The Los Angeles Lakers probably wont have any All-Stars in New Orleans when the wildest weekend in basketball hits Louisiana in February, but Larry Nance, Jr. is ready to represent the purple and gold in the Big Easy given the chance. Nance, Jr. “would love to” participate in the dunk contest, he told Baxter Holmes of ESPN in an insightful article on the thunderous dunker’s road back from tearing his ACL during his junior year at Wyoming.
Nance, Jr. has already dunked 29 times this season, averaging 1.5 slams per game through the 20 contests he’s appeared in. He’s the Lakers’ go-to guy above the rim, but doesn’t just do his damage on alley-oops. Larry cuts when his defender is looking elsewhere, is a downright devastating trailer big barreling down the lane and is constantly looking for ways to get inside for easy buckets.
63 of Nance, Jr.’s 114 attempts have come from within the restricted area, where he’s shooting an astounding 81 percent. The man has a nose for the rim, and he unleashes the fury of two generations of dunkers every time he soars up.
It was a baptism of David West that Nance, Jr. points to as the moment he felt his springs were fully loaded, though, even if he’s been serving up dunks to folks since his legend began with the posterization of Festus Ezeli in Las Vegas. Two years of chasing his dream with a compromised leg culminated into arguably the best dunk of the Lakers’ season, as he told Holmes:
Before taking off against the Warriors, Nance planted his right foot and leaped, as he did before the injury, but it all came second nature, without worry -- and that was the first thing he noticed when he watched replays of his vicious slam after the game.
"You know, my knee didn't hurt when I did that -- it felt solid, it didn't cave in," Nance said he told himself. "That's pretty good."
Said Nance, "That was a page-turner for me, because I knew I was feeling well. I knew my legs were strong -- they were of equal strength and everything. When I planted on that right leg and was able to explode the way I did, it was [like] -- 'I'm good now. I feel great.'"
It would be a crime not to include said dunk:
Getting Nance, Jr. into the dunk contest should be a no-brainer for the NBA on the merit of his slamming prowess alone, but it also makes for a compelling story. He’s the son of the first slam dunk champion ever, was an unexpected draft pick who’s continued to surprise with how impactful he’s been and he’s overcome his battle with Crohns to become a professional athlete.
That’s without mentioning putting Laker into an All-Star event miiiiight just boost the ratings a bit.
#LetLarryLeap, NBA. It’s simple, and we promise it will make up for Shannon Brown.