This time last year, Gerald Green was nothing more than a YouTube legend. Pushed out of the league at 24 and forced to reestablish himself halfway across the globe, his legacy could be found in the confines of a website devoted to entertaining you with a short thrill — much like what Green provides fans when he rises from the hardwood. He was able to cement himself as a premier dunker in a league full of high-flyers, but that wasn’t enough to find a consistent spot on an NBA roster, and his novelty quickly wore off.
After a detour that included stops in Russia, China and the D-League, Green is finally living up to some of the potential that came with his 18th overall selection in the 2005 Draft. Last year, the Nets gave him a second chance, an opportunity to prove that he’s worth more than the jump-out-of-your-seat dunks that made him a household name in the first place. Now that he’s earned valuable minutes on a contending Pacers squad, it seems he finally came into his own.
He’ll compete in his third NBA Slam Dunk Contest this Saturday, and as we saw when we highlighted competitor James White yesterday, Gerald will need to bring his insane ups to All-Star Weekend if he wants to become the sixth multi-Slam Dunk Contest champ. I’m pretty confident he’ll have a lot to work with, as he’s only further solidified himself as one of the most exciting players in the league since his return. Let’s take a look back at the best jams of his career.
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10. THE CUPCAKE (2007-08)
Before we get into the meat of the list, let’s start with some dessert. Gerald Green celebrates his birthday on January 26, but he wasn’t done blowing out the candles until mid-February, when he decided to bless us with one of the more original dunks in the competition’s history. While it may not look like much when you first watch the highlight, the replay shows you how amazingly high he can actually jump. I wonder what he wished for.
9. TOMAHAWK IT DOWN (2012-13)
Gerald Green was a big part of the Pacers’ early success this season, finally embracing the role player archetype that he’s meant for. When a guy can come off the bench and provide this kind of spark — one that brings fans to their feet in a 20-point blowout — it’s special. Green always provides that potential when he rips off the warm-ups. This soaring tomahawk slam left Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a frenzy.
8. HIGH SCHOOL HEARTBREAKER (2005)
Green didn’t join his high school basketball squad until his sophomore season. Two years later, he was a McDonald’s All-American. He had his official coming-out party in the dunk contest before the big game, where he showcased his uncanny ability to make people lose their minds. Here, at the ripe age of 18, he defaces a gym with a between-the-legs windmill. Just look at how excited Andrew Bynum is for his fellow prep-to-pro product.
7. THE FEROCIOUS POSTER (2012-13)
Much like the Hulk, you wouldn’t like this Green guy when he’s angry. Here, he elevates out of nowhere to dunk between two Cavalier bigs. He gets just enough bounce off his thunderous hop step and leaves Samardo Samuels questioning his motives. It’s almost like the refs gave him a T just for disrespecting the city of Cleveland. Whatever the reason, not even Tristan Thompson‘s mask could’ve protected that dunkface.
6. THE NO-LOOK (2006-07)
Go ahead and say what you want about Nate Robinson, but the man isn’t all that short. At 5-9, he would blend in seamlessly with society, but his profession requires him to stand next to human trees, so give the guy a break. To take anything away from this dunk is nit-picking. Not only does Gerald sky over the defending dunk contest champ, he does it in style. Here, he channels his inner Dee Brown and covers his eyes as he throws it down.
5. THE FAST-BREAK WINDMILL (2005-06)
When I was compiling this list, sifting through dozens of jaw-dropping gems, I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I came upon this one. Green bursts out into the open court and poor Adam Morrison, bless his soul, doesn’t even try to keep up with him. Gerald could’ve used any of the dunks in his sizable arsenal, but I think he made the right choice here. You can almost feel the breeze from behind your computer.
4. SEND IT INTO JEROME (2005-06)
Once Gerald starts jumping, it may be smart to just get out of the way. His explosive hammer left Jerome James walking away dejected, yet understanding. James knew his fate when he saw Green’s feet leave the floor, but for some reason it didn’t quite click with Jerome until the ball came shooting through the nylon and knocked some sense into him. Pair that booming dunk with a beautiful dish from Brian Scalabrine and you have a highlight worthy for Springfield.
3. SUMMER JAM (2006)
Disclaimer: The victim in this video has asked that we blur this footage to hide his identity, as he has since entered the Witness Protection Program. I understand his shyness, because if this happened to me, I don’t think I could even face myself in the mirror anymore. This one comes to us from the Las Vegas Summer League back in 2006. Gerald spins swiftly around a defender and rises over a soon-to-be-sorry seven-footer.
2. ALLEY-OOP EXTENDED EDITION (2005-06)
This one is downright filthy. Green decides that he wants to put an exclamation point on a nice win, and in the process rocks the house with one of the most impressive dunks of his career. I’m confident you can’t screw up an alley-oop if this guy is on the receiving. It’s almost as if he hovers above the air when he reaches the apex of his jump. His arm springs forward like a mouse trap as he powers the rock through.
1. THE ALLEY-OOP WINDMILL (2011-12)
The quickest windup you’ll never see on a baseball field, Gerald Green’s top dunk looks more spectacular each time you see it. Even the Rockets bench couldn’t contain their excitement. His chin is above the rim. Houston, you’ll have no problems when this guy launches from Earth on Saturday.
What does Green have to do to beat James White this weekend?
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