COURTSIDE WITH COACH EDMONDS: The dunk is still exciting

The “DUNK” Is this display of athletic ability still Exciting, or Overrated?

 “Dunking does not display basketball skill—only height advantage.”  -Former Kansas Coach Phog Allen

Courtside fans how do YOU feel about this statement from a Hall of Fame Coach?

Dunking the basketball has come a long way since we began seeing it in games way back when, but the question that I’m asking is: does it take skill or height to make it legitimate?

Since the dunk’s inception when the first recorded one (by accident) occurred in 1936 – by Joe Fortenberry, a 6-foot-8-inch Texan who dunked during the Berlin Olympics – many fans have enjoyed the dunk, but purists looked at it as “showboating” or performing a feat that took extraordinarily little skill and has nothing to do with a player’s true ability to play the game of basketball.

For me, I can make the argument for BOTH sides! As a coach, I always enjoyed seeing players use their tremendous talents to do extraordinary things because I thought it was exciting and a momentum boost for those watching our teams play in the cracker box gym at Elmhurst High School. I can recall many instances where our teams would be flat and not playing particularly well and one of our “highflyers” (Joe Poindexter, James Hardy or Chad Edmonds) would “fly through the air with the greatest of ease” and slam one down sending our E-Zone student section into a frenzy and our opponents into demoralizing despair as we would take off into one of our patented 10-0 or 12-0 runs to get back into a game and ultimately win!

But enough about yesteryear, how about today’s dunkers? Do people still see dunking in the same way as it USED to be seen or has it become common place?

Now we see teams with big guys that are 7 foot, 7-foot-3, or even 7-foot-7 inches tall on higher levels just standing under the basket and without even jumping, slamming the ball into the hoop. Not much talent goes into that does it? Or how about the little 5-foot-8 or 5-9 guy that leaps up and throws one down as if HE were one of the big guys but doesn’t shoot or handle the ball particularly well. Does that still resonate with you? 

Now with the advancement of the women’s game, we are seeing females that are doing what was once thought of as unimaginable: DUNKING THE BASKETBALL! Now that’s something to behold right? I’m 6-6 and thought I had the ability to dunk the basketball. Back in the pre-historic days, dunking was never something that I worked on. I’d much rather spend time perfecting my jump shot and ballhandling to make myself better as a player.

Hmmmm… I wonder if that would have been true if I’d had a 40’ vertical jump? Okay I’m dreaming again.

This city has certainly seen its share of high-flyers and acrobatic dunkers throughout the rich history of the SAC, ACAC and now the NE8 and I’m sure many of you have your favorites (which I’d love to have you list in response to this article).

So, to answer the following questions: Is the dunk still exciting? I would say YES! Is it as exciting as it once was? I would say NO! Does is take a reasonable of amount of skill ? I would say, YES! Is it more exciting when big guys dunk than small guys? I would say NO! Should women be given more credit for being able to perform such a skill? I would empathetically say, YES! 

Courtside fans, I’ll just say this; reacting to seeing someone dunk a basketball will depend on your perspective of the game and what YOU see as exciting. If it moves you great, but if not then that’s fine too. But for me as a fan, coach, former player, tall guy and lover of the sport, keep doing what you do because I’m watching and waiting every game for it to happen. Unless it’s done against me, then that enthusiasm is somewhat tempered… just a little!

Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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