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Dunk of the Week: J.R. Smith Flies and Carmelo Scowls

December 18, 2010



You've probably already seen it, but it's worth seeing again.  J.R. Smith's dunk over Gary Neal is one of those plays that epitomizes not only the essence of one player (Smith), but takes a Polaroid of a team's chemistry.


Smith has always been a manic player, capable of extreme highs and extreme lows. This dunk was obviously an extreme high, igniting the words "we've seen man fly!" from those who witnessed it first hand.  Unfortunately, Smith's lack of consistency is probably also one of the reasons Carmelo is so eager to leave Denver, because other than Chauncey Billups no one on this team punches the clock regularly, whether it's due to their mental DNA, like Smith, or to injury.

The best close up in the highlight is of Carmelo's face, which appears to struggle with whether or not to celebrate Smith's explosiveness.  I'm probably reading too much into this, but I think his expression could be described as grimaced constipation.  He looks tormented, burdened, and disinterested, unsure of how much emotion is too much emotion, as if he's thinking to himself, "if I clap and cheer for plays like this, will it make the leaving harder?"  No wonder Carmelo has  commercials that must convince himself that he is the only player on the Nuggets, the coach of the Nuggets, and the only fan of the Nuggets--it takes extreme hubris and a denial of sentimental attachment to separate one's self from a franchise that could be a winner if you committed to it.



The idea of the Nuggets being done is a story Carmelo decided to write but not one that had to be written.  Regardless of how he leaves Denver or where he goes, he penned this chapter himself, and it probably doesn't help that J.R.'s fireworks failed to light victory's path, but rather turned to smoke as Manu Ginobili carried the Spurs to victory.

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