rudy gay

Originally published in SLAM 158

They say a dunk is only worth two points—and, true to form, Rudy Gay’s first-quarter dunk on Andrew Bynum just nudged the scoreboard two clicks, from 12 to 14, tying the game early. But that was just what was measurable. There are things that statistics—even advanced ones—can’t quantify.

What isn’t known is that the most ferocious dunks resonate. Like earthquakes, there are aftershocks, and occasionally after-aftershocks. While the first wave of a historically powerful dunk may have immediate effects, like collapsing a backboard or making Shawn Bradley fall down, there are often unexpected results that can’t be tied to the initial impact. At least, not yet.

Which brings us back to Rudy Gay. His dunk took place in the first quarter. And after the reaction and the replays, things went back to normal. Andrew Bynum not only stayed in the game, he even finished with 30 points on 11 of 16 shooting. Which is fine—the aftershock isn’t always that obvious. And, with the Lakers trying to make a late fourth-quarter run, Mike Brown left Kobe Bryant on the bench for four minutes. Inexplicable. Or is it?

Russ Bengtson