HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re in the mood for dunks this weekend.
We can’t help ourselves. We are easily entertained here at the hideout by these savage acts against the rim that provide no extra points and little else than the primal pleasure of seeing gigantic men do hideous things to metal.
It dawned on us earlier this week, when Hall of Famer and dunk legend Dominique Wilkins stopped by to visit the The Jump, that there is no clever statistical appreciation for the slam dunk and the games and lives it has changed (when executed properly).
So when ‘Nique was asked if what he’s recognized for most these days, the 26,000-plus points he scored or his famous battles with Michael Jordan (and others) in those dunk contests in the 1980s, he didn’t have to answer.
And it’s ridiculous to think that a player capable of dunking in a more spectacular fashion than almost every other human should have to apologize for that being his calling card all these years later.
That’s why we’re celebrating the slam dunk this weekend, with some of the games most exciting artists (do the names Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Amar’e Stoudemire mean anything to you?) featured prominently on the must-watch list known around here as HT’s League Pass Spotlight: Weekend Watching (sorry, there is no discount for anyone that can dunk on a regulation rim, but you can click here to make sure you don’t miss a second of the action):
NEW YORK at WASHINGTON 7 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: Knock the Knicks all you want, but we just can’t stop watching this team. All of Amar’e Stoudemire’s critics who said he would be lost without Steve Nash either undervalued Stoudemire terribly or didn’t give Raymond Felton the credit he deserves. As good as Stoudemire has been (six straight 30-plus point games during the Knicks’ six-game win streak), Felton has been nearly as good. Would we prefer they be tested by a more formidable opponent? Sure. But that will come later. Right now, like most Knicks fans, we’re just going to continue to enjoy the show.
ORLANDO at UTAH 9 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: The last time these two teams hooked up (Nov. 10 in Orlando) the Jazz were in the midst of a sick string of comeback wins, and they made sure to stick the Magic right in the middle of that mix. No one here is suggesting that the Magic would be party to something as petty as the revenge factor for a game played in the first month of the season. But when you only play a team twice during the regular season and you’ve already lost to them once at your place … well, maybe we are suggesting exactly that. The Magic need something to motivate them these days. They might as well try revenge.
HANG TIME GRIZZLIES at LA CLIPPERS 3:30 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: Forget their record. Trust us, if Blake Griffin is playing, you need to watch. The fact that the Clippers are playing host to the Hang Time Grizzlies makes this afternoon tilt that much sweeter here at the hideout. Our guys finally appear to be ready to play the kind of ball we had hoped they would earlier. It’s going to take another couple of weeks of solid play to get back into the playoff conversation, but we’re confident that Rudy Gay, Z-Bo and the crew can get the job done. It’s too bad it has to happen at the expense of Griffin, who is already in the HT fave five list of players to watch this season.
MIAMI at SACRAMENTO 10:30 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: The Kings recorded their first double-digit win of the season Wednesday night when they beat down the Wizards. The Heat, meanwhile, win by double digits on the regular. In fact, of their 15 wins this season, 12 have been by double digits, most in the league thus far. We don’t have to consult a soothsayer to guess that the number could climb to 13 by the end of this night, if the Kings can’t muster the focus and energy to match the star power of the sizzling Heat. It would have been fun to see a healthy Tyreke Evans try to match wits with Dwyane Wade and/or LeBron James. But Evans is injured and the Kings have off the court issues that continue to cloud their focus this season.
DENVER at NEW YORK Noon ET
Why we’re watching: Knicks fans dreaming what their team will look like with Stoudemire, Felton and Carmelo Anthony on the floor together Madison Square Garden will get their wish, sort of. They will all be on the floor, just on opposite sides. But that shouldn’t stop the creative members of the fan base dreaming about what could be in the trade/free agent future. We’re just interested to see what kind of show Anthony will put on at the Garden, where he has admitted he loves to perform.
ORLANDO at LA CLIPPERS 9:30 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: Just so we are clear, any basketball game involving big men with last names like Griffin and (Dwight) Howard requires your immediate attention. This could be a preview of the slam dunk competition we’ll see at All-Star Weekend in couple of months, though we’re not sure if Howard has hung up his dunk cap for good or not. Even more interesting, though, will be the bravado at the basket match between Griffin and Howard. Griffin attacks the rim with an attitude unmatched by any other player currently in the league, while Howard protects the paint and the rim as if his life depended on it. This is the perfect way to finish off a splendid weekend.