Friday, January 11, 2008

The Dunk that wasn't so great

Tyler Hansbrough is a great player. However, the vast majority of college-level “big men” could’ve pulled off his “spectacular” dunk over UNC-Asheville’s Kenny George with the aid of a distance-creating travel or a "running start" as the announcer put it. For those of you who watched the game—or saw the highlight 68 times on Sportscenter—you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who haven’t, Hansbrough clearly traveled. Had he attempted the dunk—or even a shot—after just two steps—the number allowable by rule—George would’ve been all over it.

You might be wondering why I would even write something about this. Players get away with travels all the time. Well, Jim Rome felt it necessary to rip into George for letting Hansbrough “throw one down” on him. This is probably where I need to mention that George is 7’7 and weighs 365 lbs. Rome—without mention of Hansbrough’s blatant travel—mocked George on Jim Rome is Burning. Here is what he had to say:

“Top-ranked North Carolina ran its record to a perfect 16-0, hammering North
Carolina-Asheville 93-81. Obviously, the highlight of the night was Tar Heel
Tyler Hansbrough throwing one down on 7 foot-7 Kenny George! To quote my
colleague Bill Walton. Move your feet in the paint…you have to protect the rim,
big man. This is a man’s game. Played by men…competing for the ultimate prize.

George says that is the first time anyone has jammed on him in at least
three years. Uh yeah! You are 7-7, 360….it’s not going to happen very often. He
says, quote: “I saw him coming to the basket. I just kept my hands straight up.
I had him. I just forgot to jump.”

Of course, Kenny, you’re 7-7. Unless
you’re changing a light in the scoreboard, you don’t need to. My man…he may be a
Player of the Year candidate but a guy nearly a foot shorter than you shouldn’t
be putting you on a ‘poster’.”

Rome tries to play the story up by suggesting that UNC-Ashville got “hammered” in a 12-point-loss on the road against the #1 team in the country (NC won by 31 last year). Asheville didn't get "hammered" and George's 14 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks were one of the reasons why. Yet, Rome's only mention of George was to lament him for allowing a guy—who needed a travel violation just to pull the play off—to “posterize” him. This is just my opinion but if a guy needs to travel to complete a dunk, that dunk should be a). barred from being called spectacular and b). barred from being on a poster.

Rome is a perfect example why “selling your soul to the devil” is such a bad thing. He rips on anyone and everyone for anything and everything. He has somehow built up “street cred” as a badass, in-your-face interviewer which is something I never thought was possible after the Jim Everett-incident (for the love of God, please click the link). I don’t mind a guy who speaks his mind like Rome. He asks difficult questions and doesn’t let people get away with clich├ęs or “throw away” answers. The part of Rome I can’t stand, though, is exactly the sort of thing that inspired this post. Kenny George got beat by an illegal move on one play in one basketball game during one season of his career. Yet, Rome was all over him as if he had any idea what it's like to be 7'7.

George is an NBA-prospect. He is the best 7’7 player I have ever seen (which really only means he’s better than Manute Bol and Gheorge Muresan). He is bigger, stronger, and more mobile than Bol and Muresan. He will have an NBA career and it won’t just be as a benchwarmer. George has had to deal with acromegaly and two catastrophic knee injuries. This is a guy who should be celebrated, not mocked. That one play is not any more an indictment of George’s basketball "game" as Rome getting bitch-slapped by Everett was an indictment of Rome’s manhood. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. And, people who get dunked on by a guy who blatantly traveled should not be ridiculed.

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