Isiah Thomas’ tip dunk vs. the Bucks (1989)

Isiah Thomas’ tip dunk vs. the Bucks (1989)

Even though Isiah Thomas was much better known for his razzle-dazzle ball-handling moves and shooting skills, one of the greatest NBA showmen of all time, also possessed quite an impressive leaping ability which enabled him to fearlessly go into the ‘land of the giants’ and get up there, more often for an offensive board, but occasionally even for a dunk.

Today, video clips of 6’2” Detroit Pistons point guard career dunks are so rare that you couldn’t actually put up a decent mixtape made out of them!

One of those rare but spectacular dunks occurred in the 1989 Eastern Conference semifinals in which Pistons faced experienced and solid Milwaukee Bucks squad.

Pistons took initial control of the series on their home court, in the Palace of Auburn Hills, in Detroit, by winning the opening two games. Pistons had such a dominant three-guard rotation in Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson, which really set a long-term excellence standard for any given NBA backcourt rotation.

In one of the most memorable plays of that series, during the first quarter of Game 1, Pistons ‘microwave’ Vinnie Johnson started a move on Ricky Pierce from the top of the key, and then took a shot over Paul Mokeski.

At that point, Bucks veteran point guard John Lucas was supposed to be in charge of Isiah in the right corner, but he ‘fell asleep’ and ‘Zeke’ sneaked into the paint, right behind Lucas. Johnson missed the shot and the ball bounced off the rim…actually it was a perfect bounce for Isiah to catch it since he was already high in the air.

It was the Bucks blue-collar small forward Fred Roberts who quickly reacted, tried to prevent Isiah’s easy deuce. He came over and jumped but couldn’t stop it – Pistons captain dunked the ball with authority, and Roberts got posterized on this occasion.

Pistons, which would go all the way in 1989 winning the NBA Championship, won the series against Bucks by 4-0 with an average point margin of 11.7 points per game.

If a ‘miracle of Spud Webb’ somehow didn’t occur, or Iverson was a bit less spectacular, it’s a sure bet that Isiah dunks in ‘the land of giants’ would, today, be much more appreciated.

Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the books ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) and ‘Bridging the Generations’ (‘Most Generacija’). He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.