently that he was shocked when his cousin (teammate) screamed and jumped around him. Except for some lingering in his young fans, he felt as if he had missed everything.
McConnell has not yet fully calculated the chance of dunking before retirement, although he doesn’t seem to think it is possible. He prefers to be on the other side of the lane pass. “Maybe before the end of my career, if I can rest quickly, maybe I will get Miles [Turner] Lift me up and dunk, you know, when I was 33 or 34,” McConnell said. “In any case, I don’t have to do anything to get past half-court, and I don’t have to work hard to do it. “
As for Novak, he will not regret ending his career without dunking, nor will he regret rejecting the invitation to the dunk contest. He still watches the game every year and laughs at the idea that someone once asked him to participate in the game. “I think, holy, I made the right decision,” Novak said. “I will have to somehow find a way to get a 9-foot-long iron ring and a mini sofa.”