Date: March 22, 2010
Place: Oracle Arena; Oakland, California
Set-up: It was a classic run ‘n gun affair between the two teams. The Phoenix Suns trailed the Golden State Warriors 122-119 with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Suns came into the contest winning four straight in what turned into an eventual 10-game winning streak but were in a struggle with the high-scoring Warriors.
The Dunk: The Warriors were on a four-on-three fast break when Stephen Curry pulled up for a three-point shot. The ball clanked off the rim and was on its way out of bounds before Monta Ellis raced down to save it, throwing out into the middle of the floor right to Jason Richardson of the Suns. After a couple dribbles up the court Richardson threw it down the court to Amare Stoudemire. “STAT” grabbed the ball with nothing in his way from a two-point dunk. Inexplicably, Anthony Tolliver came running in to attempt to block the eventual dunk attempt at the last second, just as Stoudemire was gaining steam towards the hoop. Both players jumped at the same time as Stoudemire slammed it home on Tolliver in one of the greatest dunks in Suns history.
My proof for that statement? Just listen to Oracle Arena and watch the expressions of Tolliver’s teammates. When your guy gets dunked on, generally, you stay as expressionless as possible to ease the pain of your teammates embarrassment. That was just the opposite of what happened in Oakland. It was total astonishment for what the Warriors just witnessed. The Warriors bench just about fell out of their seats and in the background you see players nodding and smiling in approval of Stoudemire’s destruction on Tolliver — look at Corey Maggette’s face during the replays
Aftermath: The dunk was used to propel the Suns to their fifth straight win behind Stoudemire’s 37 points. This team gelled at the right time and made a run to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.