Originally published in SLAM 78

It’s disappointing that you can’t TiVo real life. Moments that should be re-lived over and over instead fly by in fractions of a second, leaving you to wonder if they ever happened at all. So when Jason Richardson flipped the ball off the glass, caught it, passed it between his legs and dunked it, you were left to wonder—even as you stood up, jaw to the floor—did I really see that?

In a Dunk Contest filled with questionable judging, mistimed bounces and a general lack of drama, this one moment was absolute perfection. Andre 3000′s creativity mixed with Vince’s 2000′s dominance. But what hurt was it was just that—a moment. You didn’t even have the luxury of a missed attempt to give you some warning of what was about to occur and pull you to the edge of your seat. Before you could sort out what was going to happen, it’d already happen. There was the replay on the scoreboard, but even that seemed unreal. A historical moment already past. The only logical reaction was to give JRich the check and the trophy and send everybody home.

It didn’t happen that way, of course. The moment passed. And Fred Jones “beat” JRich by failing on more spectacular (according to the judges) last attempts than JRich did. A Dunk Contest ended on missed dunks, no one won, everyone else just lost. A day later, the 2004 Dunk Contest was being tossed in the historical dustbin. But that one moment, it will live on. Off the glass and through the legs. Perfection. “He…” The next day, pre-ASG, Baron Davis loses the words. “He is ridiculous.” Yeah. Pretty much.

Russ Bengtson