As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History.
Today, Ben Rohrbach revisits the greatest missed dunk in basketball history, starring Von Wafer in 2011.
Somehow, Von Wafer achieved perfection on a missed dunk.
By way of Greece, the Florida State product joined a 2010-11 Boston Celtics squad coming off its second trip to the NBA Finals in three seasons. Before ever wearing green in earnest, Wafer found himself on the wrong end of a Delonte West sucker punch in the locker room during preseason. Thus began Wafer’s tenure in Boston.
Flash forward six months, and the Celtics were 55-25 entering the penultimate game of the season. With little chance of eclipsing the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings, Doc Rivers all but conceded the No. 2 seed to Miami by starting West, Wafer, Jeff Green, Glen Davis and Jermaine O’Neal against the lowly Washington Wizards.
A so-called scorer averaging all of 2.8 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting, Wafer made the first start of his C’s career opposite the Wizards after 56 previous appearances off the end of the bench.
He was given 44 minutes of playing time to prove himself. And 41 minutes into his night, he sure did.
Corralling a pass from Carlos Arroyo at the top of the key, Wafer had his moment in the sun with three minutes left in overtime and the Celtics up by two. An open lane to the basket between bystanders Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee offered an opportunity to unleash all the anger Wafer had built up in five years of failed tours with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
That’s when Von Wafer peaked.
There is nothing that’s not great about this missed dunk, and, yes, it deserves every bit of that double negative. Let’s really break this down for a moment, shall we?
Step 1: Wafer lets out a primal scream as his dunk attempt caroms off both sides of the rim, off the backboard and into the arms of O’Neal. This is only the beginning.
Step 2: Somehow not realizing he missed badly, Wafer takes two full seconds to pose for the cameras and stare down a D.C. crowd that, given the actual result of the play, seems very confused.
Step 3: Still not recognizing he missed a dunk he’s now celebrating, Wafer turns around, rams O’Neal and forces a turnover. He added imbecility to adding insult to injury.
Step 4: The close-up of a confounded Wafer mouthing an obscenity is the bow on this gift.
Naturally, Boston lost by one, and Miami clinched homecourt before the night was through. There’s a reason the Eucharist includes a Wafer. It’s a perfect body of work.
P.S. Last we saw Wafer, he was stomach-punching an opponent and hurling a chair into the crowd during a game in China this past February, so things are looking up.
More Dunk History:
• Shawn Kemp, Alton Lister and how memory works
• Chris Webber, Charles Barkley and a poster preserved
• Young Wolf Andrew Wiggins goes straight for Rudy Gobert's neck
• Rajon Rondo leaps past Dwight Howard, ascends to All-Star status
• Blake Griffin defines 'Mozgov,' picks up Stoudemire's mantle
• Vince Carter defies gravity, belief in the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest
• LeBron James rises up and Damon Jones 'gets banged on'
• Dwyane Wade welcomes Anderson Varejao to his 'Kodak moment'
• Paul George's 360 windmill causes stir on press row
• Michael Jordan, Mel Turpin and 'Was he big enough?'
• Dr. J 'jams the jinx,' makes Boston Garden sing different tune
• LeBron James takes flight, sends JET to crash landing
• J.R. Smith expresses himself by pulverizing Gary Neal
• Some of our friends' favorite dunks, Vol. 1: Chris Gethard, Hannibal Buress, Jensen Karp and more
• Some of our friends' favorite dunks, Vol. 2: Adam Pally, John Lurie, Daniel Van Kirk, Will Weldon and more
• Dunk History, Season 1: Our 2014 series, collected
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