I heard something recently that I couldn’t believe was true — Vinny Del Negro taught Kenny Smith his famous between-the-legs, off-the-backboard dunk from the 1990 dunk contest. Sure, the particulars work out, like the fact that Vinny and Kenny were teammates from 1988 to 1990 and that Vinny could certainly throw down at that time. But VDN teaching something basketball-related so well did not compute with a Bulls fan who lived through him botching every timeout situation imaginable.
So I did what any 21st century human who is confronted with contradictory information would do: I Googled it. And lo and behold, the internet holds reference to such a legend. From the OUHoops.com forums from around the time Blake Griffin was in the dunk contest, with a little emphasis added to the pertinent portion of the passage:
I’m willing to wager that Blake will throw some variation of the “backwards between the legs foul line bounce pass off the glass” (hereafter abbreviated BBTLFLBPOTG) that he used to win the McD’s contest.
Blake threw the BBTLFLBPOTG down in 2007 as a tribute to Kenny Smith’s in the 1990 NBA Dunk Contest. Kenny being Blake’s ‘dunk coach’ for the competition, it seems a given that the BBTLFLBPOTG will make another appearance, hopefully in an absolutely bone smashing manner (360 tomahawk? Is it even possible to break an NBA backboard anymore?)
Further, take a guess at who taught Kenny Smith the BBTLFLBPOTG? If you guessed Vinny del Negro, you need a new hobby, but you’re right.
If it’s on the internet, it must be true. From here on out, never let it be said that Vinny Del Negro is a bad basketball coach. If he came up with this, he’s basically a combination of Phil Jackson, Vince Lombardi and Sidney Deane with a little Patti LaBelle mixed in for good measure. Maybe all these years of having to coach every part of the game has been holding VDN back and he just needs to focus on his true legacy, which is teaching fancy dunks for the dunk contest. I’m not sure what the market is like for full-time dunk coaches, but I’d think it’s something worth exploring.