On December 16th, 2010 the Nuggets were hosting the Spurs in a Western Conference derby on TNT. With just five seconds left in the first quarter and Carmelo Anthony on the bench, J.R. Smith was instructed by Coach George Karl to lead the offense for a final shot. J.R. wouldn’t disappoint.
J.R. got a running start up the court and got four dribbles off, then took two steps and elevated from the dotted free throw line. Gary Neal saw this play happening in front of him, and as most young players do, he wanted to show he wasn’t scared and prove to coach he could play the game.
Poor Gary Neal had no idea what was coming. We knew Smith was an athletic freak, but this was crazy even for his standards. Smith took off from just inside the free-throw line, managed to jump over Neal while avoiding the charge as Neal’s foot was in the restricted area and still was able to dunk it with two hands. Neal tried to slide over and pick up the charge. Oh, he tried, but he was just a fraction of a second late, and now, he’ll be in a poster falling over for the rest of eternity. And as Kevin Harlan screamed “RIDE ‘EM COWBOY” it was the perfect moment.
Everyone in the building was impressed, as they should have been. It was an unbelievable dunk. The best reaction probably came from his teammate Carmelo Anthony who was on the bench just nodding in approval without showing many emotions in his look.