From the editor
Can you dunk, punk? Can you jam, man? If you can, you’re in a whole other universe than the rest of us. Our feet are either made of block stones or we’re not considered tall. You, you’re either a beanstalk or you’re blessed with pogo-stick spring legs, or maybe even both.

Maybe we could at one point hand-deliver the rock to the chute, but over the years we fell into a couple of Goodyear tires and have yet to shake them. Maybe the Earth’s gravity has gotten stronger and that’s why we can’t spit the pill into the bucket anymore. Maybe global warming is wreaking havoc on our vertical. Ever think of that, dude?

Oh, who are we kidding? Our slam dunks have only consisted of – and still do consist of – lowering the adjustable rim, and, of course, we can only imagine it’s not the same. When you jump maybe two inches off the ground and nearly rack your head on the rim, there’s no adrenaline rush that follows. You’re just happy you didn’t pull your groin or re-aggravate the corn on your big toe. Those who have the gift to jam are special, but to do it in a game is the bomb, dawg! It must be like hitting a hole-in-one while playing golf – another feat I will likely never experience in my lifetime. (But if I do, please, golf gods, let it be against my dad at the country club with his friends).

OPRF’s 6-foot-8 center Jeff Dirkin has slam-dunked in at least nine games this season, most recently on Saturday afternoon to lead the Huskies to a 56-54 overtime victory against Lincoln Park (see the backpage story for game coverage). It was a thing of beauty – a straight up, two-handed, in-your-face jam, hang on the rim a second for full effect and back down again, flexing every muscle the human body possesses. To make matters even more exciting, Dirkin did it as the buzzer sounded. My subdued subjectivity went out the window. I found myself leaping in the air, fist-a-pumping, pen flung from my hand, “YEAH!” exploding from my mouth. I located said pen and composed myself quickly, but not without a proud grin.

Twelve of the 16 players on the OPRF boys basketball team can dunk, including Jeff Stanciel-Wynn and Mortell Flowers, who have done so in separate games this season.

“The slam dunk is a basketball play that electrifies fans and, at times, provides an energy boost for a team during the game,” says OPRF head basketball coach Matt Maloney. “However, the play is still worth two points. It serves more as a psychological edge in a close contest or during a run in a game. Furthermore, it can intimidate defenders since no one wants to be on the receiving end of a dunk.”

Being a coach, Maloney is quick to point out that the dunk shouldn’t be a player’s objective in a game.

“Young players spend too much time focusing on the dunk rather than improving their shooting form and making mid-range jump shots on a consistent basis,” he adds. “While dunking is a nice feat, players should focus on developing their passing, shooting and dribbling on the offensive end before slamming a basketball.”

Aw Maloney, don’t slam-dunk the slam dunk. We’re almost to the rim.


Join the discussion on social media!

Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...