The highlight of this year’s World Basketball Festival, for me, might’ve been wear testing the craziest technology I’ve ever seen in a sneaker (the Nike Lunar Hyperdunk 2012), sitting front row along the baseline for Team USA’s intrasquad scrimmage or perhaps even chilling in a suite with the people at Nike for the USA/Brazil exhibition game. Or, I could just say it was watching Justin Darlington aka Jus Fly dunk because honestly, that might’ve topped everything.
In front of judges like Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Darlington destroyed the competition at the Nike+ dunk contest (It wasn’t like that was unexpected. Every person I talked to from Nike before the event laughed at the suggestion that someone might beat him.). He pulled off a ferocious windmill, an under-both-legs jam, his patented cartwheel-to-through-the-legs dunk, and also had one dunk where he jumped over a 6-8 player, grabbed the ball and reversed it.
I caught up with the man immediately after he accepted his trophy, and we talked about how he prepares for stuff like this, as well as his favorite dunkers in the NBA…
*** *** ***
Dime: When you’re going into a dunk contest, how do you approach it? Mentally, do you have to do anything to get prepared?
Jus Fly: No, I’ve been doing a lot of contests for a few years now so now my approach is just go and create havoc. You can never really prepare for a dunk contest. It’s really how your body feels and like how the crowd is and everything with your competition. So I just come here not knowing what I’m going to do, not knowing any dunks I’m going to do, and just go from there.
Dime: How do you train for this stuff, if at all?
JF: I don’t really train that much. I should train a little bit more to get things more consistent. But your body when you wake up in the morning, you get to warm up. Sometimes you might feel really light or really energetic. You’re hyped, so you might try something a little bit more difficult. Then, there’s times where your body feels heavy and sluggish, and you’re like, “Maybe I’ll switch around the dunks a little bit” because some dunks you really have to be hyped in order to complete.
Dime: What kind of dunks are those? The ones you were doing out here?
JF: Yeah, the couple ones that I was missing I was a little tired and everything so I knew I really couldn’t do it. But they wanted me to attempt it so I just went for it. There are some dunks â€“ like when I jumped over the 6-10 guy â€“ I really gotta be warm. My muscles gotta be nice and loose and I gotta be hyped for that.
Dime: I heard you used to train for high jumping. Are you still doing that?
JF: I was training for it a little bit, but that wasn’t really my passion so I went back to basketball. If I ever wanted to go back, I could probably do a little bit of track for fun and see where it would go from there.