Trailing the Portland Trail Blazers by eight points in the third quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday, second-year Golden State Warriors center Jordan Bell caught a beautiful outlet pass from Draymond Green that set Bell up for an uncontested dunk.
He missed. Instead of cutting the deficit to two possessions, the botched dunk prompted glee from Blazers fans and those around the league rooting against Golden State dynasty.
In the end, it was Bell and the Warriors laughing as they ran to a 110-99 victory to take a 3-0 series lead.
But the deficit, at one point as high as 18, might have been much tougher for the Warriors to overcome if Bell had dwelled on the miss instead of being brought to literal laughter by a coach.
— Shaqtin’ a Fool (@shaqtin) May 19, 2019
When Bell attended Long Beach Poly (Calif.), he played against Elijah Brown, a son of now-Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown who attended Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Brown told The Athletic that after the dunk, he approached Bell.
“He’s about to walk out of the huddle and I walk up to him and say, ‘Jordan, listen, don’t worry about the dunk. I saw about three or four of them back in the Long Beach days and you bounced back,'” Brown recalled.
“He fell out laughing. He said, ‘Ah, MB, I didn’t do that back then!’ I said, ‘Yea you did! It’s all good, though!’”
That was an exaggeration — Brown told The Athletic it was only one missed dunk — but the comment helped Bell move past his miss on the big stage.
“I just laughed, man,” Bell told The Athletic. “He gave me something to get my mind off it. Next play I was guarding (Damian Lillard), got a block, ran the floor and got a dunk. It was funny.”
2⃣3⃣ x 2⃣
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 19, 2019