By Reinis Lacis (@LamarMatic)
It’s a photography known by most who have scoured the internet for NBA content for long enough. A piece of residue from the mid 2000’s when video footage of every highlight dunk or mishap wasn’t uploaded on your favorite social network within a few minutes (or seconds).
It was used for comic relief back then on various message boards just as you can find evidence of the same happening nowadays if you google “Mike Dunleavy Ira Newble reddit” to look for such evidence on the always-humming r/nba community.
Yet there has never been an explanation or footage of what exactly happened to cause this ridiculous collision, caught on camera by The Plain Dealer’s Roadell Hickman.
Or at least that was the case until now…
Turns out there’s nothing other-worldly or truly random behind this alleged kick by Ira Newble. It’s as ordinary as an NBA player attacking the basket with an athletic drive and losing control over his body in mid-air.
To prove the sad truth and refuse an alternate explanation, here is a step-by-step clarification which demonstrates that this is the actual play, which I found on a November 15, 2004 game between the Cavaliers and the Warriors.
1) In the photography we can see that Ira Newble is clearly playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers while Mike Dunleavy is on the Golden State Warriors. The colors of the court and the jerseys suggest that the game was held in Cleveland’s Gund Arena and was a home game for the Cavs.
2) Ira Newble’s first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers was the 2003-04 campaign. Mike Dunleavy’s rookie year for the Warriors came in 2002-03. Thus we’re looking for a Warriors – Cavaliers game at Cleveland which didn’t occur before the 2003-04 season or preseason.
3) This Ohio News Photographer journal of April, 2005 has Roadell Hickman as the November winner for the best sports photography with this exact photo. Moreover, people on Houston Rockets Clutch Fans board are discussing the photography in November of 2004.
4) Even if Hickman was to win an award which didn’t coincide with the date of the actual game and the message board has a faulty time and date, we’re now looking at a game at Cleveland which happened at least between the start of the 2003-04 season and April of 2005.
5) Cleveland and Golden State didn’t play any preseason games those two years, per ESPN’s schedule.
6) All of the previous information points to two possible games, which can be tracked down thanks to Basketball-Reference’s Head2Head Finder. April 3, 2004 or November 15, 2004 as the two franchises host each other only once per year as they play in opposite conferences.
7) The latter seems to be the one due to the award Hickman received and the material that can be found in Internet history. Before November of 2004 you can’t find anything of the sort when googling for “Newble Dunleavy”. Two days after the GSW – CLE game the aforementioned Clutch Fans topic pops up. Some blog has an entry “When NBA Players Attack” which includes the same picture on November, the 22nd. An NBA Live board has a discussion dedicated to this photo on the 27th.
8) Lastly, if you look at the spot that both of them take within the restricted area, at the way Dunleavy’s arms are by his sides, the positioning of Newble’s arms as he loses balance, etc. and compare them between the photo and the video, you can see that this is the right play.
Consider this mythical incident solved.