Will Barton was 14 when he first dunked. The Baltimore native was playing a pickup game in the summer before ninth grade and, on a fast break, rose to the basket. With one hand, he slammed the ball through the rim. It was "simple," he told NBA.com.
The Denver Nuggets guard (and his dunking ability) has come so far in the decade-plus since that first throwdown that, come Saturday night, he will be one of four players competing in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Toronto.
Barton told my colleague Childs Walker last month that when he returns to Baltimore, "I get a feeling I can't get anywhere else." We here at The Baltimore Sun humbly suggest that he honor the city in a manner befitting his civic pride Saturday. Here's what a true Baltimore legend would do inside Air Canada Centre.
1. Sing the "Star-Spangled Banner," wrap yourself in the Star-Spangled Banner, then dunk.
Would it be weird to sing a 2-minute-long anthem when you likely have no natural singing ability, and also not much time in which to dunk a basketball impressively? Would it also be nearly impossible to obtain Francis Scott Key's very inspiration, seeing as how the tattered flag is in possession of the Smithsonian's Natural Museum of American History?
Yes and yes. But if that defeatist attitude prevailed during the War of 1812, we all might be eating bangers and mash, and Ricky Gervais would be hosting even more of our awards shows. No, thank you.
2. Wear a Natty Boh mustache, then dunk.
I mean, this is pretty self-explanatory.
3. Line up John Waters, David Simon and Thomas Harris underneath the basket, then dunk.
Blake Griffin once jumped over a car at the Slam Dunk Contest.
Of the respective creators of "Hairspray," "The Wire" and Baltimore-based Hannibal Lecter, the tallest seems to be Waters, at 6 feet 2. Barton has dunked on two professional basketball players at once. How hard could three writers be?
4. Have Paul Rabil throw you an alley-oop from his lacrosse stick, then dunk.
But Jonas, you plead, shouldn't dunk-contest alley-oops mimic real-life alley-oops?
Nonsense. Without athletic cross-pollination, we never would have had Steve Nash, a former soccer star, heading a basketball to Amar'e Stoudemire for an alley-oop in 2005.
And it's not like Rabil, a four-time All-American at Johns Hopkins, doesn't have experience with totally inconceivable lacrosse passes. He famously had a game of catch across the Inner Harbor.
Sure, basketballs are a little bigger, and maybe they don't fit so well in a crosse, but Rabil could easily nail Barton from the 3-point line. The nation needs to be reminded that lacrosse is Maryland's official team sport.
5. Grab a basketball in one hand and a Berger Cookie in another, then dunk.
I'm not saying Barton should try to pull a Javale McGee and dunk them on separate rims.
I'm just saying that if he did, it would look something like this.
The five-second rule still applies here, postdunk.
Also considered: dunking to "Seven Nation Army," dunking to "Thank God I'm a Country Boy," doing Ray Lewis' "squirrel" dance and dunking, covering the ball in Old Bay and dunking.