You Just Got Posterized.

The “Poster on The Wall” means very little to a 14 year old today. As a matter of fact, theres a pretty good chance they would have no idea what you’re even talking about if you mentioned a “poster.” 

But go back 20 years in the not so distant past, and it meant everything

The posters in your locker at school or on your bedroom wall were the outward facing representation of your entire personality. It was your identity. The subject matter. The placement (right above the bed was always the most important one). The conversation you could have based on the moment captured. It was what you wanted, or what you wanted to be. 

It was often a simple exercise: The most important bands, teenage heartthrobs, cars and sports of that era, in printed form taped to a wall.

But there was one sub-genre that ruled them all and turned the “poster” into a verb: The NBA Slam Dunk. 

It’s poetry meets cinema. A dramatic marriage of gladiator-like brutality and Chris Farley-esqe physical comedy. There was usually a clear hero and a villain before the act occured, but we often saw the roles reverse as the protagonist hits the floor and the antagonist stands towering over his victim in glory to the chagrin of thousands. It’s impossible to not love the latter in that moment.  

Even though posters may be a thing of the past, Posterization will live forever through clips, digital collectible platforms, and merchandise & memorabilia.

Today, in the 128th installment of Shiny Thing$, we adjust the backyard basketball rim to 7 feet, and take a quick trip down posterization-memory-lane to highlight the moments that shaped a generation of would-be athletes. 

But first, a quick word from our friends at The Rundown AI…

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and now… in no particular order, the five Posterizations that defined the NBA’s most important quarter-century.

1992: Kemp Over Lister

Shawn Kemp may never get the credit he deserves as a steward of the game for an entire generation, but watching a few minutes of his highlights on YouTube could turn a casual into a super fan.

It was 1992, and the Sonics were locked in a 1st round series with the Warriors. Enter Kemp, a rising star at the time who was just beginning to display his showmanship and personality on the national stage. After catching a desperation pass at the top of the key, Kemp drove directly at Lister, delivering a knee to the chest dunk, dropping Lister to the hardwood. Immediately after, Kemp dropped into a crouched position to meet Lister on the ground and point directly in his face as the crowd went crazy. 

Why it was so important:  Everything is bigger in the playoffs, and this was no different. Only a couple of short years removed from the draft, this moment was the first time many fans got to see Kemp’s personality and charisma on full display. Add to that moment the the feat was performed over Alton Lister, a veteran center known specifically for his defensive prowess and his shot-blocking, who stepped up to challenge Kemp and was embarrassed mightily. To make it even crazier, Kemp couldn’t even palm a basketball, so his vertical on the dunk was even more menacing as he had to get his forearm above the rim to complete the sequence. It had everything you want in a poster, and solidified Kemp as one of the most exciting power forwards ever - even without ever winning a championship.

1994: Pippen Over Ewing 

The scene: May 20th, 1994, Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls were facing the Knicks in a fiercely contested playoff series that highlighted all of the strengths and weaknesses of the east coast rivals. The added intrigue - Michael Jordan had “retired” before the season, leaving Pippen as the Bulls' star and de facto team leader.

The dunk in question was a contributing factor in cemented the Bulls as a contender without Jordan, even though they would go on to lose this series in 7 games. Starting with a block by Horace Grant, an outlet pass, and a driving Scottie Pippen in the lane, it ended as most posterizations do - with a violent dunk, a shove, a step-over, and some trash talk as Pippen walked away from a stunned and frustrated Ewing.

Why it was so important:  Up to this point, Scottie was second-fiddle to Jordan. It was rare to see him so demonstrative and own a moment like that, but this series and this dunk unexpectedly became the epitome of physical 90s hoops. Turning Patrick Ewing into a victim was the added bonus for Scottie and the Bulls. “This is what the Knicks do to teams, game in and game out… and Pippen just served it up in the same manner” Marv Albert remarked during the play-by-play call. It was done on a national stage, with millions watching, an no one was safe from the moment - Scottie made that clear just after the dunk as he trotted past an enraged Spike Lee courtside and told him “sit your a** down.” 

1999: Shaq Over Dudley

Shaquille O'Neal came into the league in 1992 and immediately made every defense change their tactics when facing him the paint. He was a force, and too often, defenders were left with little in the way of true defense and simply caught the wrong end of Shaq’s dominance. This was the case for an overmatched Chris Dudley in a Lakers vs. Knicks game on March 28th 1999.

It was started as a pretty standard play - dump it to Shaq in the post, and let him back his way in. Shaq dribbled once to see if he would draw the defense his way. Once he realized it was just him and Dudley, he violently backed Dudley toward the rim and jumped directly into and over him, sending Dudley off his feet. After quickly shaking off the cobwebs, Dudley jumped up, and threw the ball directly at Shaq in a schoolyard-style moment of frustration, completing the story arc of one of the most disrespectful dunks in the history of basketball.

Why it was so important:  Shaq had an illustrious career full of highlights, but this is still one of the moments he gets asked about most. It was also done in the signature Shaq pose - holding the rim with 2 hands, legs extended, which has become synonymous with Shaq and is still seen on sneakers and apparel to this day. In his own words recounting the incident, Shaq remarked “if you don’t double or triple [team] me right away, you’re showing disrespect.” The result is a 20+ year lingering disrespect paid back toward Dudley, which includes a recent clip of Shaq calling him “little fella” when referencing the incident. For context, Chris Dudley is a 6’11” adult. 

2013: Lebron Over Terry

Over his 21 year career, LeBron is responsible for some of the most absurd finishes at the rim in the history of the league, but what he did to Celtics guard Jason Terry on March 18th, 2013 was the start of his true era of domination. A series of passes in a 3-on-1 transition left Terry lost under the basket. LeBron reminded him where he was with an alleyoop that sent Terry to the floor, quieted the entire TD Bank arena, then ended with a stoic LeBron standing over Terry (who was also called for a foul on the play to add insult to injury). 

Why it was so important: In an interview just before this series, Terry called LeBron “overrated” and there was still a ton of negative sentiment over LeBron’s decision to form a “Super Team” and stack the deck in Miami. The Heat/Celtics rivalry was at peak, and in the hostile TD Garden arena it was rare for a Celtics player to get embarrassed like that, much less after commenting directly about the star who would cause that embarrassment. The LeBron-led Heat would win that series, and go on to win the Championship. Terry has said on the record that his children often asked him about that dunk. 

2000: Vince Over Weis

In his debut appearance for Team USA, a lot of eyes were on Vince Carter. Following a breakout 1999/2000 NBA season, here he was being touted as the next superstar in the post-Jordan 3-peat era. The USA was facing France in the preliminary round of what was expected to be a footnote on USA tournament domination. That all changed early in the second half of the lopsided competition.

After a steal, Carter streaked through the middle of the court toward the hoop. Standing in the lane in front of him: the 7’2” Frederic Weis of the French national team (also an early draft pick of the New York Knicks). Vince jumped CLEAR over him, to the point that even he didn’t realize what he did. In an interview years later he said “I remember jumping up in the air. I remember my left hand touching his shoulder… but I felt like I jumped too far and wasn’t gonna make it.” He said he only found out after the game that he jumped over the 7 footer. In the post dunk celebration, he nearly knocked out teammate Kevin Garnett with a fist pump as Garnett came to congratulate him.

Why it was so important:  This is one of the “USA” moments that will stand the test of time as long basketball is a professional sport. In France, the moment is referred to as "le dunk de la mort” - translated to “The Dunk of Death.” It was also essentially the end of Frederic Weiss’ NBA hopes, as he would never play in an NBA game of any kind after that day. It was one of the first times a dunk literally ended a career, and goes down as the greatest in-game dunk of all time. The slam dunk was back as a result of Vince, and the Dunk Contest came back to its rightful place as the most interesting part of All Star weekend thanks to Vince. On the 15 year anniversary of The Dunk of Death, ESPN tracked down Weis for an interview in which he stated that Carter "deserves to make history. Sadly for me, I was on the video, too. I learned people can fly.”

The mediums of may change - the 90’s era poster on the wall is now a Reel or a TikTok - but the impact remains the same. Moments that make us collectively gasp at their sheer audacity, particularly on the world stage, will be the ones that last forever.


Until Next Week…