Daniel Gafford's pregame alley-oop ritual originated 'out of nowhere'

Gafford's pregame alley-oop ritual originated 'out of nowhere' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Before every NBA game, many players have certain pregame rituals and superstitions they'll do during warm-ups to get ready for tip-off. Some players bump music, others enjoy dancing and some meditate. For Daniel Gafford, his pregame ritual is a unique one that gets the crowd involved.

Gafford is a high-flyer, producing iconic and ferocious dunks during his third season with the Wizards, and for him it all starts during pre-game warm-ups.

Gafford goes into the crowd both during home and road games and brings one lucky fan onto the court to throw him an alley-oop lob.

“Usually we always have one of the guys who are working throw it up,” Gafford said. “We had a fan come the first time and it kind of stuck and now we just added it to the ritual.”

It does not matter if it’s one of his teammates, coaches, or even a random fan from the crowd; just throw the ball up and "The Landlord" will find a way to slam it home.

In January, the Wizards had a road game in New Orleans where Gafford delivered arguably his best game of the season. It all started during pre-game for Gafford when he noticed a fan holding a sign that read, “El Dorado Wildcats love [heart sign] D. Gafford.”

Gafford played ball at El Dorado High School in Arkansas and realized the fan who was holding the sign was the mother of one of the school's band members. The couple Gafford brought onto the court got to take a picture with him and participate in his iconic pre-game ritual as well.

Gafford’s love for basketball is a given but his passion for music is strong as well. Gafford was a member of his high school’s band back at El Dorado, where he played the clarinet and his love for playing musical instruments has only grown ever since.

“I told her [Gafford’s wife] I was going to make her a promise,” Gafford said. “For sure I’m going to get me another drum set, I’m going to try to learn guitar because I want to learn the electric guitar - saxophone, I got to knock the rest off of my clarinet of course because she wants me to do the clarinet…I want to learn how to play keyboard.”

Gafford has made his presence felt this season with his rim protection, high-flying dunks and ability to put himself in the right place at exactly the right time. He's averaging 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in about 19.5 minutes per game as the Wizards enter the final stretch of their regular seasons schedule and push toward the playoffs.