There’s no denying Xavier University’s Jordan Crawford delivered a thunderous dunk. Anyone who’s ever stepped on a basketball court can attest to that. Some people would give up a limb — or more — to experience what it feels like to rock the rim the way the 6-foot-4 guard did during a pickup game at the LeBron James Skills Academy a few weeks back.
But Crawford’s throwdown is not the greatest posterization in the history of hoops, as it was made out to be. James was late to rotate over on defense, and Crawford slammed it home with the superstar in the frame. It might have been more anticlimactic than the British Open, the 2004 World Series and the end of Ken Jennings’ 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy.
Blame it on the media, the 24-hour news cycle, global warming, water boarding and conspiracy theories. Once Nike confiscated the video evidence of Crawford’s dunk, LeBron’s Tapegate was born, and the hype machine took over.
With each passing day, the legend of the dunk grew bigger. The kid jumped off the floor, grabbed a quarter off the backboard, hung in the air to eat a Snickers, did a back flip, put on a blindfold, mixed Pina Coladas for everyone on the floor, corkscrewed through the air and slammed the ball through the hoop. Then he asked LeBron “Who’s your daddy?” in sign language.
That’s what happens when something gets blown up. It gets blown out of proportion.
The phenomenon is nothing new for LeBron James. The King was anointed The Chosen One before he had a driver's license. That’s a lot of pressure for anyone — no matter how out of this world their skills might be. When players aren’t all they are supposed to be, or what everyone deems they should be, they are considered failures.
Jordan Crawford is about to find out exactly what it means to be built up into something larger than life. From here on out, Crawford will have a target on his back. Every opponent will be bringing his A game to the court. Everyone will want to dunk on The Man Who Dunked on LeBron. Everyone will want to take Crawford to school.
Success is a double-edged sword. Scouts who might not have thought twice about Crawford will now give him a second look. But dunking on (or around) LeBron no longer guarantees a badge of honor. After reviewing the tape post-hype, many are acting like it's a Boy Scout merit patch.
That’s the nature of the beast. For better or worse, it takes a lot to impress people these days.