It took less than two seconds for the LA Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan to prepare, formulate, and execute one of the most aggressive slam-dunks of the NBA season earlier this spring.
To watch the replay, one might get the sense that he saw the whole thing happen in his mind, months before the opportunity arrived. One millisecond he’s watching his teammate run toward the basket, and the next he has suddenly transported himself from mid-court to the paint, where it almost looks as if he is standing completely still, calmly anticipating the pass that would become a spectacular smash of ball through net. His leap from a nearly inert position was stunningly vertical, and he soared over the Detroit Pistons’ Brandon Knight like he was just a gnat that happened to be in the air between him and the basket.
Throughout the NB A season, there are of course countless dunks that enjoy the spectacular commendation, “dunk of the year.” But Jordan’s dunk was so stratospheric, and his surprised reaction so memorably incredulous, this dunk was deemed by Under Armour to be worthy of two different t-shirt designs commemorating the feat.
Usually, when people talk about being in the right place at the right time, it’s a pretty abstract notion that tends to acknowledge the randomness of life. Jordan looked like he was just casually waiting for a bus out there when the ball was passed to him, and then he nonchalantly decided to execute a liftoff. But actually, that memorable moment was the cumulative effect of countless hours spent honing skills on the court. Jordan sized up the possibilities, seized the chance, pushed his way through the atmosphere and grabbed that segment of time to make it his.
In the midst of the ever-shifting scrum of challenges on the court, Jordan was prepared, and he knew exactly when to apply his extraordinary talent to push his team closer to their goal. He didn’t wait, make a flow chart, call a meeting, and try to schedule a moment before next quarter’s financials are due, he leapt. Maybe we should all live as if someone might make and sell thousands of t-shirts based on a few milliseconds of our life.