In Sports Illustrated last week, writer Chris Ballard ingeniously decided to write about Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin from the perspective of his most famous victims: those whom he has dunked upon. There is one victim in particular whose victimization was so complete that you wondered if he’d ever get over it. He plays for the Knicks.
If you haven’t seen Griffin’s dunk over Timofey Mozgov from November yet, brace yourself.
It’s terrifying. You ready?
Okay, here goes:
Heavens. The one later on in that clip, of Danilo Gallinari flailing and ducking for cover, is rough, too. (Griffin actually says that the Gallo dunk is his favorite ever.) But it’s the Mozgov dunk that they both might end up being known for. It was so gruesome that after the game, as Ballard notes, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni asked the press to take it easy on Mozgov.
It is so emphatic, so emasculating, that Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni is only half-joking when he beseeches the media, “Don’t say anything to him.” The coach says of his reserve center, “Just keep it quiet.”
And the Knicks won that game.
So: Blake Griffin is back at the Garden tonight. This is a different Knicks team from then. In November, they were uncertain but starting to pull it together; the Clippers win was the third in a row, and the Knicks would go on to win ten of their next eleven. Now, the Knicks are static off the court but starting to settle on it: comfortably ensconced in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, wondering about Carmelo but holding down the proverbial fort. Now, Griffin is an All-Star and an amazing sideshow. And Mozgov is just now finding his spot in the rotation for the Knicks, making himself the useful player D’Antoni expected him to be all along. There’s no need for drama. It’s just a regular game.
But that picture is still there, Mozgov immortalized in the worst way possible. We just want him to make it through tonight, to survive. Hang in there, Comrade. We’re all on your side.