April 20, 2011

Video: TJ Sahi dunks over a Mumbai Taxi

Blake Griffin was not the first person to dunk over a car. But when the 'Blake Show' took off to slam it in over a Kia during the 2011 Slam Dunk competition, it was the first time an "over-the-car" dunk was done on such a big stage. I was there in person, and I was impressed. Half of me was impressed because it was a pretty good dunk, and the other half of me was impressed because of a combination of entertaining things that took place along with the dunk - The Gospel Choir, "I Believe I can Fly", the Staples Center home crowd cheering him on, and did I mention, it was the friggin NBA Slam Dunk Competition?

But strip the dunk bare of all the side-shows and what you're left with is a 6 foot 10 NBA player dunking over a short car.

Forward another couple of months. The scene is drastically different. It's a slam dunk competition all right, but one being held far from the glitz, glamour, and indoor-court comforts of Los Angeles/Staples Center. This dunk contest was being held at the first ever Indian All Star Weekend in Mumbai. The court was the Mastan YMCA, in Nagpada, which in most terms is the exact opposite of LA glamour. Nagpada is known for its kebabs, its crowds, its chawls, and its basketball.

And it was in this setting that, in an outdoor court, with a temporary rollover surface over the concrete court, and where the crowd had free entry to come and watch India's best dunkers exhibit their stuff, that TJ Sahi created history. If you don't know, Sahi is perhaps the most explosive dunker in India: the six foot tall Punjabi point guard, nicknamed 'Air India', has reached cult status for his athletic ability, and has been a main feature in several dunk competitions held in the country over the last few years. You can check out more of his videos on his YouTube channel.

During the Friday night events of the Indian All Star Weekend about two weeks ago, Sahi did his usual in the dunk contest - wowing audiences with his leaping ability. But he saved the best for last, taking a page out of Blake Griffin's book, and then topping him. Sahi dunked over a Mumbai kali-peeli (Black & Yellow) taxi on-court - a car with greater height than the Kia Griffin dunked on. Watch the video of some of Sahi's best dunking highlights below (over bikes, kids, etc, etc), and it ends with this famous over-the-taxi dunk. (Warning: loud Punjabi music to be expected).

Here is a complete list of ways in which this dunk was more awesome than Blake Griffin's:

  • 1. The kali-peeli taxi, an icon of all things Mumbai, was higher than Blake's Kia.
  • 2. Sahi is about 10 inches shorter than Griffin.
  • 3. If you don't know, these outdoor Indian courts aren't exactly best-suited for basketball athleticism. The court is uneven, with bumps, unlike the comfortable NBA floors which are obviously much easier on the dunker's knees.
  • 4. Don't know if Griffin practiced, but Sahi later confirmed to me that he didn't. "I just had a gut feeling I could do it," he said.
  • 5. Sahi had to figure out a way to cover the meter and the sharp edges on the front of the taxi with a mattress, because a single misstep could've brought a whole lotta pain to his nether-regions.
  • 6. The taxi driver and a bunch of kids sat inside the car to watch him leap over it. R. Kelly was replaced from the soundtrack in favour of some Punjabi music. Now THAT'S entertainment!

    Once again, I count myself lucky to witness this first-hand, right behind the basket. Thanks TJ, for another historical moment - we'll be waiting to see what else you have in store for us.
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