I know the lights were out so it was tough seeing Paul George’s 2nd round dunk in the 2012 NBA Dunk Contest but the dunk he did was a 360 windmill reminiscent of Vince Carter’s 360 from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. Here’s the funny thing about that dunk and Paul George’s performance that night. It was a great dunk and he was great at the event but since he wasn’t perceived to be a “great player” yet, the average sports fan didn’t care. The average sports fan that’s critical of the NBA dunk contest and wants to see Kobe and LeBron go at it in the ever changing event rather see great players do average dunks than “average” players do great dunks. This is why up and comer Paul George’s dunk contest performance was unappreciated and why MVP contender Paul George’s dunk last night is a tad overrated.
Up by 20 against the Clippers in the 4th quarter, Paul George got a steal and had half of the court to himself to throw down any type of dunk he wanted for the home crowd. He decided on the 360 windmill dunk that Vince Carter made famous in 2000 and George has done so many times in the past couple of years. The bench went crazy, the fans went crazy, the internet went crazy and a Vine video went viral first. Then the early YouTube cappers put it out and every blog rushed to put up the video with a one liner. Then the animated gifs came along with tons of people on Twitter calling it the best dunk of the year and other saying he should be in the NBA dunk contest.
Well, as already mentioned, George has already competed in the NBA dunk contest and declined to participate in it again. But for those people that would like to see George throw down that dunk again or a better variation of it in the future, I’m going to take you backwards and show you how many times he’s already done it.
July of 2011, a relatively unknown Paul George was throwing down dunks at the UCLA gym with JaVale McGee, Ryan Hollins and Nick Young (ignore the video title that says Blake Griffin was there because he wasn’t). There was windmills, off the glass dunks, elbow hangs but the best dunk was by Paul George who did a 360 windmill variation by going baseline and dunking it from under the rim.
At the 2002 NBA dunk contest, we were robbed of seeing some great dunk because Paul George was robbed. Paul George’s first dunk was one over 7’2 teammate Roy Hibbert but fans complained Roy ducked a little and served a launchpad. Then George executed a perfect 360 windmill in the dark while wearing glow in the dark clothing. Granted, it was hard for us to full appreciate it because we couldn’t see the dunk that well but imagine how hard it was for George to pull off a dunk, that people are calling the best of the year, when he could barely see. Due to the horrible formatting of the dunk contest, George was eliminated and our friend Jeremy Evans beat out last minute replacement Chase Budinger.
Later that year, August of 2002, Paul George and a bunch of other high flying NBA players like JR Smith, DeMar DeRozan, Dorrell Wright, Terrence Williams and John Wall played in a highlight filled Drew League game. that was highlighted by a 360 windmill dunk by Paul George.
Later that month, George joined LeBron James, Rudy Gay and Amare Stoudemire on a trip to China to participate in the Nike+ Festival of Sport event at Shanghai Stadium. Most fans were there just to see LeBron and maybe get a free pair of LeBron X sneakers but the highlight of the event was seeing Paul George throw down a 360 between the legs windmill. The dunk was so crazy that LeBron had to tweet about it.
When news got back to the states about George’s ability to pull off this dunk that people have only seen on YouTube by famous dunkers like Kenny Dobbs, people started realizing how many great dunks they were robbed of when George wasn’t able to do more than 2 dunks in the NBA dunk contest.
Atleast Pacers fans that were able to attend the 2012 Fan Jam event later that year were treated to some of those dunks. George, Lance Stephenson, Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green competed in an exceptional dunk contest that was highlighted by none other than Paul George who executed the 360 between the legs dunk that had LeBron so impressed.
The next sighting for a variation of this dunk was in Vegas during the Team USA mini-camp. Earlier this week, Paul George did an interview with FIBA.com and said one of his goals for 2014 is to play with Team USA. “It is always special to represent your country and it would be an honor for me to help Team USA win titles. I would like to win NBA titles, but I would also like to win gold medals.” I’m sure he will get his shot at winning a gold medal and from the way he and the Pacers are playing, they seem to have a great shot at a NBA title, but for right now, the day after throwing down another 360 windmill, it looks like he’s just going to have to settle for the title of “Best Dunk of the Year.”