Some say it’s the most exciting two points in sports, others know it is. What is it? The slam dunk.
When you think of basketball, one of the first images that comes to mind is the Michael Jordan “jump man” logo. The logo depicts Jordan flying towards the rim to slam one home. There are hours of video devoted to determining the “best dunk” of all time. During the NBA All-Star weekend, there is an entire event devoted to the dunk. For many, the dunk is to basketball as the Christmas tree is to Christmas.
A dunk will get people on their feet at any level, even if your team is getting dunked on. Whether your cheer is in excitement or slight pain, it’s still something fans cheer for.
Piedmont has five players who can dunk during practice, and three who can in a game. Keith Vick, Adrian Williams, and Cameron Peters can all take pride in being able to rattle the rim when it matters most.
“We encourage them to drunk at any time,” Coach Ryan Wagner said. Even during practice, Wagner encourages the guys to dunk when they can. “It can be intimidating to the other team. It’s a momentum starter and a confidence starter.”
The evidence of that momentum is everywhere. Remember back to the Noble game, Vick was able to take a pass, run the length of the floor and slam one down. A quick glance at the Noble bench was like looking at a balloon being popped. They didn’t have any fight left.
“It’s a game changer,” Vick said. “When you dunk in a big game, the crowd goes nuts and the whole game changes. Your team gets pumped up.”
Now, players can’t just wake up one day and be able to dunk a basketball. It takes a lot of hard work to learn how to approach the rim, where to jump, how to hold the ball in the air, and how to get it through the hoop without hurting yourself. All the work pays off the first time a player soars through the air and gets the crowd to their feet.
“You have to want (to do it),” Peters said. “It takes work.”
“(To dunk) you need the right technique and you have to work out in the offseason,” Vick explained. “You can’t just come in and expect to do it the first time.”
One thing that no player ever forgets is the first time they dunked in a game. For these three guys at Piedmont, it happened during their eighth grade year. Williams in a game against Deer Creek, Peters in one against Chickasa, and Vick in a game against Whittier. It’s that moment when every part of your game changes, and start going above the rim.
“A dunk, it swings the game speed,” Williams said. “You dunk and things go your way.”
Through hard work, practice, more hard work, and a little bit of luck these players have joined the club of guys who can score the most exciting two points in the sport. With every slam of the ball, every rattle of the rim; they amp up the crowd, themselves, and their teammates towards another win.