I’ve been on Cloud 9 the last few days after Kansas completed the biggest comeback in NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Game history to beat North Carolina. My fandom of Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball ended on the highest of notes: a national championship. I’ve taken some time over the past few days to remember some of my best moments as a Kansas fan. There was one moment that electrified me when I came across it: the Wayne Selden, Jr. dunk in the 2016 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinal against Baylor. What Selden did to Ish Wainwright reminded me of a famous moment from the early days of my sports fandom. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Shawn Kemp dunk on Alton Lister.
How I first came across this moment? I was a few weeks into my fandom of the Seattle SuperSonics, having adopted them as my team to get close to my 2nd grade crush…who was from Tacoma and always wore a SuperSonics jacket in class. I was watching the game live.
What it meant to me then? At the time, I didn’t know anything about posterizations in basketball. All I know was I saw Shawn Kemp fly through the air, dunk, and then point at the dude on the Warriors. The 7-year-old me thought that was fascinating so I started practicing it on my basketball goal: I’d dunk and then point like Kemp did. As I grew a little older and heard the Kevin Calabro call on the play, I’d get hyped up. There was something about the way he said “Power slam!!! Tomahawk jam!!! Yeaaaaah baby!!! Into Lister’s face…and the Sonics take the lead, 48-47!!! Whew!! The Reign Man!!!” As I became more accustomed to poster dunks courtesy of Shawn Bradley, the Kemp dunk on Lister immediately became my favorite simply because of the disrespect factor.
What it means to me now? With the Sonics being no more because of punk ass Clay Bennett (f*** him forever, by the way), the Kemp dunk on Lister is one of the defining moments for the lost franchise. Up until the team broke through and won the 1996 Western Conference Finals against the Utah Jazz, it was my Best Moment as a Seattle SuperSonics fan. Today, Kemp probably would get a technical foul and a $25000 fine from equally punk ass Adam Silver for doing something as savage as what he did to Alton Lister 30 years ago.