March 23, 2011
Rational basketball fans often complain that too many of today's big men block the ball out of bounds instead of controlling it and starting a fast break. That was the favored play of Bill Russell, the best defender in basketball history, and it's definitely a lot better than giving the ball back to your opponent with time left on the shot clock.
Of course, it's even better if you grab the ball entirely instead of just controlling it off the backboard. That's exactly what the Wizards' JaVale McGee(notes) did Tuesday night against Wes Matthews of the Blazers, completely grabbing the ball instead of knocking it away from the basket. It's the best block of the year, and maybe even better than this LaPhonso Ellis classic from 1994. In fact, it's such an impressive block that it could arguably be called a steal. Or, heck, let's just give JaVale both on the stat sheet. He earned it.
McGee is one of the more frustrating players in the league, an athletic dynamo who alternates looking like a future force inside with seeming like he'll never learn the basic tenets of post play. The best way to approach him, though, might just be to accept the unreal feats like this block and be thankful he at least looks this good every so often. If only every disappointing big man could make a block like this one even just once in his career.