Nowadays, an overzealous celebration or a simple stare at a defender who just got dunked on is enough to warrant a tech. Back in the early 90s, you could celebrate however you wanted — with your teammates, towards the fans and even the opposing team — and the refs wouldn’t blow the whistle. No player took advantage of this liberty more than Shawn Kemp. Not even a young Shaq, with his rim-hanging and kung-fu doing antics, competed with the Reign Man when it came to excessive (but oh so awesome) celebrations.
For an example, let’s go back to Game 5 of the 1993 WCSF, when high-flying Robert Horry had the assignment of guarding the higher-flying Kemp. Kemp had three monster dunks in the game and celebrated each with a memorable motion that would surely get any player 20-years later a tech without hesitation from the refs.
Dunk 1: Horry tried to take a charge and ended up on a poster by Kemp. I mean he literally was made into a poster. This dunk has become one of the most popular Kemp dunk pics ever and the scream that Kemp does afterward has been put on sportscards and t-shirts. I even had the pleasure of bringing this dunk up during a dinner with Horry and Kemp.
Dunk 2: After a turnover by current coach Scotty Brooks, former NBA coach Nate McMillan passes to a running Kemp, who gets the and-1 dunk and celebrates by waving his arms back and forth in an odd mechanical way that represented many of Kemp’s mannerisms. This is the one celebration that I don’t think would be called today.
Dunk 3: Kemp gets an offensive rebound, goes straight up with a reverse dunk and celebrates by hanging on the rim with one hand while grabbing “deez nuts (this happened months after the release of Dr Dre Chronic album, which had people everywhere saying this phrase).” Kemp added the testicle grab to his celebration repertoire a year earlier, but after this instance, he must have received a warning from Stern because I can’t recall another instance from Kemp.
I remember Shawn Kemp receiving a few fines throughout his career but never one for taunting a defender, then again, Kemp has to be the only player to ever get (a well deserved) dap from a defender after dunking on them. You can check out that dunk along with some other great and disrespectful dunks from Kemp in the following videos.
- 0:22: the infamous pointing
- 1:05: more ball grabbing
- 1:37: two dunks on Zo
- 2:10: yelling at Barkley
- 2:35: sitting on Rodman’s shoulders
- 8:00 (2nd video): staring down at Brian Williams
MY FIRST & LAST KEMP MIX (2003 & 2018)
If you only have one minute to watch Shawn Kemp highlights… pic.twitter.com/fWAgcxEgBz
— David Astramskas (@redapples) October 6, 2018