Ja Morant’s outrageous dunk. Photo/Getty
The dunk that immortalized Ja Morant as a “poster” on NBA Twitter this week could’ve easily been called a foul – as countless reply guys have argued.
But that wouldn’t have been fun at
there. The right call, in the grand scheme of things, was made.
The NBA, especially during the playoffs, is sport at its most fun and thrilling – the NBA knows this, the refs often facilitate it, the fans crave it and the internet can’t get enough.
It’s something all sports strive for in the social media era, and few are better at consistently creating highlight reel moments that dominate timelines like the NBA, with Morant’s unbelievable dunk against the Timberwolves on Wednesday the latest example.
.@JaMorant‘s poster from EVERY ANGLE 👀🔥
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 27, 2022
The NBA is the perfect foil for algorithmic malaise, regularly producing perfectly packaged morsels of serotonin for the sporting masses to be shared, memed and debated. It creates excitement, conversation and controversy – something plenty of other sports *cough* rugby *cough* could learn to do better.
And no one in the NBA is better at creating those moments than Ja Morant.
The Grizzlies were down by 13 points in the third quarter with the series tied up at 2-2, when the electrifying guard spotted an opportunity for his next “Ja Breaker”. Malik Beasley tried to shift quickly to take the charge, but there was no call from the refs. Beasley chose not to jump. Morant jumped over him. The rest, as they say, was great content.
Was it foul? Retired NBA star Vince Carter, the poster king of his was his, defend the dunk on ESPN, saying – perhaps slightly too charitably – that Morant leaned enough to the left to avoid creating contact needed for a charge.
But it didn’t matter. We all witnessed an incredible piece of athleticism, one that changed the entire makeup of the series as the dunk inspired Memphis to victory. It was thrilling, internet-breaking and yet another addition to the NBA’s rich history of memorable moments.
I guess you could say: Vince Carter jumped, so Ja Morant could fly.
Every single kid would have had this poster on their wall in 1994 pic.twitter.com/TrhY4X1URF
— Kyle Koster (@KyleKoster) April 27, 2022
How is that not a charge? Defender established position, outside of the circle.
— Dave Millar (@davemillar71) April 27, 2022
The perfect sporting pundit for our times
On the topic of the NBA, it’s time to pay tribute to Stephen A. Smith, sports broadcasting’s very own “unicorn” (a term used to describe eleven-in-a-generation freak athletes).
TV sports pundits these days are too safe, often populated by former players who avoid saying what’s on their mind in fear of offending their sporting fraternity. Media companies are increasingly losing independence, with NZ Rugby’s part ownership of Sky TV a classic example of the PR-ification of sports media. It all makes for stale TV.
You will never hear a sports pundit in New Zealand, for better or worse, label someone “the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete I have ever seen”, which was how Smith described sidelined Nets star Ben Simmons this week on ESPN’s First Take.
Smith, who has basically turned sports punditry into performance art, is undoubtedly good for sports in the battle for eyeballs. He inspires hate and emotion, and presents his hot takes with the bombast of a professional wrestling heel.
Sure, he’s far from highbrow, or a good analyst, but he sure as hell is magnetic, entertaining and extremely memeable. Above all, he breaks through the noise. We can’t look away.
Relatable golf content
On this week’s edition of this-man-who’s-almost-30-spends-way-too-much-time-on-TikTok, it’s time to shine a light on a super relatable dude who has found a massive following by posting videos of his very average golfing.
The man behind the TikTok account ‘mulliganplus3putt’ is not great at golf, but whomst among us? Each video on the account documents one man’s painful journey through a hole of golf, with the help of ball tracker just to hammer home his horrendous slices of it.
His swearing and slashing through the course has gained millions of views. He almost never looks like he’s enjoying himself. And yet, he keeps returning and keeps posting #relatable.
SBW v Paul Developments
After writing in a previous column that Jake Paul would be dumb to take on Sonny Bill Williams and that the fight won’t happen, there has been progress made on the potential bout.
SBW revealed that Paul’s management has reached out to his team. Then boxing promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that Paul was serious about the fight. And here’s Hearn trying to convince Paul to make the SBW fight happen:
I still don’t think it happens. SBW is too big and tall, and is too much of a threat of beating Paul – the last thing Paul wants to do as he looks to milk this boxing thing for all its worth. Williams is also way too earnest and nice to generate enough of the pre-fight hysterics Paul usually engages in to sell fights.
Saying that, I’m happy to be wrong as I’d definitely be watching if it happens – and so will millions of others.