Here is Victor Oladipo dunking while sporting the Pacers’ odd-as-hell Hickory High uniforms. Vic catches a pass, rises up into the air, does a little 360, slams it down, and comes off the rim with legs akimbo, landing low and lovely. It’s a wonderful little thing of beauty and pleasure, an act of thoroughly gratuitous showmanship, the kind of shit the NBA has been doing for decades better than any other sports league.
Vic spinning 360 on a break for no reason is the sprinkles this great sport is made of, the kind of thing that gets a fan in the arena cheering, a fan in his chair slightly lifting his can in tribute. It’s what sets youths on playgrounds across the world dreaming about the dunks they may someday do, and jacks the mind of squares who prefer college ball, sending them into lil’ cop fits about what sports are supposed to be.
We celebrate Vic’s dunk today, but, unfortunately, we are basically done writing about him because there is a more interesting actor, a more interesting action, a more interesting and beautiful set of motivations we need to examine right now. We are here to talk about Thad Young.
Thad Young created this dunk by stealing the ball off some terrible random-ass Knicks pass, dribbling it up the court, and just...giving it to Victor, streaking beside him up the break. There was no REAL reason for Thad to do this. He doesn’t need assists more than points, he doesn’t OWE anything to Victor. He just hands the ball over to his man, and stands back while Victor reaps a harvest of love and good vibes.
To you, the reader, I ask: Who is the Victor Oladipo in your life? Who is the person running up that break with you, bursting with potential? Who out there is waiting to make a metaphorical 360 dunk in their life, to do the kind of work that will bring joy and light into the world, if only you would finally get on with it and pass them the “ball”?
Is it a co-worker waiting for you to ask them for help with something you’re being proprietary about?
Is it your spouse, perhaps looking to return to school, to break out of their career and head off into greener, more glorious pastures?
Is it a family member, a teammate, a member of your faith community? Would this person probably do a fabulous job playing the drums in the worship band, if only you, a less talented, less experienced drummer, who still has seniority in the community would step aside?
Why, I ask, do you continue to stand in their way? Why won’t you step aside, let them shine, let them bring THEIR gifts into the world? Is it pride? Fear? Are you just being oblivious to the needs of your friends and your broader community?
Are you scared the world will discard you? If this is the case, I am sorry you were raised to believe that sort of thing. No one worth your time will ever discard a kind and generous soul.
The pass that leads to a showdunk is having a moment, right now, I think in thanks to the stupendous work being done by Khris Middleton in Milwaukee. Khris, a solid role playing wing for the Bucks, the Yin to Giannis’s yang, has done some wonderful work lately in threading the needle for his Grecian Freacian teammate, helping him out on that legendary skybox jam over the poor and now extremely dead Tim Hardaway Jr.:
And this less heralded, still pretty good sky over poster-magnet Bismack Biyombo:
Middleton’s subtle skills are the perfect counterpart to Giannis’s freakish overflowing on-court mania. We should respect people like him more.
But, I might argue, that what Thad does here, giving it up for no reason except the PURE JOY OF GIVING IT UP, is even more impressive. After all, what greater joy is there than letting your fellow man, your fellow woman, the spirits in your life dunk even if it brings you no glory? The answer is that there is no greater joy than this selflessness. Live for others, love for others. Write it in cursive over a picture of Thad Young and stick it on your refrigerator. Be inspired.