Let’s play a simple game quickly. Think of all the best dunkers in the NBA. Are you thinking about them? Good, now let’s narrow it down to the last 20 years, now 10. Who sticks out as being the best – Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or maybe Derrick Rose pre knee injuries, Jason Richardson, or Tracey McGrady? Peep the list, is your mans in here?
What if I told you you’re forgetting one. One name that is so forgotten and uncommon, yet when I tell you you’re gonna be like “OOOOHHHHHHHH yeah!!! I forgot about him!”
It’s all good. Until this article, I had completely erased him from my memory banks too. So who is this high flyer? He used to make the fans, whether they were in the arena or at home, get up out of their seats and go crazy. His name: Shannon Brown.
So was I right? Did you forget about him too? Don’t feel bad, most people do, but his leaping ability still may be unmatched to anyone who as ever played in the NBA. The only players who could come close would be, well this is my opinion anyway, are Nate Robinson and Spud Webb only because they’re both under 5-ft 9-inches.
But Brown was never a star player in the NBA, instead he was a fan favorite because he used to excite the crowd, his teammates, and the entire league with his dunks. If he got out on the break or had a steal, every fan at Staples Center would rise out of their seats in anticipation of what they were about to witnesses.
In the 2009-10 season, his reputation as a dunker finally reached the East Coast and he was selected to participate in the Dunk Contest. But with a disappointing performance, it was understood that his talents weren’t based around what he could do in the air, but more focused on how high he could leap.
Later that year, in the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns, he got out on the break and was fouled by Jason Richardson who Brown literally ALMOST jumped over. It’s probably the best dunk that never happened because Brown, despite being fouled almost 12-feet in the air, missed the attempt.
But there’s one point while you’re watching it that you say there’s no possible way he could get any higher, yet he does. The reaction from his teammates is priceless. Derek Fisher doesn’t believe what he just saw, Kobe can’t believe it, and yet Brown is just walking back like “yeah, I just did that. No big deal.”
Brown was definitely someone fans went to the arena hoping to see something inconceivable. The excitement in the arena would rise anytime he touched the ball. He was definitely someone you went to see, and Kobe too.
While his highlight reels are something to marvel at, it’s possibly the two highlights that never counted that are the most impressive. There was this almost successful dunk attempt against the Suns and then a block versus the Atlanta Hawks that was whistled for a foul. The ref must have felt ssssssooooooooo bad and embarrassed for the Hawks player that he gave him a petty call.
However, in all my years of watching basketball, it’s hard to remember anyone who looked like they got up as high as Brown did on a given play. Yeah, Vince Carter jumped over a 7-footer, and young LeBron could get up, but there is something even more special about a player under 6’5 that makes it better.
I’m sure all the Lakers fans reading this are reminiscing and saying “man, those were the days.” Don’t worry, I’m sure glory days are soon to come, but for now, let’s just remember Shannon Brown for the entertainer he was.
Mr. Brown, I salute you for your efforts on the floor and am here to tell you that you were one fun player to watch.