It seemed as though most believed that Los Angeles Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. would win NBA Dunk of the Year for his monstrous slam over then-Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. In one move, Nance exploded off the floor, palmed the ball in his right hand, and reached for the sky, extending it beyond the arms of the seven-foot Lopez. Nance seemed to float on forever until finally slamming the ball through the rim with Lopez only able to look up in awe.
Somehow, the award ended up going to Victor Oladipo of the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of the strangest outcomes of the night.
Now, thanks to a trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn in exchange for Lopez and the pick that became Kyle Kuzma, Nance is now teammates with his dunk victim. At his introductory press conference on Wednesday, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus asked Lopez about the dunk and whether he thought it deserved to be the Dunk of the Year. Lopez took the question in stride and affirmed that Nance indeed should have won:
“I knew it was going to come up eventually. I do (think Nance should have won). I mean, it was impressive. I think I got a better view of it than anyone. When he introduced himself I said there was no introduction necessary. But yeah, I think that was Dunk of the Year. At least I get to be part of it then.”
Lopez figures to slot in as the Lakers’ starting center, where his ability to stretch the floor out to the three-point line should be a major benefit to coach Luke Walton’s offense. While Lopez isn’t very nimble, he will also be relied upon to protect the paint.
The Lakers will also ask Lopez to be a veteran leader on an extremely young team. His experience playing alongside players like Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, and Deron Williams will come in handy as he sets the example for others to follow.
Lopez has already been at the Lakers practice facility working out with the team’s young players, which is a good start to what should be a big season for the California native.