JaVale McGee Gets Detention For Unnecessary But Pretty Sweet Dunk

by Micah Hart

What to do with you, JaVale McGee? That’s what Wizards coach Flip Saunders must spend a good amount of time thinking — at least when he’s not thinking the same about Andray Blatche or Nick Young, or …

Anyway, take this play, for instance, from yesterday’s Wizards-Rockets tilt:

Now, before we get into what happened afterward and who is right or wrong, let’s please all first acknowledge the dunk was awesome and clearly Dunk Ladder material.

In a vacuum, McGee’s aerial display is exactly what makes the NBA so amazing. I’d wager that we all secretly wish every player on a breakaway would do something like it.

But McGee’s slam did not occur in a vacuum; it occurred with the Wizards trailing the Rockets in the third quarter of a game they were losing and with the team’s record at 1-11, soon to be 1-12.

And so Saunders sent McGee to the bench, where he sat for the rest of the game save a couple minutes early in the fourth quarter.

There are a lot of opinions about whether this kind of showboating has a place in the NBA (and other sports as well), but I’d say the general rule of thumb is it is only acceptable when you are winning. Which, to refresh your memory, the Wizards are not. It reminds me of LeBron’s Cavaliers teams and their elaborate pre-game rituals. As long as they were winning it was cute. But as soon as they fell to Orlando in the playoffs you started to hear “maybe if they’d spent more time practicing basketball instead of handshakes …” and other tropes.

Both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. Sports are supposed to be fun, and that’s clearly what McGee was trying to do here — have some fun. But there is a time and place, and one look at the Wizards’ place in the standings shows that they haven’t really earned the right to goof off. That’s why most don’t have a problem with Saunders’ decision to make McGee sit in timeout and think about what he’d done.

Still … it was a pretty sweet dunk.

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  1. fortheglory1 says:

    he plays on the worst team in the nba let him have some fun

  2. Ben says:

    It’s patently ridiculous. It didn’t come with a whole load of risk, it wasn’t over the top showboating, it was just having a bit of fun in a rare opportunity to do so.

    Flip Saunders choice to sit McGee for so much of the game when he was behind is something that had a much bigger chance to cost the Wizards the game. I wouldn’t have said fire Saunders before, but I would right now. That is not the way to build morale, and certainly not the way to win games.

  3. Mack says:

    I don’t think Saunder’s decision to bench McGee for that dunk is rational. He’s in the team with the worst record right now and he deserves some time to enjoy himself. What Saunder did would definitely demoralized McGee , maybe even other Wizards player.

  4. jayson says:

    Fire Coach Saunders, he’s just like Coach Rambis of Twolves, not suited for the team! He is suited during the Agent Zero bonanza, but now! NAH! Forget him…Move on…

  5. William says:

    I absolutely think Javale should have done the dunk. And this comes from a hardcore wizards fan, who’s been rooting for D.C. since I was a little kid.

    In fact, I believe by penalizing javale for making such an energetic play, it really destroyed the morale of the wizards that game. You don’t criticize a player for making a statement dunk, you criticize him if he misses that dunk.

    Javale made it, it brought the team morale up, it brought the crowd into the game, it startled the Rockets, what more can I say. Overall, it had a positive effect.

    These kind of high-energy creative dunks can change the course of a game.

  6. willie says:

    the score was 64-58, and became 64-60… wizards was only trailing by 4… then flip saunders sat out mcgee which could’ve had a bigger impact for them losing the game than that fun entertaining, morale-boosting dunk… it’s all saunders’ fault why they are the worst team in the NBA…

  7. Mike says:

    Why is it such a big deal.. that is a very EASY dunk. Especially for someone who is 7ft tall, theres no chance he was going to miss it.

  8. Dennis says:

    That was a rgeat dunk. The game was only a 4-point deficit in the 3rd. You rarely get a fast break opp, and for a slam dunk man there going to e creative. So the problem is his team is losing. So what? Fans are still paying money and this is what they want to see.. this is what they NEED to see, if they are paying customers and their team is getting smashed.

    Its an NBA game, not a high school game you naughty boy.

  9. AAG_SR says:

    Great move “Coach” take your starting center great shot blocker out for the rest of the game when only trailing by four pionts to go on and loose without him because his wide open dunk looked too god!

  10. Luis says:

    Oh come on. The guys is always playing tough, he plays defense, and always tries to compete. The team is losing morale and the coach does this. If the team is not winning, it probably has to do more with the coach than the players. I mean you got John Wall who’s pretty good, you got McGee, who happens to be very athletic for his size. They’ve only won 1 game. They better start looking for a new coach because chemistry is clearly not there.

  11. Mike says:

    People do windmills on breakaways all the time… ( Much riskier dunk) give the poor guy a break.

  12. Countrytime says:

    They were at home, and down, you get a dunk like that and it can fire up the crowd. Once the crowd is in it players build on that confidence, it makes it harder for other teams to shoot free throws when you have 20,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs and waving big foam fingers, it can be a game changer. Had he left him in, who knows how it would have turned out.

  13. BullsFan4Life says:

    Are you serious??? You call this dunk showboating? Before seeing the clip, I thought he was about to do a 360, dehind the back, between the legs dunk the way it was hyped up. The Wizards have nothing going for them right now. This might have actually boosted their confidence had Flip not benched McGee for the rest of the game. Dumb move Flip!

  14. Parker says:

    The dunk was sweet, and I am totally cool with it. If they were up 20, and he pulled that dunk off, he’d be criticized for showboating and rubbing it in. Professional sports are about entertainment. I would argue that if he DIDN’T try a dunk like that, then he should be benched. ‘Zards fans have suffered paying for tickets; the least they deserve is an awesome dunk.

    If they wanted to see a breakaway layup, they qould buy Mystics tickets. (Are they still around?)

    Also, I have no problem with showmanship in professional sports; it’s how athletes get paid for the rest of their lives. Who made more money in endorsements: Marvin Harrison or Ochocinco? How about Ronnie Lott or Troy Polamalu?

  15. Marco says:

    This just proves that Flip’s reign in DC is over. Someone please get this kids a building coach instead of a win-now coach. Flip would be awesome if Arenas didn’t pull that trick a couple of years ago. With that supporting cast, well, they were one of the best teams in the league! But Flip coaching a young and inexperienced team? Not really. Not yesterday. Not today. And please, not tomorrow… Can’t get Adelman now, DC…

  16. Bryant says:

    they were playing at home and have a 1-12 record, therefore, THANK YOU McGee for giving your fans something exciting. I mean they deserved that highlight simply for buying tickets and coming to support their 1-12 team!!!! Because you have a losing record doesn’t mean don’t have fun or don’t entertain the fans. If he had missed then we’d have a problem.

  17. Allan says:

    Well guys, this should not really be an issue at all. McGee made the shot and was not error on his part. In addition, this kind of basketball highlight is good for the sport. It works for both fans and players alike. Players love what they are doing and fans love to see amazing stuff like that. It may not look good for the losing coach but its certainly a delight for basketball fans. They may be at the bottom but that dunk gives the fans something to cheer for when they watch their teams play.

  18. Joey says:

    I didnt’ see anything wrong with it. The guy just having fun, Stuff like that is what fans pay to see and watch the game for. Being only 4 points behind? Flip just over reacted, Sometimes it takes something like that to get a team to really rolling and he takes him out. Now all that Flip did was make the other players question some of their dunks when they do get a chance. That was stupid to bench him.

  19. Skrillexbro says:

    trade him to the Heat. We’d love to have a big man who can do that.

  20. HeatFTW! says:

    Dude, that dunk is amazing! NBA – “Where amazing happens.”………..and how is this not amazing? Look at the wizards….they’re what?…1-12? Let the players have some fun! Shoot, if I could dunk in a game and NO ONE was behind me, I’d probably do that too…..especially if my team had nothing going for them……and so McGee does a sick dunk like this and you bench him? Not to mention he’s the Wizard’s ONLY good center.

  21. James says:

    The dunk is perfectly acceptable. I would understand if they were losing by a large point margin but they were only down by 6 and the 3rd quarter had just started. The dunk is also great for the fans to get hyped over, because quite frankly they don’t have much to cheer about this season. So the coach is the failure of this story, taking out one of your better players at the start of the 2nd half when you were only (after the dunk) down by 4.

  22. NBA Fan says:

    What coach Saunders doesn’t realize is that fans pay to see players do this stuff. Their team already has the worst record, this is the only thing left for fans to see. What does he want him to do; lay the ball in? I know Saunders wants to prove a point to his players, but he also needs to realize that basketball is for the entertainment of people and a business for the management upstairs who wants to rake in as much cash as possible.

  23. WizardsTrueFan says:

    I totally agree with all the above comments……I have coached basketball in this area for close to 30 years the very first female to coach males in this area and I know for a fact that there has to be something wrong going on with the coaching staff…we don’t have D Wade, Dwight Howard, CP3 type talent BUT we do have some talent and THAT talent should be doing a lot better that what they are doing….I would love to get into that locker room or a practice just one time…….and O by the way Kevin Durant came out of our program here in PG County. Thats the kind of coaching we do…..but for God’s sake if you can’t coach them Flip then let them have some fun….that dunk could have pumped them up to the point of winning the game who will ever know now.

  24. Lorenzo Castillo says:

    As a fan, I PAY to be entertained. I WANT to see crazy dunks and what not. Also, their job is to entertain the crowd above anything else. That’s how they generate income, that’s where their salaries come from.

  25. RH says:

    He’s just giving the fans a little something. Seriously, how else can the Wizards expect to fill seats? Get John Wall to do his stupid dance?

  26. matthew says:

    Maybe its showboating like that that the team needs to raise their spirits. I have had the privilege of playing on winning teams in my short non professional athletic career. I remember, however how disheartened others were who were on losing teams and sometimes the simplest things turned their seasons around. Sounds like 1 man has too much control (coach). That is the problem with many things in our societies, 1 man telling us what we can or cannot, should or should not do. He made the dunk so Flips overreaction was uncalled for.

  27. Jigs says:

    Yes, i totally agree with most opinions posted above! Flip has really flipped this time. Look at the score guys, the Wizards were just down by 4pts after the awesome slam! If Saunders didnt bench Javale, then they could have had a better chance of winning the game!

    And yes, the NBA is about being fun and that’s why it was dubbed where AMAZING happens. But if coaches would start being Flip-ish, then us fans would start getting bored watching the games.

  28. nbafan says:

    why do you writers always say lebron blah blah blah… lebron here lebron there… this is all about mcgee making the dunk with style.. dont compare it with lebron doing handshakes? mcgee dunk reminds you of the cavaliers handshake? your so far… btw mcgee did his thing. and it was good.. even though they were losing…. nothings wrong with that..

  29. Jack says:

    It wasn’t too flashy but enough to excite the crowd. With the the team not doing so well in the wicolumn it is something that at least makes it more likely for a good attendance to their games. Nothing worse than losing AND playing boring basketball for the crowd. Picking the attendance up creates more motivation in players that struggle in finding some. Plus the dunk was awesome anyway! Good to see the Wiz pick up a good win over the West-leading Thunder tonight too.

  30. Dom V says:

    So kobe is allowed to do a similar dunk to him self? ( in traffic ) mcgee isnt? His team is terrible they arent gunna make the play off’s im surprised that many fans even turned up, why not give them something for their money?

    No one slammed the clippers last year ( losing ) when blake was pulling crazy dunks, he was in the open court no chance of getting blocked let the NBA be entertaining…. Same as the new rules with fouls make the game less entertaining, MJ used to talk trash non stop no one mentions it Rodman is a fan fav cause he did stupid stuff and talked trash…

    What is KG yelling at some one really hurting? it’s a laugh for the fans and makes the game entertaining.

  31. Wino Carpenter says:

    You all seem to be forgetting that Javale has a sordid history of failed dunk attempts due to showboating, and when he actually makes a dunk he’s liable to earn himself a technical foul for taunting the opponent. Off the court, you can find him and Nick Young videotaping themselves puking from trying to ingest raw cinnamon another such shenanigans. My guess is Flip has understandable just about had it up to here with this team’s immaturity. During his time in Detroit, he earned the highest winning percentage of any coach in the franchise’s history; i.e. Flip is a winner, and this group of misfits has yet to accomplish jack squat, so the best thing to do in this situation would be to man-up and pay attention to what coach has to say.

  32. M. James says:

    Winners don’t wear the face of loss… matter what! By-the-way, it worked. It changed the complexion of the game and the psyche of the opposing team. All players should do this. Winning and losing are unscripted, and should remain so.

  33. Kevin Michael Menkhorst says:

    I think as long as he scored it there is no reason for getting upset as a coach, owner, or anyone of that matter. This was an amazing play but a freakish athlete and that should not be punished. McGee thanks for bringing some showtime into your team. Don’t forget these plays could sometimes be real motivational plays!

  34. rexb says:

    when i saw the dunk, i’m like, wish he windmilled it after he bounced it off the board. Saunders is over reacting.

  35. r#y says:

    I’d like to see DeAndre Jordan, JaVale McGee & Dwight Howard for this years Slam Dunk contest

  36. sf11 says:

    I can understand why Flip sat him. Not that I care about the Wizards but being behind in the 3rd with the addition of having a losing record isn’t really the time a coach wants to see a player take a risky dunk on the break and THAT is the key here. if they were up by 10 – 20 he wouldn’t have been benched, if they had a decent record right now he wouldn’t have been benched. Coaches wont punish a player for flashy moves if he still manages to score unless the team is losing like the wizards are right now.

    They’d prefer a safer easier score then the one he threw up there that had he failed to catch would have ended up back in the hands of the Rockets so it really doesn’t matter that he made the dunk but that he took an unnecessary risk that had it gone wrong could have easily demoralized the team and the crowd just as much and thus he’d be the one criticized right now. Ergo, he was showboating and at a very bad time for the team.

    If I were Flip, with my job on the line due to the losing record, I would have benched him too.. at least for a little while. Maybe not the rest of the game but at least long enough to drill into his head that until the team is winning again I’d rather be seeing safe high percentage scores and nothing fancy.

    Wins are all that matter to a coach and until you’re winning games they don’t feel like you’ve earned the right to be showing off during them.

  37. matt says:

    I completely agree with you — ben – and most of us…. this was a really bad move…
    but i wouldn’t say fire him… as it clearly will happen by the end of season or sooner.
    And not to mention… this season is already over for them (or saunders really believe his wizz are the suns team that made playoff after an 0-13 start !!! )
    so let them grow, let them play, let them be better…
    but whatever he did… it wasn’t the better way of handle this. Fo sure…
    I think Saunders must be the one that doesn”t feel great about it all,
    as he doesn’t have fun himself ans smell the end of his time there…
    I would recommend that mcGee does it again… over and over.

    and basketball is all about fun, right? (for us!!!) but in the other end for most players and coaches, gm …so on …is nothing but business = which means money
    we saw that the all summer….
    everybody wanted his penny, piece of the pie.. cuz we’re talkin an annual minimum 2 billion business
    so fun in all of this should never be lost… cuz it is what BASKETBALL is all about
    not a business industry so called the NBA… where amazing happen !!!

  38. mike says:

    I do NOT agree with most opinions. I am a lifelong (pretty damn good if I say so myself) athlete and competitor. If my team is 1-11, I do NOT do this dunk. I lay it up and get my focused a$& back on defense and yell at my team, “LETS GO!!!”

    Javale is the team’s best veteran player. His example dominates. I don’t want my team on the bus/plane talking about his sweet dunk. I want them talking about how we’re going to show the world that we are not a joke. 1-11 is a joke. JaVale clearly thinks that he too is a joke and that being 1-11 is funny.

    In truth, who cares. Dunk. No Dunk. They suck. Give the fans something to cheer about. But. 1. A champion would never do this. 2. Javale did

  39. Wil23_pad says:

    Its fun when you are winning but not when you are losing. take a seat javale!!

    • nbalolz says:

      Ya right, its always fun. YOU take a seat, that was smart. He was pumping up their crowd and trying to get some energy in the building.

  40. mich says:

    you need to do this for your fans as well… the coaches decision is wrong in my opinion. he scored the 2 points and made the fans happy. what the hell is wrong with that? i think the wizards should send the coach to the dressing room instead.

  41. JeM says:

    A shot is a shot, a dunk is a dunk. how do you win a basketball game? you have to shoot the ball in the basket to earn a point. the way i see it, Mcgee is just trying to be positive in a very negative situation by doing a licious dunk. thats all their is to it.

  42. Me says:

    How nice to see that really none of my comments get allowed, i guess you can’t complain about the BS scrutiny on other articles so they take out all your comments

  43. GEMINI says:



  44. Tom says:

    I don’ t think the fancy dunk benched McGee. It’s the fact he didn’t run back to defense being only 6 points down (like the other teammates clearly do at high speed) that must have benched him. Not doing your job on defense, and than showboating?? It somewhat makes the coach’s decision understandable, although that’s the kind of dunkstuff fans like to see and pay for…

  45. MahazeNUTZ says:

    He was putting bums in seats. No one in the right mind wants to go and watch a rubbish team play. So props to Javale for waking up half the crowd after a snorefest first half. Saunders should be fired!

  46. really? says:

    the comments above me just goes to show how little the casual fan knows about the game. or even the artical wrote.
    come on go read the artical and you’d understand why the coach benched him. or just read the following.

    when you earn the right to show how atheletic you are, how good your team is. than that dunk would be acceptable.
    because the wizards are what.. 1-12? after that game. they had NOT earned that right. they have no right to say anything to any other player in the league because they are a losing team. it goes back to the respect for the game i love. doing something like that, disrespects the game.

    • bobbyjoe38 says:

      wanna elaborate on how it disrespects the game

      • G-Nice says:

        I’d be the 1st person to tell say “McGee needs to grow up” and change that ‘pout/almost gonna cry’ face every time there is a whistle. But whatchutalkinbout, “disrespects the game”? Are u trying to convince everyone above, that in all of NBA History – the first player, EVER, to do a straight up ballin dunk, during a 4pt spread, not even in 4th quarter, was McGee? Let me end this; By your logic, Blake Griffen was such a “disrespect” to the league last season, since he didn’t earn the right to do all those dunks on a loosing Clipper team of 2010-11 (Clippers had only 9 more wins than Wizards, and both teams finished 13th place in their respective conference – look it up).
        You are disrespecting all the casual fans with that statement. This is the NBA, main attraction: high-flying dunks. This dunk can be seen on thousands of various top dunks of the day/week/month/season type shows – because that’s what FANS want.
        Leave McGee in, let him build on that dunk, cutting a lead to 4pts, with the FANS all in a roar, teammates hype — and Wizards win that game: Then, we’d be talking about the best turning point of a game, a self alley-oop that uplifted the Wizards to a win.

      • Youclearlycantread says:

        Looks like Bobby Joe here has a hard time comprehending things unless they’re repeated three times. Twice doesn’t cut it.

        JaVale McGee is a fantastic dunker and an amazing athlete, in addition to being a serviceable center and capable defender. He’s also one of the most immature players on one of the most immature teams in the league, and showboating with a dunk like this when you’re not winning (the game, or any games for that matter) sends a message that you don’t care about winning, just making the highlight reel. Basketball immaturity in a nutshell.