Stinkface Chronicles: Lawson Order
Some people never learn. D.J. Mbenga may be one of them.
Now, D.J. is a good guy and he makes a decent living as the backup center for world champion Los Angeles Lakers, but there's a reason he's a backup center. Besides a talent deficiency, Mbenga is not quick and therefore slow to rotate on help defense and recover on pick-and-rolls.
This often puts him in an awkward position, that position being Mbenga on a poster on his keister.
Such was the case again Friday when Nuggets rookie Ty Lawson went medieval on Mbenga.
(The pair of pliers and the blowtorch after the jump.)
Mbenga, Blake Griffin's foil in our first Stinkface Chronicles, now not only has the dubious distinction of being our first two-time dunk victim -- and the only one to be dunked on by rookies, who usually serve as the dunked upon -- but also he is the first to suffer from a relatively new affliction: triple-broadcast stinkface.
That's right, there are three YouTube-worthy clips of the barely 6-foot Lawson sticking that one-foot of difference between him and the 7-foot Mbenga right where the sun don't shine. To be fair, we need to call out Josh Powell as well, as he was also slow to check Lawson as he slalomed through the Lakers' defense.
But it was Mbenga with the foul and his taking the impromptu courtside seat that makes him the object of our breakdown.
Clip No. 1 -- ESPN
This was the broadcast most of the country saw as the Nuggets exacted a little early season revenge on the Lakers for last year's Western Conference final beat down with a 28-point win. But it was Lawson's late-game Stinkface that most people remember.
And for good reason, because Lawson did three amazing things in one play.
First, the drive. The Nuggets were already up 102-79 with less than 1:40 to go in the contest when Lawson used a soft pick on the left wing, crossed-over Mbenga and then drove his way to Stinkface immortality. Lawson had a step on Mbenga, who trailed the rookie into the lane.
At the nine-second mark of the video, the second amazing thing happened. Taking two steps after his dribble, Lawson launches himself from between the broken circle and the restricted area (LeBron James take-off territory) with Mbenga on his left. Ain't no stoppin' Lawson now, but Mbenga gallantly tries, fails.
And of course, the third amazing thing was the finish itself. Mbenga, using his longer frame, tries to come across Lawson's body to thwart the dunk attempt. Lawson, however, is too far gone and far too determined to let any mban get in his way. You know the rest: Mbenga gets a piece of Lawson, but not the ball and they tumble together to the court.
The whole sequence lasts for 14 seconds, but ESPN replayed it three times in the next 90 seconds and at the 27-second mark, a replay occurs in conjunction with one shown on the video board at the Pepsi Center. Listen to the crowd. It may be the best aural reaction to a dunk this season.
It sounds as if they've witnessed a Dumpster punch: something so wrong that they feel slightly guilty about taking pleasure at it having been perpetrated in their presence.
Then again, that's at the heart of a Stinkface philosophy: it's so right that someone was so wronged.
Of course, the Nuggets bench loved that a rookie delivered the goods other than the Krispy Kremes for a change. Kenyon Martin was as happy as if his mom dunked on Mark Cuban, Denver coach George Karl has a bemused look on his face and at the 1:15 mark, ESPN shows Carmelo Anthony making a classic stinkface. What's that smell? Nasty greatness, that's what that is.
Clip No. 2 -- Altitude
Altitude, the Nuggets' local broadcaster, also had the game. In the above clip (if you can make it through the first 13 seconds of Nuggets-fluff), analyst Scott Hastings screams: "Look at the bench. Look at the Nuggets' bench!"
Yes, look because Chauncey Billups can't bear to. Mr. Big Shot is so moved by Lawson's larceny of Mbenga's manhood, he has to cover his face with a towel. Chauncey's never dunked like that, and he has every right to live vicariously through his understudy.
Angle No. 1 v2.0 – NBA.com HD
And lest you think we're being too harsh with Mbenga, take it up with his teammates. Roll any of the three clips again and watch the fourth Laker on the bench. Please.
I don't know who it is (Ron-Ron? Mr. Kardashian?), but said Laker does the smelling salt-reaction (quick jerk of the head), turns away (Because he can't stand the sight of a teammate getting housed like that? Because he's laughing too hard?) and then leans across another Laker to grab Kobe Bryant's arm (Hold me!).
Hold me, indeed.
Dwyane Wade on Anderson Varejao
There are many things to appreciate about this one: Wade himself, that it's Varejao getting the brunt of it (I like Varejao, but it is fun to see him get legitimately run over instead of him flopping to the floor), that Varejao tries to block it, but doesn't come close, the normally sedate American Airlines Arena crowd popping up out of their seats as one and Marv Albert's call (which is instantly zero-summed by Reggie Miller's "analysis" -- Kodak moments are supposed to be good memories, not posterizations, Reg...) to name a few.
But the two best things happen quickly after Wade and Varejao hit the deck. Wade's dunk is so powerful, Varejao doubles over as if he's been socked in the gut. Look at how the Cav lands, jackknifed against the stanchion. He's lucky he didn't end up in Biscayne Bay.
Also, at the end, Wade "A.I.-ed" Andy. Remember when Allen Iverson (when he was good, and relevant) stepped over Tyronn Lue in Game 1 of the 2001 Finals? Wade does it to Varejao, but without the disdainful look and foot stomp.
That's OK. The dunk was enough of a statement.