The Miami Heat played its first game of the season Wednesday night, taking down the Charlotte Hornets 104-94 in a game that featured the happy return of Chris Bosh, the starting five of Bosh, Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Hassan Whiteside finally playing together, and the return of Josh McRoberts from a knee injury.
But the moment of the night belonged to 19-year-old rookie Justise Winslow, who proceeded to not only have a stellar night defensively and a positive impact on the win at large but also managed to utterly devastate the entire Charlotte Hornets franchise with a ferocious dunk that sent the Richter scale on TILT, set off a tsunami warning, and could be heard from outer space, even though no sound exists in the vacuum of space.
The dunk was epic on many levels, including in the way it turned the entire Hornets team into a pillar of singed dust.
Let's break it down, shall we?
First off, the dunk came against the Hornets, the team run by the great Michael Jordan, who decided to not take Winslow in the draft, opting instead to taking Frank Kaminsky. Even more than that, multiple reports from draft night said the Boston Celtics so badly wanted to draft Winslow, they were willing to give Charlotte six draft picks to swap places with them so that Winslow could end up in green. Jordan scoffed at the idea and drafted Frank the Tank, allowing Winslow to fall into the loving arms of Pat Riley as the tenth overall pick.
So there was Riley on draft night, outdueling Michael Jordan and continuing the long storied tradition of sticking it to the hated Celtics good and proper.
Fast-forward to last night and it all came culminated in this vicious one-hand thunderclap from young Winslow from Duke, followed by a primal scream that seemed to signify that
Some key observations:
- You have to love Hassan Whiteside's positioning here. He's roaming the paint in case someone wants to throw it
in tohim or in case someone misses a shot. His giant Ent-like presence also manages to clog things up slightly for the Hornets defense, who are worried the big man is going to flush one down himself. This gave Winslow a slight window where he blasted past Jeremy Lin from the baseline and walked into the sky like a Basketball Messiah to deliver the glory.
- Once that first step came after the catch, Winslow knew exactly what he was going to do. He mapped it out in his head in mere seconds, scanning the floor like the Terminator and then locking in on his target.
- Jeremy Lin had no chance. Winslow caught the pass from the corner and left Lin in his wake. Lin tried to keep up, but he looked like a guy who got caught in the doors of a bus as it sped away from the bus stop. It's not his fault. Winslow is a machine, Lin a mere mortal. In the end, all that was left was the charred remains of his overly gooped-up hair and a pair of sneakers.
- Once Winslow jetted past Lin, the other Hornet defenders collapsed in on the rookie to A.) try to save Jeremy Lin from meeting his ultimate demise by being set on fire and B.) try to stop Winslow. Both these things would end up being futile gestures.
- Seven-foot Cody Zeller and six-foot-ten Al Jefferson, seeing Lin become toast, came hard at Winslow, who then managed to elevate above both big men.
- Winslow contorts his body — in the air, mind you — and holds the basketball in his left hand to avoid the tree-branch arms of Zeller and Jefferson from crushing his forearm and knocking the ball out of his hand.
- In the end, it was speed versus brute force. Speed won. RIP, brute force.
- After flushing it down, Winslow had to pause and scream.
- The Heat bench went absolutely bonkers. Dwyane Wade had to be restrained. Birdman let out a yelp. Dragic leapt from his seat. Everyone jolted into the air after the assault on the basket.
- The dunk ignited the American Airlines Arena crowd and actually woke up what had been a listless Heat offense. Miami would go on to dominate the rest of the game.
- Mario Chalmers wanted the ball.
- Look at him calling for it.
- He was probably mad because Justise didn't pass him the ball.
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