Since this is the closest thing we have to a basketball blog, wanted to point out the story about Shawn Kemp that ran in today’s paper. We were able to sit down with a very candid Kemp and discuss everything from high school to his post-playing days. In addition, I watched Kemp’s top 10 dunks, according to NBA TV, with him. Here’s what he had to say:
10. Kemp pivots and punishes Clifford Robinson.
Kemp: “He was a great defender, but he was too small and we always knew that. Any time that he guarded me, the only thing I had to do was give him a good shoulder because he was so small I would always create distance from him.”
9. Baseline on the soon-to-be Bison Dele.
Kemp: “These guys at this time, it was him and (Dikembe) Mutombo, they had another guy, Tommy Hammonds. They were young, up and coming. They thought they were the strongest, toughest guys you’ve ever seen. And it was my point to let them know they weren’t. I tried to dunk the basketball really so hard anytime we played Denver, because I wanted, not only the players on the court, I wanted guys on the bench, because they had four or five other big guys, I wanted them all to get discouraged.” Kemp cackles at the end of that statement.
8. Kemp on the break with Chris Gatling trailing him in the 1992 playoffs.
“That was their problem with Golden State, they needed the size of Lister to keep me off the post, but Gatling didn’t have the speed to keep up with me.”
7. Kemp coast-to-coast, one of his renowned abilities.
“I had told Sedale Threatt, I used to tell him all the time, ‘Man, I’m the best ball handler on the team.’ He was like, ‘C’mon young fella, I know we’re going to be playing tonight. Just get the outlet pass to me, I’ll get the ball back to you.’ I used to be like, Sedale, man, I’m just going to get the rebound and dunk it. He was like, really, don’t do that. He said just give me the ball, run down the court, I’m going to alley-oop to you. He got traded to the Lakers and I kept telling him, now I’m going to show you what I kept telling you about me handling the basketball. That was James Edwards that was down there. I owed James Edwards that dunk for all them years in Detroit when he stitched me up coming down the middle when he was with (Bill) Laimbeer. I’m so serious. Him and Laimbeer, man, they had a rule: If I dunked on any of their big men, the next time down court they would stitch me up. It happened like six times. That’s the old NBA, man. You could dunk on a guy, but … Bill Laimbeer was like, you can dunk on me, but you know you’re going to be going in there and getting stitches. I was like well, I’m going to do it. He was like, all right. He stitched me up three times. We hugged each every time after the game, too.”
6. Kemp gets the Nuggets again.
“That’s my man, LaPhonso Ellis. We’ve been playing against each other since we were kids. Like sixth or seventh grade and I finally got him. He didn’t have to guard me. He was guarding small forwards. That was a little something to let him know, I’ve been waiting to get you. I told you before the game you know I’m going to get you. That was just to let him know, you knew it was coming.”
5. Kemp crushes on Gatling in ‘92 playoffs.
“Ohhh. The only reason I done that is he’s been blocking Mac (Nate McMillan’s) shot the whole damn series. Mac had a couple little leg problems. Any time he went in there, Gatling was tossing his shot. I told Mac, I said Mac, I’m going to get him. I’m going to get that big fella down there for them hard fouls and I’m going to get Gatling. And he says, once you dunk on ‘em, they’ll quit playing. I still can’t believe it happened like that. It was so competitive. Before the game started we were at halfcourt, and he was like, you’re not dunking on me tonight big fella. Coach Nelson going to let us all have two hard fouls. I told Gary (Payton), tonight is the night. We had gotten into a fight the previous game. And Gary’s like, you can’t keep fighting. I said I’m not going to fight no more, I know exactly what to do to them. I’m going to embarrass them. And it worked, because they quit playing after that. They were done.”
4. A couple notes about this end-to-end jam: When told there was a clear carry, Kemp laughs. Two, notice the reaction of Xavier McDaniel in the lower right corner.
“What they don’t show you is the next time downcourt, I only played two more plays because Laimbeer cut my mouth open. He was so pissed after this. He’s pointing his finger at me all the way down court. Oh yes, you (bad word), you’re getting it.
(On McDaniel’s reaction) “Because nobody dunks on Laimbeer, so X is like, yeah, I’ve been wanting to do this to Laimbeer for years. For years! It really all started right here.
“After this game, X-Man like’s this: Oh, man. You’ve got to do it every game. You’ve got to do it on (Charles) Oakley. I can’t stand Oakley. Oh man, I’ve been fighting Oakley for the last four years. Young fella, you’ve got to do it on Oakley. Any time I don’t like a big man on their team, I’m going to come out the game, have Bernie (Bickerstaff) put you in the game, and you dunk on them, then that makes it easier for me.” Kemp was rolling with laughter during this recount of McDaniel’s instructions.
3. Reverse double-pump off the roll past Kenny “Sky” Walker.
“We used to hang out in college.” That’s all he had to say there.
2. Kemp goes to the other side of the rim to windmill it in. Notable here: Journeyman Steve Johnson’s reaction after he shoveled the pass to Kemp. Also, the reaction on the Warriors’ bench. That’s Rod Higgins with both hands over his face.
“I went to Pete Newell’s big man camp over in Hawai’i. He sat me down. He goes you can use that rim on one side, and you can start just stretching out to the other side. But he was like, lay it up. I started dunking it. Jack Sikma said to me, he was over in the layup drills, if you start doing that in the basketball games, I’m retiring. If I ever see that, I’m going to quit. If you guys ever start jumping from one side of the rim and dunking on the other, I know it was time for me to go.”
1. Lister Blister.
“You’ll never one of them again, man. I didn’t hate his guts. I didn’t see the video from the game before this. I felt kind of bad. Because the dunk should have been on (Tim) Hardaway. I thought it was Alton that was grabbing me, but it was actually Hardaway grabbing me (during a Game 2 fight). Alton, I feel bad man. I should have directed that toward (Hardaway) because it wasn’t even you that grabbed me and I took all my frustration out … I had been waiting this whole game.
“(Lister’s) wife wanted to kill me after that because this was a contract year for Alton and she said that I jacked it up. He just left Seattle, they used him to get me, and now, his wife was pissed. She was hot. ‘You don’t do no veteran like that!’”