Did LeBron James or Iman Shumpert have the better Game 1 dunk?
Using the scales of difficulty, authority and swag, Shump outshined The King
In the first quarter of Cleveland’s 116-105 win, the Cavaliers teammates each threw down NASTY, highlight-reel dunks that sent Twitter timelines into frenzies. First up to show off his high-flying acrobatics was James, who caught an alley-oop off the backboard from Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving to throw down the one-handed jam. Minutes later, Shumpert joined the fun. Slicing from the wing to the basket, he rose up, cocked the ball back and flushed it through the net with brute force.
Both plays were magical, but which one produced the better dunk? Let’s break them down, grading each on 10-point scales for difficulty, authority and swag. This is going to be a close one.
king james off the glass
James was the catalyst of this play in a skillful three-phase sequence: 1. He swiped the ball from Serge Ibaka’s reach with his off hand. 2. Then he prevented Kyle Lowry from getting it back with a baby crossover to his dominant hand. 3. He had the presence of mind to poke it ahead to Irving to commence the fast break. Once Irving got some separation from Lowry, he made a quick glance behind him and immediately knew what James wanted. What a perfect combination of sound defense, instinctive communication and pure athleticism.
The pass from Irving was a little strong, so James had to awkwardly contort his body to grab the ball with his left hand and put it away. As a result, the dunk wasn’t as powerful as what we’re used to seeing from James. Nonetheless, it was pretty authoritative.
How often do you see a player catch an alley-oop off the glass in a game? Rarely. So it was like we got to see a unicorn on the court in Game 1 — a 6-foot-8, 250-pound unicorn named LeBron James. (Also, a few bonus points to James for celebrating a play later by pretending to drink a vendor’s beer.)
shump down the lane
On a drive to the basket, Irving got stuck in no man’s land after picking up his dribble in the middle of the paint. An open Shumpert bailed him out, catching the ball in stride at the 3-point line and driving down the lane, which parted like the Red Sea as he made his way to the basket. All it took was two dribbles and, boom — Shumpert did what he does.
How hard Shumpert dunked the basketball is summed up in one player’s reaction. Ibaka thought about rising up with him to contest the attempt. Then he thought to himself, nah, bruh. That wise decision saved him from being posterized.
The stare-down. The eternally impeccable hair. Again, the dunk. God bless Shumpert for everything he did on this play.
Shumpert wins this battle of the dunks over James. But really, the only loser in Game 1 was Toronto. *sips beer*