At Age 34, Kenyon Martin Still Scrapes The Sky

The title of this post popped into my head immediately as I watched 34-year-old Kenyon Martin hammer back-to-back putback dunks on the Portland Trail Blazers, and the entire article essentially wrote itself in mere moments as I reminisced on the spectacular career of one of my all-time favorite players.  Those tend to turn out to be my favorite articles–the ones I don’t even have to think about… they just formulate on their own.

Back in ’04/05, before either of his two microfracture surgeries, K-Mart threw down what may still be the best dunk of his career… or at least the best putback dunk.  After reaching his right arm way above the cylinder to quickly snare a back-rimmed floater, Martin proceeded to reel the ball in and crush it with two hands, inspiring legendary Seattle Supersonics commentator Kevin Calabro to exclaim, “Kenyon Martin scrapes the sky!”  It’s one of my favorite calls of all-time, and although you won’t be able to hear it in the following video (the only individual clip of the dunk that’s on Youtube doesn’t include the original commentary), at least you can get the visual half of what I’m talking about here…

Pretty f@cking awesome dunk, right?  It was powerful, unique, and had a prime Kenyon Martin’s unforgettable stamp all over it.  Funny that I think he dunked it over present-day teammate Reggie Evans, with whom he just yesterday helped the Clippers secure a three-point road victory over the Blazers in a building the other LA franchise hadn’t won in since December of 2008.  Heh, December of 2008… that was during the same season that Martin finished another one of his best putback dunks, coincidentally against the Blazers.  This one occurred in the final game of the ’08/09 season, and, once again, it was called by none other than Kevin Calabro…

While this dunk nor this call stand out to me quite as much as the ones against the Sonics, I’ll never forget seeing it live on ESPN and thinking man, this dude shouldn’t be doing this at age 31, especially not with his history of knee surgeries. It was a thought that remained on my mind very briefly, as Martin and the Nuggets were in the midst of a promising run.  Kenyon’s ’08/09 season was one of his best; he played elite defense at the power forward position, helping the Nuggets to reach the Conference Finals.  If not for some terribly stupid inbound passes by Anthony Carter?  Who knows where that team ends up.  Anyway, that’s not the point.  About three years, a trip to China and back, and three jersey numbers later, there was Kenyon Martin, last night, hammering monster putback dunks in the Pacific Northwest… again… at age 34… as it seems that he always will…

While those two dunks didn’t require Martin to extend vertically quite like the previous two that I posted, notice how quickly, how explosively he leaves the floor.  Also, notice how none of the other players standing in the vicinity are at all prepared to go up and grab those loose basketballs, let alone dunk them through the basket with such authority.  K-Mart’s timing on the offensive glass really is second to none, and it’s an underrated aspect of his game which works hand-in-hand with that incredible leaping ability… that incredible leaping ability which clearly remains intact to this day despite 12 NBA seasons, a broken leg, and a pair of knee surgeries that were once considered death sentences to athletic forwards like Martin.

Kenyon Martin is kind of like the Steve Nash of leapers.  You watch him play and you wait for him to fall off, and it seems that he never does.  As a matter of fact, that’s not the only respect in which K-Mart is similar to Nash, now that I stop and think about it.  I mean, there were great point guards before Steve Nash, but no one has ever done it quite like him, and I doubt that anyone will ever do it quite like him.  The same can be said about Kenyon Martin… there were plenty of incredible dunkers who came long before he did, but not one who ever attacked the rim with such ferocity, such anger.  Not Dawkins, not Shaq, and not Vince Carter… Hell, even Blake Griffin, as great a power dunker as he is, pales in comparison.

Anyway, as I hope to never see Steve Nash succumb to whatever it is that will eventually stop him, I hope I never have to watch K-Mart go up for a two-handed slam only to have this happen.  However, I understand how life works, and I know that no matter how hard I hope there’s going to come a time when Martin simply can’t do it anymore, and I’ll be forced to hit Youtube if I want to watch him scrape the sky.  That’s kind of depressing, but I suppose I should be thankful that one of my favorites of all-time has held up as long as he has.  I should also be thankful that, as of right now, he’s still scraping the sky, and with one of my favorite teams in the league.  Thanks to this lockout-shortened season, I even get to watch him do it like four times a week.  Sh!t, I guess it didn’t work out so bad after all.

So, in summation, to those of you who have also enjoyed K-Mart’s dunks–along with his one-of-a-kind personality–over the past dozen years, I suggest that you don’t take what you saw last night for granted.  Enjoy it and appreciate it, ’cause you never know when it’ll come to an end.  Remember when it seemed as if Allen Iverson would last forever?  Well… I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

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2 Responses to At Age 34, Kenyon Martin Still Scrapes The Sky

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Winners And Losers, Featuring Anthony Randolph | NBA 24/7 365

  2. Pingback: Could Jason Kidd & Kenyon Martin Be Reunited In New York? | NBA 24/7 365

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