How nasty would a dunk have to be to make you feel actual shame for watching it? To see a guy banged on, torn apart so completely that the blood would rush to your face and you would slouch over in your chair, embarrassed you were watching it, as if stumbling onto a video of your cousin doing a terrible lip synch to “Baby I’m a Star.”
I propose that this is that dunk.
The pure, oozing embarrassment in this dunk is a molten core of gross, sticky, burbling lava, around which a world of maleficent grey and pink dust has formed, an out-of-place ball of shame floating up in the heavens, disconcerting anyone unlucky enough to view it through a telescope.
Let me tell you its story.
The Portland Trail Blazers, a higher seed facing a hobbled New Orleans Pelicans squad in the first round, were expected to make the second round fairly easily and be a shadow contender for the conference finals. The Pelicans have Anthony Davis, certainly, but the rest of their roster is just completely insane and seemed to be terribly mismatched against the Blazers' crew of sturdy, dependable boys.
What happened instead is that the Blazers got fucking rinsed. Damian Lillard was terrible, besieged by Jrue Holiday and double teamed at every turn, Evan Turner warped spacetime with how unplayable he looked, and C.J. McCollum was pedestrian at best.
But no one came out of this series smelling more like a giant pile of cat shit than Jusuf Nurkic. Nurk, the Bosnian Beast, was an important player for Portland this year, forming the backbone of a top defense and playing pretty good offense.
But he is a player with… tics. And these tics manifested into full blown spasms, the spasms into convulsions, the convulsions into arm dislocations. He’s a little slow, a little heftier than a median NBA player, and Davis ate a goddamn plate of cornbread with Nurk’s tummy as a table all series. He’s always had trouble finishing around the rim, and he just absolutely seemed hell bent on missing left and right—layups, hooks, whatever. The team suffered with him on the court but there were no other feasible options with his minutes. I watched as the only sports team I really care about got absolutely crushed, for no particular reason aside from the malfeasance of the front office. It was heinous.
Anyway, so here is Nurk, chilling under the basket after a transition three from Ian Clark, a kind of bad NBA player who the Blazers should have beat in the playoffs. He ambles up to get it—pretty routine—when, all of a sudden, behind him, probably wearing illegal shoes that mask the sound of his footsteps, comes Anthony Davis, screaming through the air like a fucking condor, driving the ball home with a violent momentum that is unseemly at best, offensive and unsuitable for the children who were watching what most people figured was a family event at worst.
Nurk, who was just trying to do his best, is knocked to the floor by this dunk which, if we’re being honest, was probably a charge and was definitely unsportsmanlike. Not to moralize or anything but Anthony Davis is a very bad example for tall, thin children and should be kicked out of basketball and polite society forever. Anyway, Nurk—poor Nurk—is sent flying to the ground, splayed out, all because he tried his best.
The audience feels a chill of sadness, disgust with themselves and Davis and the institution of basketball itself. The thrill they are supposed to feel at a dunk, it doesn't even exist.
And then, this son-of-a-gun Jrue Holiday, not merely satisfied with dismantling the accomplishments of the HONORABLE Damian Lillard, points at Nurk, splayed out on the ground, to REVEL in the misery of his opponent and make this moment even more revolting and disconcerting. Extremely uncool. Everyone thinks so.
But, we move on. The Pelicans to the next round, where they will, hopefully, get absolutely dismantled by the Warriors in a series that will barely even exist for being so short, and the Blazers to a madness-fueled offseason where someone will probably get traded or fired and publicly blamed via anonymous leak to whatever reporter will listen as the sands of time continue to fall.