The dunk above, one of the iconic slams of Shawn Kemp’s career and of all-basketball-time, happened during the 1992 NBA playoffs.
The sequence: A Supersonic throws up a floater, which is skillfully swatted by Warriors big man Chris Gatling. The problem is, Gatling’s block lands right in the hands of Shawn Kemp, who was the basketball-playing equivalent of a man whose thumb was perma-quivering over a big red button that was linked to a pound of dynamite.
Once the ball is secured, Kemp takes one echoing step, and destroys Gatling with a poster, seeming to elevate even higher after absorbing contact in mid-air. When Kemp lands, he stares down Gatling, who proceeds to dap up the man who just put him on the NBA’s eternal highlight reel.
So, the question: Is this the most disrespectful dunk in NBA history, or the most respectful dunk in NBA history?
The case for disrespect:Gatling is kissing the ring. There’s a reason why this has never happened before or since. When you get dunked on, you look the other way and simply pretend it didn’t happen, like a proud general admitting defeat.
The case for respect:This exchange is, by definition, one of absolute respect. An olive branch was extended. And, by Kemp, it was graciously accepted. On this day, game truly recognized game.
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