#LetNormDunk — It’s Powell’s turn to carry on the only good Raptors tradition
Hardcore Raptors fans probably fell in love with Norman Powell sometime between the narrow win over Portland or the demolition against Milwaukee, but most fans learned the name in Game 5 of the Pacers series.
In case anyone forgot, that’s when Powell busted out the lean dunk.
I’ve never heard any arena as loud as the ACC that night. My ears popped. I was 14 rows back in section 110 that night courtesy of a sweet connect through a longtime friend. I saw the steal, I saw Powell pull away as Paul George gave up on the play, and like 15,000 others in the the stands wearing cartoon beaver shirts, I lost my mind when he threw it down.
The Raptors completed a 15-point comeback with that dunk, they took hold of the series on that dunk.
If you didn’t know Norman Powell before that dunk, he demanded that you never forget. He dunked his way into Raptors lore with that play.
He has gained recognition, now comes the fame with the next step: Powell should participate in the 2017 Slam Dunk Contest in New Orleans.
What’s in Powell’s arsenal?
No running start, two steps into a windmill? That’s really tough. I’ve give that a 45.
A full windmill. Would have been nicer if he threw it down with two hands, but check the elevation on that one. That’s where being 6-foot-4 helps — Powell really looks like he’s gliding.
Want two hands? Powell can do that. Here’s a two-handed reverse windmill oop. Aaron Gordon did this one at the Slam Dunk Contest in Toronto.
Here’s the windmill in-game. Powell’s just so damn smooth with it, and yet he still manages to throw down with force. Bonus points for beating the clock and for beating the shit out of the Sixers.
Jumping over dudes
Classic dunk, but there’s so much Powell could do with it. Imagine if he donned a Vince Carter USA jersey, then dunked over a cardboard cutout of Frederic Weiss? That would be close to a 50.
Here’s another one of (afro)Powell jumping over someone. This was back in high school. He crushed the other dude who was in this contest. It wasn’t close.
Between the legs
More from (afro)Powell as he goes between the legs. He needs to throw it down with a little more force and put a little more flair into it, but that’s a really solid contest dunk.
The one-handed power jam
This is Powell’s go-to move for in-game dunks. So long as he can gather with two feet, Powell can pretty much power through anyone. Throw in some tantric spasms at the end of that dunk and it’s pretty much every Russell Westbrook dunk, ever. UCLA represent.
Same move, only with a pretty crossover before taking off. The whole sequence is just so damn smooth.
And of course, there was the lean dunk against Indiana. What’s great about that dunk is everything — but in particular, by taking off from so far out, Powell’s trajectory carries him through the peak of his jump so he ends up falling into the basket. The hangtime lasts just long enough to build tension before he snaps it with the slam.
A Raptors tradition
Before Vince Carter, the Raptors didn’t have culture or direction. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to dethrone him as the most important Raptor of all- time. Carter was the first to define what it meant to be a Raptor.
Carter’s signature move was the dunk, and so it became a Raptors tradition. A long list of skywalkers have come through the North since Vince put on the greatest performance ever at the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest in Oakland.
Fellow Raptor and beloved cousin Tracy McGrady had the great misfortune of being in that same dunk contest. He put forth an impressive performance — including a nasty off-the-bounce reverse two-handed windmill — but Vince owned the gym that night.
Raptors fans had to wait six years until another notable dunker came through, and that happened to be Fred Jones. Who? Exactly. Nobody remembers this dude, although he should really be known as the guy who won the dunk contest on a layup because none of the other contestants could do shit.
Two years later, a real dunker rolled through, but again, nobody quite remembers him outside of Toronto. Former Globetrotter Jamario Moon had teammate Jason Kapono serve the pass. That’s how sad the Raptors were at the time — forget the dunk itself; who is getting hype over a Moon/Kapono collaboration? Couldn’t Chris Bosh and his dreads have lent a hand on this one?
DeMar DeRozan was the first one to truly revive the tradition of dunking in Toronto. It’s a shame that he was robbed by Nate Robinson’s bullshit because DeRozan’s dunks were infinitely better — NateRob was just a much better salesman.
Just look at this performance in 2010. DeRozan opened by going two-handed reverse between-the-legs while running in from behind the basket, then followed by going windmill off the side of the backboard, before busting out a near free-throw line two-handed windmill. Pure nastiness.
How did Nate Robinson top that? He didn’t, at least not with his weak-ass two-handed reverse. Nah man, Nate grabbed some pom-poms, played up to the crowd, had Spike Lee shamelessly rooting for the orange and blue, while DeRozan rocked the swagger of a lost toddler in a mall. That’s why NateRob won.
A year later, DeRozan returned to the contest and threw down two of the nastiest dunks I’ve ever seen. He needed three attempts to get off the “East Bay remix” which saw him go off-the-basket-support, then between-the-legs, but that was a ridiculous dunk. Then he followed with the one-handed reverse windmill which was probably the best dunk of the night.
(It sure as shit was better than Blake Griffin dunking across the hood of a Kia in what was obviously an egregious bit of sponsored content.)
Ross finally brought the trophy back to Toronto 13 years later with a little assist from Vince himself. Ross busted out a throwback No. 15 jersey before putting a remix on a Vince dunk. He also did the J.R. Smith behind-the-back dunk (without needing 1,000 tries), then randomly dunked over the pre-teen son of a Twitter executive.
But of course, Ross was robbed of a chance to defend his title because the NBA decided to do some stupid team-dunk contest. It was awful. Technically, the Eastern Conference won, so Ross did defend his title, but the “dunker of the night” award went to John Wall because he did the whip and naenae after one nice dunk. Smh. Why didn’t Wall do his own dance?
Ross and DeRozan are still posterizing folks on the regular, but they’re over the whole dunk contest thing. They’ve proven what they need to prove. It’s time for the next one, that being Powell, to carry the torch for the one good Raptors tradition.