Anthony Edwards, the first overall pick in the latest NBA draft, delivered the dunk of the year last night against the Toronto Raptors. It came in a game that his Minnesota Timberwolves lost and highlighted some of the early struggles Edwards has had acclimating to the professional theater. Both of the above sentences are undeniably true. So, through that lens, everyone participating in the tiresome Dunk Discourse is correct.
First, let's examine just what Edwards did. After receiving a pass in the corner, he made a direct beeline to the hoop, where he encountered poor Yuta Watanabe, who he promptly posterized into oblivion. The visuals are incredible, of course, but what sets this slam apart is the sound. It's as if were created by an over-exuberant foley artist angling for industry recognition.
In the basest terms, it was awesome. The exact type of athletic majesty we turn into sports hoping to catch a glimpse of every now and then. Of course, like every other spectacular dunk in basketball history, it counted for only two points, meaning it did no more in the pursuit of winning than a pedestrian 8-foot hook shot that rattles around before going down.
Toronto went on to outscore the Timberwolves 28-17 in the fourth quarter to win, 86-81. Edwards managed to make only two of his 13 other shot attempts. He missed the mark on all seven of this three-point tries and posted a -13 plus/minus.
Anyone who dared point this out on Twitter was swiftly and efficiently buried because no one likes to find vinegar in their Corn Flakes and there's no room ever for two things to be true at the same time. And yes, it's not the most fun thing to bring up that Edwards stunk and his team lost, but it's something worth bringing up since the ultimate goal of sports is to win the given game.
Among those who thought Edwards should have played better ant the dunk was largely a hollow, if not spectacular deviation, was Edwards himself.
Those continuing to dunk on the dorks who brought this up in real-time are conveniently ignoring Edwards giving credence to the idea because they aren't athletic enough to dunk on the actual dunker. And around and around the cycle will go with people simplifying the opposing side to a comically reductive level.
Of course, Edwards kind of has to say this even if, deep down, he had trouble sleeping last night because how could anyone sleep after doing something so primally cool?
So no one is really wrong here. Contextualizing Edward's highlight-reel play in the broader story of the game is what journalists get paid to do. Watching it 10,029 times and making memes about it to distract from the pedestrian nature of life is what consumers do for free. There's room for both things.
It certainly seems way more fun to just enjoy a dunk for a dunk's sake but sports consumption is like any other art consumption. It's there to engage with on any level one wishes. Whether that be surface-level and immediate or wide-angle and scholarly, there are limitless points of entry.
Allow me to humble suggest following your own path and going down the one that pulls you in organically. Perhaps there's more joy in just enjoying your own prism than trying to angle other's so the light refracts in a uniform way.