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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Dunk

On May 14, 1987--11 days after Julius Erving's professional basketball career ended--I wrote three poems portraying the way I remember Julius Erving and the way I want others to remember him. The first poem--titled "Doc on the Break: Early 1970s"--depicts a young Erving skying for a one handed defensive rebound, galloping downcourt and dunking over the opposing team's big man.

This short, free verse poem is about the 1976 ABA Slam Dunk Contest, the first "official" dunk contest, when Erving palmed the ball while jogging theatrically from one end of the court to the other--seemingly measuring his steps--and then proceeded to sprint downcourt, jump from the free throw line and dunk the ABA's signature tri-color ball. Erving had performed the free throw line dunk before in games--including the 1972 ABA-NBA All-Star Game--but the 1976 dunk has become the iconic free throw line dunk, imitated by Michael Jordan and others but never duplicated in terms of originality and flair.

The Dunk

Doc started past mid-court
No one guarded him--
But no one really could, anyway--
And he started slowly,
Giant strides devouring the court.
Now Doc gained speed
And he approached the foul line.
He crossed the charity stripe
And treaded air for 15 feet.
Then came the dunk,
Bred of a finesse flight
And a powerful flick of the wrist.
The ball darted through the hoop
And basketball was a new game.

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posted by David Friedman @ 5:11 AM

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