You may rest easy now, Ron Artest. Stephen Jackson, be cleansed of your sins. The Malice at the Palace is no longer the darkest moment in NBA history. It had a good five-year run, but tonight we rub our eyes and come to terms with a new, frightening reality. The 2010 NBA Dunk Contest has blotted out everything good in the world.
Look, nobody really expected anything magical. It's just the dunk contest, a disposable exercise in Saturday night time-killing. But that? That was unacceptable. Countless missed dunks, and those that weren't were hacky and unimaginative. And at the center of it all, shouldering more culpability than anyone, is our very own Shannon Brown.
In live game action, Shannon is an electric dunker. He gets off the ground fast, soars high, cocks his arm back and packs it down with speed and power. He's fearless in attacking would-be defenders. He'd given us every reason to believe that on dunkology's biggest stage, he'd find something special for our delight and entertainment.
As it happens, he locked up. It was a straight-up choke, which isn't a word I deploy casually. He looked like he'd start strong, but when he missed his first attempt, a Terrence Stansbury 360 Statue of Liberty from just inside the free-throw line, he seemed to lose his nerve. He followed it up with a ho-hum effort in which he kinda, sorta switched hands midair, and then in round two he executed an unremarkable alley-oop from Kobe Bryant. Supposedly he was going to windmill it, but his jump and timing were off.
Shannon should've stuck to his original plan. The long-range 360 would've been spectacular, and he didn't miss by much on his first try. Had he taken another run at it, he likely would've at least reached the finals. The lesson here is that it's too easy to overthink. During a game when real bullets are flying, instinct and muscle memory take over; when you have time to plan and ponder, you can fall prey to self-doubt. Geniuses at improvisation don't always work well off a script.
If I can find video of Shannon's dunk attempts, I'll post it, but it's possible David Stern is, even as I type, ordering that all evidence of the night's events be immediately destroyed.
Follow Dex on Twitter here.