About Internet videos, rap music at basketball games and ?

There are two Internet videos I?ve been watching almost daily since the first time I saw them.

One is an animation of the various internet browser logos acting like morons until Firefox finally gets fed up with the rest of them and tells them all to shut up.

The other is a montage of Dwight Howard?s dunks at the NBA all-star game. The Superman ?dunk? probably would have been the coolest to watch live, without instant replay, but the lefty-tap-to-the-glass-to-the-right-hand-jam is without question the single greatest dunk I?ve ever seen. I just wish it had a better name.

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You ever wonder why there?s so much rap music played at basketball games? I did some research. The connection between the sport and the sound goes back at least into the ?70s.

I don?t know whether Darryl Dawkins helped funk music make the quantum leap to the lyrics-driven braggadocio of the hip-hop age in November 1979, when he named his most famous slam dunk something like ?the Chocolate Thunder-flying, Robinzine-crying, teeth-shaking, glass-breaking, rump-roasting, bun-toasting, wham-bam, glass-breaker-I-am jam.?

What is certain is that since then, the connection between the game and the music has only grown stronger?and not just at the NBA level.

What Brian Burwell (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and Michael Wilbon (Washington Post) wrote in the wake of the 2004 Ron Artest melee by now applies at every level of amateur basketball: NCAA, NAIA, KCAC, MCAA.

Burwell wrote: NBA marketing people ?thought they were getting Will Smith and LL Cool J. But now they?ve discovered the dark side of hip-hop has also infiltrated their game, with its ?bling-bling? ostentation, its unrepentant I-gotta-get-paid ruthlessness, its unregulated culture of posses, and the constant underlying threat of violence….?

Wilbon wrote: ?The marketing folks might not have realized that if you welcome in the mainstream group OutKast, you might also have to take the decidedly vulgar Young Buck. You welcome in the music, you also get the misogyny and other themes of thug life that are admittedly the prerequisite values of the hip-hop culture.?

With all of that said, I?m not sure it?s such a bad thing to have rap music remain a substantial part of the way we ?do? basketball in Marion County. But it is certainly a choice that the folks in charge of such things should be making with their critical thinking caps on.

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Even if you ignore all the other great dunks, this year was probably the pinnacle moment for the Slam Dunk Contest, and I don?t think it will be topped. Ever.

Not in my lifetime, or yours, or Captian Kirk?s. Unless LeBron comes up with an Ozymandias costume for next year.

That?s right, I just went Percy Bysshe Shelly all up in here: ?Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!?

* * *

There?s a certain intentional irony to going all Percy Bysshe Shelly up in here. The poem is about a ruined statue half-buried in the desert and reflects on the pointlessness and ephemeral nature of Ozymandias? greatest works.

But as pointless works go, slam dunk trumps giant statue every day of the week. I?d much rather watch Zach Vanselow and Mike Rousell go through their usual warmups than go on an Indiana Jones expedition to Egypt.

In fact, if I tripped over a genie lamp, I?d waste at least one of my wishes trading bodies with Howard or Dawkins, or Dominique Wilkins so I could make a DVD of myself inventing a new dunk.


Because the closest I?ve ever come to inventing a new dunk using my own body involved a mini-hoop and a bunk bed. And I was just plain lucky it didn?t involve a trip to the emergency room.

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