In Praise of the Put Back Dunk

Last night Eric Bledsoe unleashed a pretty nice put back dunk against the Cavs:

The greatness of the put back dunk comes from the summation of its various parts. Technically it’s a rebound. Then add the catch aspect of an alley-oop. It’s almost always in the midst of traffic in the lane so the instances of defender posterization are very high. A dash of instinct, a pinch of luck and the rollercoaster of crowd emotion as a missed shot becomes a highlight reel jam. Mix well and unleash in a frantic second or two of pure athletic accomplishment.

The put back dunk gets a crowd hyped no matter what but the hype level gets increased in inverse proportion to the size of the dunker. The smaller the dunker the more intense the crowd hype. When a Point Guard is involved in a put back the fever pitch reached by the crowd is just not possible when it’s a 7 foot Center. Call it the Distance Factor.

The farther a player travels from in the lead up to the put back greatly influences the wow factor of the slam. When a small Guard comes from behind the three point arc, dashing into the lane unencumbered, flying four feet off the ground to grab the rebound and jam it back on some Big’s head, well the intensity of that act just can’t be matched by a Center jumping straight up slamming home a put back.

The Free Throw Put Back

In addition to being the greatest offensive basketball player of all-time and probably the greatest defensive player when he wanted to be, it’s no surprise that Michael Jordon owns the put back dunk domain as well.

MJ’s specialty was the Free Throw Put Back:

The Free Throw is the most boring part of a basketball game. The Put Back Dunk is the apex of basketball excitement. So when the latter happens as a result of the former, the hype levels increase by a exponent of 1000.

And of course MJ always had that extra bit of style that only he could provide.

Alley-oops are great but you can usually see them developing. There’s beauty in the anticipation as you watch the set up and wait to see if the play will bear fruit. A disrespectful dunk in the lane is a wonderful thing. But it’s an end product of the flow of an offensive possession.

The Put Back Dunk arrives as a surprise. Disappointment becomes jubilation. A negative gets turned into a positive through shear force of will. One player takes it upon himself to right a wrong. Another’s miss is my greatest achievement he says to the world. And we stand. And we applaud.


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