Tuesday, November 13, 2012

THE DUNK (1993) -starring- John Starks, Horace Grant & Michael Jordan

THE DUNK (1993) -starring- John Starks, Horace Grant & Michael Jordan | Directed by Madison Square Garden

If you've had a chance to walk around the revamped sixth floor at the Garden, you may have noticed a wall display featuring John Starks' old pregame warmups. They are the same ones from the night he threw down the famous "The Dunk" in Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference finals against the Bulls.

John Starks stands beside "The Dunk" exhibit before the Knicks hosted the Mavericks on Friday night.

The exhibit, one of the arena's 10 "Defining Moments," pays homage to Starks' personal career highlight. He hadn't seen it until Friday before the Mavericks game, when he gave ESPNNewYork.com his first impressions and reflections on the play.

Here's the conversation:

So what do you think?

"It's amazing to be a part of such the famous arena, the best all-time in my book, and to be able to be immortalized here in the hallways is just amazing."

What does it mean for fans to see exhibits like this throughout the Garden?

"It means a lot. Obviously the fabric of New York is sports and to have moments like this captured, where fans can really appreciate it as they walk through the Garden, is just what makes this place so special. To be one of the athletes that has one of the defining moments over the course of the Garden life is just amazing."

Did you supply the warmups?

"Yeah, I still had the warmups and I had plenty of those cards right there. I didn't have the camera. I still had a couple of the schedules and obviously the picture. When you look back throughout your career, you don't think about certain plays that you did until you're retired and people keep bringing up this certain play. When that happened, I didn't think nothing of it because I had dunked many times and dunked on many people during my career, and so you don't think nothing of it."

How often do people bring it up?

"Every day. Every day since it happened, people have been talking about that particular play. It was a very special play, no getting around it."

"The Dunk"

Take me through the play, from what you remember.

"The expressions on B.J. Armstrong and Bill Cartwright are priceless. B.J. Armstrong was cheating the play when me and Patrick (Ewing) came to set a pick-and-roll. When I mean by cheating the play is that when he knew Patirck was coming to set the pick, he would jump to my high side and get ready for the pick to push me down baseline where Bill Cartwright is usually waiting.

"That particular play, when I came down and I saw that Bill Cartwright wasn't down on the baseline like he normally was, I just cut my eyes a little bit early. B.J. Armstrong was watching my eyes, and he knew the pick was coming, so he jumped like I thought he would to my high side, and it left the baseline open, and I just took off."

John Starks took flight against Horace Grant and Michael Jordan
in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals

Now you were on the right side, but you dunked lefty?

"Actually I jumped better that way, going right to left. Some right-handers go better leaning with their right. I do better leaning with my left, and I jump the highest. I didn't see Michael (Jordan). All I saw was Horace Grant. I knew I had to go in strong and be the play."

Did you ever find out how high you jumped?

"They say when I did that play right there it was like 42 inches off the ground."

How did the dunk change things for you?

"It was kind of like a statement play. Every player has a defining moment in their career, and that was probably the defining moment for me in the standpoint of I wasn't a household name at the time. After that play, I became a household name, so I think that's what made it special."

"The Dunk"
Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals: New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls

Do you ever get on MJ and Horace about it?

"We kid each other about it. I don't see Horace as much. I see Michael more now. Michael always states that I didn't dunk on him, but I said I've got a picture showing that I did. He's off the ground and he tried for the block."

John Starks sky-rocketed above the clouds — into the rafters of Madison Square Garden — delivering a soaring 'spark-plug' of a left-handed slam that dislodged Horace Grant’s goggles and electrified The Garden!

If you had to pick one, what's your second defining moment?

"I would think (against) Indiana, Game 7 (in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals), where we beat them to get to the championship was obviously my second biggest moment, as a player and as a team, because we worked so hard in the past four years to be able to have an opportunity to play for a championship.

"Plus, Patrick Ewing kind of saved me, too, to win that game because the last shot I went up and I was going to try to do the same thing (like "The Dunk"). But I was just coming off knee surgery and when I went to go jump, it wasn't enough. I just kind of got it off the backboard and Patrick was there, as he usually is, and came in and followed it up, and dunked it." Jared Zwerling | ESPN

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