Kevin Love almost didn't make it to Christmas.
In the first quarter of the Grizzlies' duel against the Cavaliers, a hard-charging Ja Morant was running to the bucket as Love was in the way to take a charge. The rookie decided against passing back to the outside or finessing his way around for the layup. Instead, he chose to try going over Love and nearly clotheslined him with his groin for a poster.
The dunk ended up clanging the back of the rim. It was a spectacular miss, but ultimately a miss, which means Love avoided complete humiliation. Grizzlies would end up going back to Memphis with a memory and an L after falling to Cleveland, 114-107.
Morant's aerobatic audacity immediately recalled what Vince Carter did to Frédéric Weis at the 2000 Summer Olympics. The difference, of course, is that Carter did score the dunk and getting yammed on became the highlight of Weis' career. Weis was on Love's mind when he spoke to reporters after the game about being a near victim.
“The kid jumped over me. Can you do a medical retire and still get all your money?”— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) December 21, 2019
Kevin Love didn’t think Ja Morant would take off from where he did. He was wrong!pic.twitter.com/2b5tMtbSa9
"I was so glad he missed that dunk," Love said. "I look back, I helped him up—that was my tip of the hat to him. The kid is really special and you gotta give credit where credit is due."
Love also gave Morant his props on Twitter. Read his and others' reactions below.
Ja almost ended my professional career with this dunk...that kid is something special 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 https://t.co/5SxCItAMba— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) December 21, 2019
Kevin Love almost died tonight pic.twitter.com/bv0WtTOSKp— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) December 21, 2019
Ja Morant almost dunking over Kevin Love vs. Vince Carter dunking over Frederic Weis at the Olympics.— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) December 21, 2019
I’m gonna call it even.
Sure, Ja didn’t score, but Kevin Love is a 5x All-Star and NBA champion, while Frederic Weis is only known because he’s the guy VC dunked over. pic.twitter.com/5B1IaJPqAG
If this woulda went in, Kevin Love would be required to retire. pic.twitter.com/ERVHFaDeVo— [ψ Ω | Jasaiah | Ω ψ] (@GrizzDynamics) December 21, 2019
Ja Morant makes the Missed Dunk Hall Of Fame pic.twitter.com/SF18UubLJJ— David Astramskas (@redapples) December 21, 2019
I'm going to tell my kids Ja Morant made this dunk. pic.twitter.com/DBihMFgZX9— meh. (@mehmentality) December 21, 2019
We almost lost k love tonight— Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) December 21, 2019