What would a dunk that went on forever look like? A man taking off into the air at the free-throw line or somewhere beyond it, hurtling toward the basket. The closer he gets to the net, the slower time itself becomes. We see the inevitability of the dunk, the purity of its execution, hanging there in perpetuity. The certainty of two points going up on the board but the ball never quite reaching the rim, its leather exterior now inches, now centimeters, now atoms away from the rim.
Sooner or later, we will be staring at what appears to be a still image of someone—DeAndre Jordan, in this case. It is not still, of course; it is moving in increments of time we can’t even imagine, portions of millions of a second quicker than the moment of recognition of a single leaf on a tree somewhere off in the distance of your mind, smaller than the smallest possible thought, the dunk still happening in front of you, still the truest two points imaginable, but the machinations of time keeping it from ever counting in the true “two points” sense of the word.
Here we have a dunk from DeAndre Jordan that seems, for a blessed second, to go on forever. I saw this thing while I was going through my weekly perusal of the NBA YouTube account’s best dunks of the week video. As it unfurled, I hardly could believe what I was seeing. DeAndre Jordan, seven feet one inch tall, catches the ball, then maneuvers when Larry Nance Jr., making his third straight appearance in this column, takes a swipe at it—the full impetuousness of youth at work, I take it. DeAndre rolls off of him and sees an opening.
In this moment, this dunk, for me, becomes the endless dunk. Because I know how this will end. I knew DeAndre is going to throw that bad boy down, ring up two on the board, maybe even draw a foul. But everything else is disassociating, scatting, unknowable, slower than slow, time unhooked.
Here he is, one of the NBA’s most staid centers, the Platonic screen-and-roll man, taking one insanely large and loopy dribble and then three giant-ass steps in defiance of the rules and of the will of god. The distance, and the time he takes to cover that distance, are themselves unusual enough.
In a perfect and orderly world, a ref would blow the play dead. But sports, like every other facet of our lives, are not perfect or orderly in the slightest. The refs are, for some reason, not privy to DeAndre’s gigantic travel.
But this mistake has a BROADER PURPOSE. Those three gigantic, loopy steps reset our minds, setting us down in a deeply disassociated place. Nothing about the dunk from this point on seems quite real. It becomes the dunk that never ends, an act of inevitability that spins on forever and ever.
After his boundary-shattering strides, DeAndre hauls himself into the air as far from the basket as a man could possibly get away with in an actual game. DeAndre is not young—he’s 29 years old, his springs are slowly melting away before our eyes—and the effect of watching him launch all that length in the air isn’t explosive like, let’s say, Vince Carter or whoever in a contest. In that second he takes flight, DeAndre becomes less a missile and more a dirigible, churning in the air, gaining inch after inch of height, going so much farther than you can imagine.
As he gets closer and closer, the atoms begin to show, and then, somehow, this dunk gets EVEN SLOWER as DeAndre collides with Jordan Clarkson, just every so slightly altering his trajectory, spinning his body around a little, adding even more unnecessary motion to this never-ending flight.
When will this dunk end? DeAndre’s legs have swung back and forth, flopping in the wind, his body spins, his arm extended forward, the full length of his body arcing at a 45-degree angle, every part of himself, his momentum in flight, his body extending, his hair flying forward, getting longer and longer, all to reach the hoop.
He even draws a foul, for Christ’s sakes. Everything that can spread this out and make the dunk even longer happens, one thing after another. It is, I suspect, the closest we’ll get to the dream, to the Eternal Dunk.
Does it give you pleasure? Or does it bore you? Can you handle this much dunk in one dunk? Please, dream on it for me.