Ish Smith surprised even himself with rare putback dunk


WASHINGTON -- If you were surprised when Ish Smith threw down a two-handed putback dunk against the Indiana Pacers back on Feb. 16, you were not alone. He was, too.

Smith, 33, is listed at 6-feet tall and rarely dunks. He's usually the smallest guy on the court and, though he can dunk, he often opts for layups to save his legs. 

His dunk against the Pacers was his first of the season and just his second in the last four years. It wasn't just any dunk, either. After Deni Avdija missed a fastbreak layup, Smith skied above the rim to slam it home with two hands.

Believe it or not, Smith said he has never dunked like that before. Like, not in a game or a practice or at any level.

"I’ve never done nothing like that," Smith said.

Smith says the closest he ever came to having a putback dunk was all the way back in high school. Smith is in his 12th NBA season and played four years in college at Wake Forest.

So, we're talking quite a while ago, like the early 2000s.

"I could tell you the team we were playing against, we were playing against a team called Mt. Pleasant my junior year. The ball came off, I thought I had it perfectly but they called it goaltending, so obviously it was not a putback dunk," he said.

This isn't to sell Smith short as an athlete, he can dunk just fine. A putback dunk, however, requires the right opportunity and timing. They are rare for any point guard, much less one who is 6-feet tall and averages 15.0 minutes per game for the season.


Smith, in fact, said the play was so unexpected he didn't really know what to do once it was done.

"I kind of surprised myself, I’m not gonna lie to you," Smith said. "I was like ‘oh, do you jump off the rim real fast or do you just hang here?’"