When Kenyon Martin Jr. was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 2020 NBA Draft, it was unknown whether he would get any playing time, as he was viewed by many as a long-term project. This was a fair synopsis at the time, for a myriad of reasons.
For one, he withdrew from Vanderbilt University, passing on the opportunity to receive valuable coaching from Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who played 18 seasons in the NBA, and made two consecutive All-Star teams. Martin decided to enroll at IMG Academy for a post-graduate season to help prepare himself for the NBA Draft.
This meant that Martin’s only valuable experience came at the high school level, which is much less competitive than going against the top collegiate players in the country. What was known about Martin was that he possesses unlimited athleticism, as he posted a 38.5 inch vertical at the 2020 NBA Draft Combine.
This should come as no surprise, considering the genes that he possesses, from his father Kenyon Martin having been a high-riser over the course of his 15-year NBA career. The 20-year-old Martin became a valuable player for the Rio Grande Vipers, which is the Houston Rockets’ G-League affiliate, as he posted averages of 17.5 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.8 blocks, and was named to the G-League’s All-Rookie Team.
At the NBA level, Martin has developed nicely under Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas, as the 6-foot-6 forward has posted averages of 14.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.5 blocks per 36 minutes this season. All season long, Martin has continued to flash his elite explosiveness, as he’s regularly gone viral, whether it be because of a highlight dunk or a block on a 7-foot center.
Brook Lopez’ embarrassment continues from Houston Rockets forward KJ Martin’s dunk
But perhaps the biggest highlight that Martin has had all season came when the Houston Rockets faced the Milwaukee Bucks on May 7th, as the rookie forward put 2019-20 All-Defensive center Brook Lopez on a poster, by delivering the dunk heard ’round the world.
Brook Lopez’s reaction after this Kenyon Martin Jr. dunk ? pic.twitter.com/E1o5UbTOw3
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 8, 2021
The play went viral not only because of how Martin skied over Lopez, but also because of how Lopez appeared to have been downright traumatized afterwards. Unfortunately for Lopez, the play landed him on Shaquille O’Neal‘s Shaqtin’ a Fool, which is a list that no player wants to be on, as it usually includes gaffes, brain farts, and flat out shameful moments.
Even worse for Lopez is that he was actually atop O’Neal’s list, earning the most humiliating play across the Association from the previous week.
— Shaqtin' a Fool (@shaqtin) May 14, 2021
The coverage of the slam starts at the 1:37 point in the clip, and the commentary of the play would make Lopez even more embarrassed. O’Neal started out by delivering the hilarious line of “Brook Lopez: the only person that was scared of the Rockets this season,” and closed the clip out by saying “put that on a GIF,” which is pure gold from Shaq.
The reaction from Lopez was then cropped and included in several different scenarios, including one in which Lopez appeared to be spooked by a rather large set of toes and another where the visibly shook-up Lopez appeared in front of a male who was wrapped in a towel in the sauna, with TNT’s Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson’s face cropped on to the torso of said male.
Johnson followed up with, “Come on! Now that is totally uncalled for. There’s no telling where that’s going to show up now.”
Fortunately for Lopez, this play won’t show up on Shaqtin’ A Fool anymore, as the featured clips are selected week-by-week.
But he surely didn’t expect to be at the top of Shaq’s list and he definitely would have preferred to have not been on the list at all.