OAKLAND –- Warriors general manager Bob Myers walked past Festus Ezeli in the victorious postgame locker room and stopped long enough to express satisfaction.
“That might be my favorite play of the year,” Myers said. “I’m serious.”
The play – The Block – came with 9:07 left in the first quarter of the Warriors’ 112-108 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Clippers star Blake Griffin, coming out of a pick-and-roll, gathered a bounce pass from point guard Chris Paul and went airborne with the ball palmed high over his head. As one of the NBA’s most noted highlight dunkers, this usually results in two points for Los Angeles.
Not this time.
Ezeli rotated across the key and went up to meet Griffin and executed a clean snuff of the dunk attempt. The sellout crowd at Oracle Arena roared at such high decibels it shook the building.
“I was supposed to pull over early, and I was just a tad bit late,” Ezeli said. “I’ve seen a lot of Top-10 countdowns where that exact same play happened and it didn’t end well for the guy under the basket. So I was just glad I was able to get the block.”
Said interim coach Luke Walton: “It’s not an easy thing to see Blake Griffin go up in the air and go up and try to block his shot. Festus was great for us tonight.”
Griffin laughed it off, saying he was similarly rejected “at practice the other day” by teammate J.J. Redick.
Griffin was joking, totally joking.
Ezeli’s block, however, was dead serious. And it’ll paint him as the victor in a battle with a guy who rarely loses at the rim.