Kevin Kemp's dunk at the Adonai Hood Classic
At one point during the 2010 NBA Dunk contest, TNT analyst Reggie Miller commented, "Right now, these guys are doing dunks I've done in the Calabassas rec center."
It wasn't so much that the players were has-beens, but that they seemed uninspired, almost as though we had officially reached the limits of human dunking creativity. Of course, that would assume that the world's best dunkers are in the NBA.
Kevin Kemp's dunk at the 2010 Adonai Hood Classic with Nate Robinson looking on as judge might not have been the most technically sophisticated dunk you've ever witnessed. But it brought the house down simply because it brought an element of unpredictability to something that we all think we can pretty readily predict. Even three-time NBA Dunk Contest winner Nate Robinson who was judging the competition was in disbelief, according to Seattle Times reporter Ron Newberry.
Will Conroy leads Garfield past Rainier Beach in Adonai Hood Classic final
Kevin Kemp, a graduate of Tacoma's Lincoln High School who didn't play basketball in college and is currently playing overseas in France, got a thunderous ovation for his acrobatic winning dunk.
As Garfield coach Ed Haskins held a basketball in the air, Kemp leapt over Haskins, put the ball under his leg with one hand and dunked it with the other. Robinson, a three-time winner of the NBA's slam dunk contest, was one of the Hood Classic's dunk contest judges. He was floored.
"Unbelievable," Robinson said. "Totally unbelievable."
While even "new" dunks might draw from a limited set of archetypes, dunking as an artform is fundamentally about making a name for oneself by showing up the competition with acrobatic athletic feats. It's not always about technical difficulty, but coming with an idea and pulling it off before anyone else does it. The best dunks stretch the limits of our imagination a little, with a combination of grace and power with the flair of alpha male bravado. So it's probably reasonable to say that there is no better place to incubate dunks than in the informal and unstructured tournament that glorifies a streetball ethic.
Runner-up William Bullard's dunk