The Significance of Brittney Griner's Third Dunk

By Ben York,
Posted: July 7, 2014

For Mercury players and staff, it's really not a big deal.

That is to say, a Brittney Griner dunk is something of a common occurrence on the practice floor of US Airways Center.

In fact, it's something she ardently works on - not simply because she can, but because it makes sense from a basketball and developmental standpoint.

Griner often practices slamming the ball in multiple ways from various areas and positions around the rim. In doing so, it helps with her explosiveness around the basket (which has unquestionably improved twofold year over year) along with her footwork in the paint on both ends of the floor.

Last year, WNBA fans surely remember how Brittney Griner became the third WNBA player ever to dunk in a game (and the first to do it twice) in her massively hyped - and rightfully so - debut as a pro against the Chicago Sky. In that instance, however, both of Griner's dunks came in the fourth quarter with the Sky nursing a comfortable, double-digit lead.

Certainly, Griner dunking the ball twice in her first action as a professional was nothing short of eye-opening. But an effortless, convincing dunk during a crucial part of a rivalry game?

That's on another level entirely.

In their 94-89 win over the Los Angeles Sparks Sunday, Griner dunked again. This time, though, it occurred at the 5:48 mark of the fourth quarter when the Mercury was down by five points.

After Penny Taylor forced the Sparks' defense to collapse on her near the paint, Griner was left wide open along the baseline. Taylor tossed a perfect bounce pass to Griner who then dunked it home which subsequently cut the Sparks' lead to three, 80-77. From that point forward, the Mercury would go on a 17-9 run to close out the win.

This wasn't a barely-over-the-rim jam for show. Nay, in this writer's opinion, it was the greatest dunk in WNBA history. Griner's slam was forceful, powerful, and, most importantly, unforced.

Indeed, it came instinctively and naturally during the course of the game.

"We have experience in winning close games so that helped tonight," Griner said after the game. "We don't like close games, but it definitely helps make us better and shows how we continue to push through."

One thing's for certain: in terms of Brittney Griner's potential and development, we're only at the tip of the iceberg.

Watch Griner's dunk below.