Getting owned is rough. Getting owned on national TV sucks even more. Getting owned on national TV by a youth is the absolute worst, but it comes with the job when you’re an NBA player. The question is how you’ll deal with it.
There are three different logical conclusions to an “ah, damn, I got dunked on pretty hard” type of play.
The first is the most common. Just walk it off. After getting dunked on, you can kinda just jog ass down to the other end of the court. Don’t make it a scene. Just acknowledge it happened, let the viral clip live for a day or two, and then watch it fade out of existence. Plenty do this. It mitigates the degree to which you got owned.
See Jusuf Nurkic’s reaction to one of the best LeBron James dunks ever, which came at the expense of his soul.
The second option is rarer, but comes off best. Fall in love with the dunk that hurt you. Hyping up how hard a rim-rattling dunk owned you is hard, but makes for excellent, replay-able banter on TV and with teammates and media. Failure is relatable, and what better way to recover than to admit defeat and laugh along. It earns respect among peers, fans and with the youth who tried to get you to delete all of your accounts. It’s what Kevin Love did just a few weeks ago when Ja Morant nearly landed the dunk of the year.
Morant missed the dunk, but the basketball world was still in awe of what he’d done — and so was Love. He helped Morant up and talked to the Grizzlies’ bench about what had happened. “He legit jumped over me,” Love said after the game. “I was so glad he missed that dunk.” Then a reporter asked if he’d have helped Morant up if the dunk actually went down. “Yeah, I might go streaking, throw my jersey off and say ‘I’m done. I’m done with this basketball thing. I’ve met my end.’”
Then he reenacted what Memphis’s entire bench looked like after he stood up from the dunk attempt.
Go down laughing.
The third possible reaction is to get angry at the youth who inflicted damage, and this comes with consequences. This might help your relationship with fellow NBA olds, but will hurt your public image. It’ll also put you at risk for getting owned again by Gen Z. That’s what Robin Lopez did after getting dunked on by the Timberwolves’ rookie, Jarrett Culver.
Going Full Boomer on the court is never advisable, and even Lopez’s teammates didn’t rush to his aid. Yes, the circumstances were a bit different here than in the Morant case, as Culver definitely talked a whole lotta crap after finishing that dunk, but Lopez hardly took it in stride. He chased Culver, and pointed in his direction, going Snitch Chris Paul levels to make sure the Wolves wing earned a technical foul.
After the game, Culver’s coach, 33-year-old Ryan Saunders, said he “I love it. I love it. Everything. I loved it.”
So really, the only person here who got Big Mad was Lopez. Whereas Morant might be more hesitant to ruin Love’s career in the future, Culver now has added reason to do the opposite. In fact, he might’ve recruited Morant by now. Lopez might become the biggest dunk target in the league. All because he wasn’t able to accept that he got owned.
Take notes, NBA olds. You could be next.