JaVale McGee Takes A Big Risk To Make An Incredible Block
As JaVale McGee rose up through the air, he knew he was going to end up all over social media the following morning.
What he didn't know was whether he'd be celebrated or laughed at. But he went for it anyway.
With 31 seconds left in the second quarter of the Lakers game against Orlando on Wednesday, Terrance Ross took off full speed into the air, winding back his right arm for what was about to be a monstrous one-handed jam. McGee looked him in his eyes and jumped vertically into the air with an outstretched right hand, halting all of the momentum and force with one appendage, specifically his right wrist.
"It's one of the greatest dunk attempts I've ever seen before in my life," LeBron James said with a laugh after the Lakers' 119-118 loss, their first loss since Christmas. "JaVale has the opportunity to make plays like that that not many in NBA history can make. And he did it. It was a great save."
McGee's block was one of the highlights from an otherwise disappointing night for the Lakers, in which their nine game win-streak was snapped by the Magic, breaking another streak of 20-straight wins against teams under .500.
McGee, who finished with 14 points on a perfect seven-for-seven shooting, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in just over 22 minutes, said going for that block meant putting aside his ego.
"There's a lot, especially in the social media world where people are making memes and stuff like that," McGee said. "So you really have to let that go in one ear and out the other, especially if that's your job to block shots. If that's not your job, I can see you going for a block, getting dunked on and being like, no, I'm not going to do that anymore. But that's what I'm here for, to block shots and protect the rim."
McGee, who is in his second season with the Lakers, has developed a reputation of being fearless.
"That was incredible. One of the best blocks I've ever seen, if not the best," said Quinn Cook. "...He just does things that you've never seen before and you see [him do] them on a regular basis. That's what coach [Frank] Vogel always jokes about in film. He just does stuff in film that has guys shaking their head. He's not afraid of the moment. He's not afraid of getting dunked on and tries to make the winning play for our team."
McGee, a journeyman who has played for six teams over his 12-season career, went from being in and out of the rotation in Golden State, to being the starting center on a Lakers team that has the best record in the Western Conference at 33-8. He signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the team in July.
His teammates respect his effort, energy, the rim protection that he brings down low -- and his willingness to sacrifice his body to make big plays.
Obviously, sometimes it doesn't go his way.
A quick search on YouTube brings up multiple videos of McGee going for blocks and getting posterized, including one titled "JaVale McGee gets sent to the grave by 6'3" Donovan Mitchell's Dunk" and another titled "James Harden DESTROYS JaVale McGee with dunk shocking Rockets Crowd."
McGee, who is averaging 6.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots in 16.9 minutes a game, has learned to take his wins when they come.
After being told that Cook called that block one of the best he's ever seen, McGee wasn't shy.
"Yeah, I'd agree," he said.
After all, he knows he was a few inches or seconds from it going down very differently.
"It could've been the dunk of the year or the block of the year," McGee said. "Luckily it was on my end."