Early in the game last night against the New York Knicks, the Wizards' JaVale McGee set a screen and rolled to the basket. A Wizard flipped the ball up towards the rim and the crowd held their breaths as McGee caught the ball and tried to slam it down. He missed the dunk, but that was the beginning of the night's excitement.
From that point on, the crowd was focused on McGee. I couldn't stop watching, waiting for what he would do next. Later, a similar play with a similar result as McGee missed another alleyoop slam. Finally, McGee caught a lob pass from Juan Dixon with one hand high above the rim and threw it down. The crowd erupted.
Every second McGee was on the floor, there was a feeling of electricity and anticipation in the arena. Even the most basic rebound by JaVale had the crowd pumped up. Many of the crowd had never heard of JaVale McGee before, but I guarantee you they do now.
JaVale made several rookie mistakes. The missed dunks, some missed rebounds, some tough missed blocks. But he made up for it singlehandedly in one play. On the defensive end of the floor, McGee swatted away a weak Knick's shot. JaVale was not finished. He ran the floor and was rewarded with a lob pass that he threw down with authority. The crowd went wild.
Later in the game when Juan Dixon threw up a lob from half court, the crowd knew what was about to happen. McGee grabbed the ball at the rim, was hit & fouled, and sank the basket. As McGee flexed and screamed, many of the crowd rose to their feet to applaud the young rookie.
The feeling McGee brought to the Verizon Center was reminiscent of a time when Gilbert Arenas used to bring the fans to their feet. The crowd was not just watching a basketball game. They were anticipating something special happening. And thanks to McGee, some special things did happen.