James Naismith, I learned, was a bit different. “I was only three when he passed away [in 1939],” said his grandson, James Naismith, 78, of Corpus Christi, Texas. “He was known as a tenderhearted man, but he also had”—the doctor’s namesake pauses—“the polite term is ‘firmness of mind.’ It’s kind of a family trait. He devoted his life to improving the lives of others through physical activity, through games. That took time.
A slam dunk, also simply dunk, is a type of basketball shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air, controls the ball above the horizontal plane of the rim, and scores by putting the ball directly through the basket with one or both hands.[1] It is considered a type of field goal; if successful, it is worth two points. Such a shot was known as a "dunk shot"[1] until the term "slam dunk" was coined by former Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn.[2]

The opening scene finds Modern Messiah Malcolm Stevens (the tragically deceased Jon Dough recreating his career-defining character) back in his familiar padded cell. Out of thin air, his lost lady love Gwen (Jeanna Fine, resplendent in stylized Marilyn Monroe Kabuki make-up) appears as an echo of the original's psychiatric theory that Stevens concocted his entire past out of years of transfixed TV ogling à la Jim Carrey's CABLE GUY. This proves to be the film's first of many technical knockouts, shot in black and white complete with scratches and splices to suggest an old movie, the tiniest splash of pink occurring as Jeanna vibrates herself into a frenzy. Malcolm still has a problem projecting himself into his own fantasies and is, at first almost subliminally, replaced by tattooed muscle boy John Decker, the mesmerizing lead from Paul Thomas' terrific MARISSA.


Dunking a basketball is a lot of fun, and for most of us that is really the only reason to do it. Especially when you are a shorter player, it is cool to see the looks on the big guys’ faces when you do something you really ought not to be able to do. But let’s be realistic here: If you want to be a good basketball player there are many, many skills that are more important to spend time on. For most of us, the ability to dunk is an insignificant part of our game.
James Naismith, I learned, was a bit different. “I was only three when he passed away [in 1939],” said his grandson, James Naismith, 78, of Corpus Christi, Texas. “He was known as a tenderhearted man, but he also had”—the doctor’s namesake pauses—“the polite term is ‘firmness of mind.’ It’s kind of a family trait. He devoted his life to improving the lives of others through physical activity, through games. That took time.
The phrase "slam dunk" has entered popular usage in American English outside of its basketball meaning, to refer to a "sure thing": an action with a guaranteed outcome, or a similarly impressive achievement. This is related to the high probability of success for a slam dunk versus other types of shots. Additionally, to "be dunked on" is sometimes popularly used to indicate that a person has been easily embarrassed by another, in reference to the embarrassment associated with unsuccessfully trying to prevent an opponent from making a dunk. This ascension to popular usage is reminiscent of, for example, the way that the baseball-inspired phrases "step up to the plate" and "he hit it out of the park," or American football-inspired phrases such as "victory formation" or "hail Mary" have entered popular North American vernacular.

Early in my mission, my editor had given me a book, Jump Attack, by Tim Grover, personal trainer to Jordan, Dwyane Wade and myriad other NBA stars. I’d ignored it at first; I figured I knew plenty about how to jump higher. When I finally opened it last December, I was further dissuaded. The exercises Grover prescribed to increase one’s vertical leap looked either nonsensical (hold a deep lunge for 90 excruciating seconds, without moving) or sadistic (the series of rapid-fire bursts and landings that he’d named “attack depth jumps”). These self-immolations, Grover wrote, would last for three months.

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“There aren’t many people in the world who can [dunk], that’s why it has this allure, I guess,” Carter told me last fall, during his first training camp with the Grizzlies. “As far as trying to do it, there are so many ways people can go about it. The approach you’re taking is the right approach. When I was younger, that’s how I started. Tennis ball, to the point that it became easy. Then a volleyball. Then a girls’ ball. Finally I took—it was like a dodgeball. I dunked that and said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna try it.’ Next thing you know. . . .” He shrugged and smiled, the gray whiskers on his jaw sinking into a dimple.
During the 1940s and 1950s, 7-foot center and Olympic gold medalist Bob Kurland was dunking regularly during games.[7] Yet defenders viewed the execution of a slam dunk as a personal affront that deserved retribution; thus defenders often intimidated offensive players and thwarted the move. Satch Sanders, a career Boston Celtic from 1960 to 1973, said:
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Try calf raises for an easy way to exercise your calves. In a standing position, push on the balls of your feet while raising your heels so that you’re standing on your toes. Hold this position for 1-3 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to starting position. Do 10 reps, or as many as you can, and do as many sets as needed to complete 30 reps overall.[4]
To build strength in the legs that will be compatible with the speed developed through successful plyometrics drills, squat and lunge exercises are important components. Squats are performed with free weights, where the athlete uses a weighted bar to carry out the exercise. The additional weight will be supported by the body through the abdominal, lumbar (low back), and gluteal muscles, in addition to the legs. This form of exercise permits the strengthening of the legs in conjunction with enhancing the core strength of the body, essential to the balance necessary to have the several muscle groups involved in leaping work in harmony.
Cameras of that era were too crude to capture the split second when the rules of both Newton and Naismith were bent, so it was fortuitous that New York Times writer Arthur J. Daley was at the Y that day covering the tournament that would decide which Americans sailed to Berlin for the Olympic debut of the 45-year-old sport. This new “version of a lay-up shot,” Daley wrote, “left observers simply flabbergasted. Joe Fortenberry, 6-foot-8-inch center . . . left the floor, reached up and pitched the ball downward into the hoop, much like a cafeteria customer dunking a roll in coffee.”
Seventy-nine years later, the feat that Daley unwittingly named “the dunk” still flabbergasts. But how it felt to Fortenberry, a pioneering barnstormer whose name we’ve forgotten despite the gold medal he and his teammates won in 1936, remains a mystery. “He never talked about being the first person to dunk and all that,” says 65-year-old Oliver Fortenberry, the only son of Big Joe, who died in ’93. Indeed, the famous dunkers throughout history have been either reticent on the subject or unable to adequately express how it felt to show Dr. Naismith that he’d nailed his peach baskets too low. After more than a year of rigorous research on the subject, I’ve concluded that the inadequacies of modern language—not the ineloquence of the dunk’s practitioners—are at fault. In the eight decades since Fortenberry rocked the rim, words have repeatedly fallen short in describing the only method of scoring, in any sport, that both ignores one of its game’s earliest tenets and, in its very execution, carries a defiant anger.

Keep your upper body straight and your arms relaxed at your side. Extend your left leg straight out behind you with a slight knee bend. Place your right leg in front of you with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your thigh parallel to the floor. This is your basic lunge position. From this position, slightly lower your entire body, and jump to the opposite lunge position with your right leg extended behind you and your left leg in front of you. Repeat 25 jumping lunges in a row for three sets with a 1-minute break between sets.


Dunking (or attempting to dunk) is a high-impact, highly intense activity that deserves a sufficient warm-up prior to a throw-down session. Just as you would for a lifting workout, start your warmup with a few minutes of low-intensity cardio, then progress to more dynamic movements—dynamic stretching/mobility drills as well as jumping. Before attempting your first dunk, take a couple dry runs with no ball where you’re touching or grabbing the rim at the top.
Vertical jump measurements are used primarily in athletic circles to measure performance. The most common sports in which one's vertical jump is measured are track and field, netball, basketball, football, and volleyball, but many sports measure their players' vertical jumping ability during physical examinations. In addition, single and multiple vertical jumps are occasionally used to assess muscular strength and anaerobic power in athletes.[3]
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