By Brian Taylor
This past Saturday we all got to enjoy the dunk-tastic stylings of some of today’s high-flyers; New York’s Nate Rob (who would’ve been a basketball legend if he pulled off the blackjack table/playboy dealer dunk), Dwight “Double-Double” Howard, and Gerald Green. In the desert, anything goes, including getting posterized, emasculated and dunked out of the league. It’s been going on for years (see KJ and “Thunder Dan” in the archives) and out of all the Phoenix Suns, who always seem to have three stars on hand, “Tommy Gun” Chambers was probably the most feared.
Kevin Johnson’s dunks were unexpected and were more of a pimp-slap to defenders, because the mild-mannered Johnson stood only 6’1” and didn’t cast an imposing figure. Dan Majerle crushed his dunk-test dummies when they underestimated him with the “slow-white shooter” stereotype, receiving a face full o’ Spalding at the end. The one guy who always a threat to tear the damn rim down was Tom Chambers, who at 6’10”, had the height, the size, and a deceptive quickness that had a lot of dudes looking for help defense.
Who says Mormons can’t dunk? Coming out of the University of Utah in the 1981 Draft (which featured Mark Aguirre, Isiah Thomas, etc.) Tom was picked eight by the San Diego Clippers, a team who started their tradition of sucking every year. Chambers lucked out and got shipped (for James Donaldson) to the pre-Starbucks Supersonics, teaming up with “Curly Perm” Jack Sikma, the X-Man and sniper Dale Ellis. Seattle had one of the meanest front lines in the NBA, but unfortunately, they’d run into Worthy, Jabbar and Magic every year and get run out of the playoffs. It wasn’t until he went to the Valley of the Sun that Tom got “Sick-Wid-It”.
Don’t believe me? There was the not-too publicized reverse jam over Bird, Parish and Kevin McHale (don’t worry, here’s the clip). Or even better yet, why don’t you ask former Knick and current ESPN talking head Mark Jackson. Most normal basketball fans have seen this clip by now, but I’ll try and spill it out here on screen for you:
The Suns are on a two-on-one break (bad place to begin with, right?) when KJ slips a pass to a streaking, 6’10” freight train in Chambers who not only elevated for the dunk, but USED MARK JACKSON AS A STEPLADDER to get to the rim. On the clip, Tom’s head is like a foot above the rim, and he dunks the ball downward.
The thing is, Tommy had at least 20-30 dunks that were just as (if not more) embarrassing than that one. In Phoenix, his reputation was so vicious, that when the NBA finally came to SEGA Genesis, they gave Tom an insane, triple-pump dunk………from the three-point line (which was one of the greatest cheats in video game history). In the 1993 Finals, Tom gave the Suns a spark, which was all he could do against Jordan’s dynasty.
After that 1993 season, Tom moved on to his home state of Utah, providing some sixth man help off the bench and helping a young (back then) Utah squad develop. After a year in Europe, Tom did the obligatory retirement tour, with stops in Charlotte and a VERY brief, one game stay in Philly before chilling for good.
Nowadays, Tom does PR work and community stuff for the Suns, being one of that franchises favored sons. But seriously, forget the coffee today, check out these links.