As human beings, we have a tendency to remember key historical moments as they relate to our own world. I remember where I was when I heard about JFK's Death. I remember what I was doing when I heard about 9/11. Etc. So to take this angle when talking about the Wizards' play of the year is both cliche and, well, out of place.
It was a Sunday night, and I was on my couch in my new apartment. The Wizards were playing the Lakers, and I'll admit that I wasn't giving the game my full attention. I was watching, sure, but I wasn't nearly as engaged as with most games. It was the Lakers on the end of a long road trip. I wasn't expecting much.
When I get disengaged like this, I usually do so at the end of possessions, especially those that look like they're going nowhere. The possession where Shaun Livingston dunked on Pau Gasol was one of those possessions. Mike Miller did one of those things that Mike Miller does too much, going away from Andray Blatche's screen to dribble to the baseline for no reason. As soon as Gasol closed him off, I zoned out a bit, because I figured nothing good would come thereafter. Miller tried to dump the ball off to Fabricio Oberto, but Oberto dropped it. Turnover, whatever. But Miller somehow tipped the ball to Livingston in the corner, and that's where things got interesting.
If you watch Livingston closely, you can see the wheels turning in his head. I got the ball. Pause. Hmm, I'm open, should I shoot it? Pause. No, I'm going to drive. He drives. Oh crap, Pau Gasol is there, what do I do? I guess I have to score over him. He jumps. Oh crap, I forgot Gasol is really tall - I can't let him block my shot. Maybe I can go under him? He ducks under. Wow, I might actually be able to dunk this, let me try. Dunks it. Oh crap, I'm going to fall awkwardly. Falls awkwardly. Wow, I'm actually feeling ok. Damn, I can play this game again!
It was almost like that Dwyane Wade commercial, where the shoulder angel and shoulder devil are talking to him. The angel was probably telling Shaun Livingston to just shoot a nice mid-range jump shot and avoid another terrible injury. The devil was probably telling him "screw it, just dunk it." Livingston listened to the devil, and at the end, both the angel and the devil were jumping for joy. (And yes, I see the irony in Livingston being the Clipper defender on Wade in that commercial).
Andohbytheway, the color commentator (Stu Lantz) was right - that dunk did wonders for Livingston's confidence. I don't think it's too crazy to say that Livingston's late-season surge wouldn't have been possible without that dunk. Here are his basic stats since that play (thanks to HoopData's game logs for the data).
12.3 points, 5.2 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 57% shooting, +34 plus/minus in 32 minutes per game
Pretty impressive, right? I'd say his confidence returned.
As for me, that dunk jolted me to life. You know those moments that you have at work or anywhere where it suddenly hits you that you should stop zoning out? That dunk was one of those moments for me. It took me a few minutes to digest what I just saw. Yes, that was Shaun Livingston who just dunked on Pau Gasol. Shaun Livingston! And if something like that is going to happen in the game, then it's probably time for me to start paying more attention.
And that's why I remember exactly where I was when Shaun Livingston dunked on Pau Gasol. That's why it's a worthy play of the year.