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David Thompson was at NC State right around the time when I became a sports fanatic. My uncle was a professor at the University of Maryland, and my aunt was Assistant Superintendent of schools in Howard County - bottom line: free season tickets to University of Maryland basketball games for several years, dating all the way back to the Jim O'Brien years and continuing through their "three-guard offense" years (remember that?). At my age, Thompson, by sheer reputation and from the couple of times I saw him play in college, was essentially a space alien. I didn't really follow pro basketball back then, so Thompson, to me, was the best player in the world. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant have scored more points than David Thompson in one NBA game.
The last line in this video can teach us that greatness almost *always* stands on the backs of giants. Had Erving only known, had he had himself to draw from, had he spent ten years practicing this dunk and training to do it, who knows what kind of flare he would have come up with? Instead, it's something he came up with on short notice. Michael Jordan and Vince Carter (shown at the end of the video) grew up in their gyms dreaming about being Dr. J. One very interesting component to Jordan's version: He held the ball low, with a bent elbow, at the same level of his forehead, right up until the point when he began to descend. Only then did he slowly extend his arm upward, so it appeared that he was rising the entire way to the basket, when, in fact, he began dropping long before he reached the rim. It was a brilliant slight-of-hand illusion, and was probably well-thought-out in advance.