MIAMI — Buddy the Cat cruised to victory in the annual NCBA Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday, throwing down a thunderous jam that rattled the backboard.
“Boom shakalaka!” the announcers shouted as the 10-pound gray tabby returned to Earth, flexing his muscles before the camera in celebration.
“Buddy now dunking and spelunking, flying and energizing!” said color commentator and Hall of Fame Knicks guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier. “A serendipitous throw-down from the inimitable feline!”
For Buddy, the moment was vindication from his late-round loss to Stephen Purry in the three-point contest, when he missed a critical shot that rimmed out as time expired.
“Terrible!” ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said after the three-point competition. “Buddy is the most overhyped ball player in all of catdom! He shouldn’t even have a roster spot. He’s going to embarrass himself during the dunk contest on Sunday, take that to the bank.”
After Buddy’s critic-silencing performance in the dunk contest, Smith revised his earlier hot take.
“Amazing!” Smith said. “Has there ever been a better player than Buddy the Cat? I don’t think so. That cat is so incredible, even dogs want to be him. I called it! I said he was gonna take it to the bank!”
The high-flying feline was a favorite topic of conversation among the analysts on TNT.
“Everybody knows Buddy,” Shaquille O’Neal said. “Forty points, fifty points. Buddy!”
The mercurial Charles Barkley, who is normally stingy with praise for the game’s young players, nodded in agreement.
“That cat is incredible,” Barkley said. “I thought he was gonna be turrible, but he was tremendous. That dunk…and by the way, I love dunking Krispy Kreme in my coffee. Sit back with my newspaper and my Krispy Kreme and read the headlines. Can you believe what’s happening in Cuba right now? I can’t. People taking to the streets and…by the way, those cigars are terrific. You ever have a Cuban? So smooth…”