You don’t have to be a fan of basketball (or even understand what the rules are), in order for you to appreciate a dunk. Simply put; a proper “slam dunk” is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Wikipedia describes a slam dunk as; “A type of basketball shot that is performed when a player jumps in the air, controls the ball above the horizontal plane of the rim, and scores, by putting the ball directly through the basket, with one or both hands.”
If we’re being honest, a good dunk is a lot more than that. It is an artistic display of athleticism, poetry in vertical motion, an aesthetically appealing aerial assault, and you have to see one to fully appreciate it.
We’re not alone in our love for dunks, as they are universally loved (which is why we have the annual dunk contest, in the first place). It is also worth adding that some of the greatest NBA players of all time, such as; Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Vince Carter, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James (to name a but a very small handful) had their reputations greatly enhanced by their ability to dunk a basketball (you’re welcome to google as many of them as you like).
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest (currently sponsored by Verizon):
Has served as an avenue for some of the best in the game to throw done their best “jams”, without any of the usual in-game distractions, in exchange for judge scores and/or fan votes, and the eventual winner gets to go home with that year’s trophy.
Also, if you’re looking for some of today’s best “dunkers”, you can add Blake Grifin, DeAndre Jordan, Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine to your search list.
Enough with the romanticizing, let’s now see if we can come up with a football version of the NBA Verizon Slam Dunk Contest.
The ELVN F.C. “Golazo” Challenge:
Of course, you’re not allowed to pick up the ball and “dunk” it into the net, in a football game. However, there is one football action that produces similar emotional effects to the ones you get from watching a great dunk, and that is; watching a great goal (or, as some people refer to it: “golazo”). The feelings are almost identical; you jump out of your seat (slowly and unconsciously, if it’s against your team) and you immediately want to tell all your friends and family members about it, and, whenever you remember it, a smile slowly makes its way across your face. That’s what viewing a great goal (and a great dunk) feels like.
A football version of the Slam Dunk Contest would basically be a group of great goal-scorers, taking turns to see who would be able to produce the best goal(s), without any of the other distractions and responsibilities of a regular football game. Think of it as watching the nominees for the Puskas Award, but all live, participating simultaneously, and in the same arena.
Almost all basketball players can dunk the ball, and almost all football players can put the ball in the net (except for Mikel Obi, that year) what truly stands a player out from the crowd; is the ability to make theirs look better than everyone else’s. So, for this list, we’ll be picking 8 players (4 from the EPL and 4 from the rest of Europe’s top 5, as usual) and asking you to vote in the final poll, for which one of them would be able to produce the best goal, if they all got into an actual contest. Let’s get started.
EPL “Golazo” Contestants:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United):
He could easily be the poster-boy for this tournament, it’s something he’s been doing all his life.
He’s also done it everywhere; from the Eredivisie, to the Serie A, all the way to La Liga and Ligue 1… and we all remember that goal against Joe Hart, don’t we?
In our hypothetical tournament, he would be a perfect candidate to represent the English Premier League.
Philipe Coutinho (Liverpool):
Someone who doesn’t even seem to be interested in the shot, unless it looks very difficult, you would easily put money on Philipe Coutinho, in a competition like this. “Stunners”, “thunderbolts”, even the famous “R2” shots, he’s got them all. He also loves scoring from outside the box, and, the farther out it is, the better he makes it look.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal):
The English Premier League’s top goal-scorer has had to shoulder much of the offensive load for Arsenal, this season, and, boy, has he done it in impressive fashion. With impeccable close control, a short back-lift, an eye-catching assortment of tricks and a desire to run at defenders, there are very few players in the EPL (and the entire world) who can do the things he can do, on his day. If you need any more convincing, you could take a look at his hat trick against West Ham.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea):
The former PFA Player of the year seems to be back to his very best, this season. He’s already found the net 10 times and provided 3 assists for his teammates. We all know he has an eye for the spectacular, which he has consistently displayed since he joined the League (ask Arsenal fans and defenders for a recent example, if you will). Hazard is definitely someone we’d love to see in a “Golazo” competition, especially if they include a “dribble before scoring” category.
Those are our four EPL contenders, which one of them’s your favourite?
Let’s move over to the European side of things, shall we?