In the past few years, a few incredibly talented athletes have done something so athletically difficult that we'd never quite seen it before.
Dwight Howard did it in the dunk contest. Blake Griffin did it over Timofey Mozgov. Thursday night, DeAndre Jordan did it over Marco Bellineli.
A normal dunk requires a player to pass a ball with a nine-inch diameter through a rim 10 feet in the air. To comfortably do that, they have to get the tip of their hand almost 11 feet in the air. That's really impressive!
But what Howard, Griffin, and Jordan did requires even more elevation. They're throwing the ball downwards through the hoop from a distance. That means the ball had to start high enough that it could travel downwards at a steady angle for several feet and still go through the rim. Oh, and once they're up there, they have to throw the ball hard and accurately through the hoop. A very slim percentage of people can dunk, and of these elite athletes, an even slimmer percentage can dream of doing what they did.
However, some people don't care about the cool basketball thing. They only care about one thing: telling you that the cool basketball thing wasn't a dunk.
@sbnation it's not even a dunk— mj03 (@mogaytwisted) February 20, 2015
@CBSSports that wasn't a dunk. His hand never touched the rim.— alexgranadeno (@alexgranadeno) February 20, 2015
@BleacherReport not even a dunk— Jared (@jroff5) February 20, 2015
@SBNationGIF that's not a dunk— Michael Reinhardt (@mreinhardt11) February 20, 2015
If you look at the tweets they're responding to, you'll notice NONE OF THEM ACTUALLY CLAIM THE PLAY IN QUESTION IS A DUNK. These people just see this really cool thing and are instinctively driven to tell the world that it is not a dunk.
These are the Not A Dunk Truthers. On the rare occasion this physical magic trick occurs, they surge out the woodwork to tell us that they're not impressed.
I cannot understand these people, for two main reasons:
Nowhere does it say a dunk requires you to touch the rim
The premise of this argument is that somewhere, there is a definition of a dunk, and it specifies that for a shot to be considered a dunk, you have to touch the rim with your hand. So let's search for this definition:
The NBA defined the dunk in a glossary a few years ago -- let's see what they say:
Dunk: A shot thrown downward through the basket, with one or two hands. Also: slam, slam-dunk, jam
Huh. Let's check a dictionary or something. How's it going, Merriam-Webster:
A shot in basketball made by jumping high into the air and throwing the ball down through the basket
Hmmm, not helpful. Random House, you're up:
A shot in which a player near the basket jumps with the ball and attempts to thrust it through the basket with one hand or both hands held above the rim.
[Basketball] Score by shooting the ball down through the basket with the hands above the rim.
None of these definitions says anything about touching the rim with your hand. They all specify that you have to be above the rim and throw the ball down. The only definition I could find that made any reference at all to the fact that you have to touch the rim came from Wikipedia:
A slam dunk, also dunk or dunk shot, is a type of basketball shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air, controls the ball(s) above the horizontal plane of the rim, and guides the ball(s) downward through the basket with one or both hands contacting the rim.
However, this only exists because someone added the clause about touching the rim in Dec. 2014, changing the phrase "one or both hands over the rim" to "one or both hands contacting the rim." (He also changed "propels" to "guides" and added the phrase "controlling the ball," just to make it ultra-clear throwing is not okay.) This Not A Dunk Truther actually changed the definitions of what dunks are so that his was accurate.
The problem with discounting these dunks on a technicality is that it's not actually a technicality that exists. It's manufactured. Y'all are holding up a blank sheet of paper and pointing at it and authoritatively stating that Section 5C, Paragraph 3 of The Official Dunk Code invalidates these dunks.
The thing that's happening is awesome and we're complaining about definitions
Some people see a guy throwing a ball into a hoop from 12 feet in the air, feel it fits the majority of the things we'd associate with dunks, and say it's a dunk. Others note that most dunks they've seen feature a hand touching a rim and think this new thing shouldn't be considered a dunk. These two sides can very easily, peacefully coexist in disagreement. These are just sports opinions.
What seems inarguable is that this thing is an awesome display of physical ability. It's a feat so impressive that only a fraction of the fraction of people who can dunk can pull it off. It's a thunderous display of aggression.
And yet every time this unmistakably incredible thing happens, people show up to debate the definitions of sports terminology.
Please, please, please chill for just a moment. Your opinion on whether or not this cool thing is a certain thing is irrelevant. Everybody else is trying to enjoy how cool the cool thing is. This is like if your friend came home and told you they hooked up last night, and you relentlessly grilled him about exactly what happened so that you could be certain that his hookup falls under your definition of what a "hookup" is. Can't you just be happy for your friend for a second?
In conclusion, I am concerned about your inability to find joy in life, and sincerely hope I never have to interact with you in a social environment.