It’s early March, and that can only mean one thing: March Madness is just around the corner.
It’s that time of year when we buckle down for some serious basketball season research and start filling out our brackets in the foolish hope that our No. 1 pick isn’t going to get knocked out in the first round by a Cinderella team. We paid so much attention to the NCAA basketball tournament that a 2022 study by WalletHub found that disengaged workers cost employers nearly $14 billion each year.
Yes, it’s a pretty big deal, which is why Google is welcoming the tournament and all the craziness that comes with it with a Yoodle marking the first slam dunk in basketball history. (A Yoodle is similar to Google’s famous Doodle, except it’s animated and appears on YouTube.)
The Yoodle, which involves a pair of players squaring off in a one-on-one game, marks the 87th anniversary later this month of the first slam dunk in the sport’s history. It happened at the West Side YMCA in New York on March 9, 1936, when two American teams were competing to decide who would sail to Berlin for the Olympic debut of the sport invented just 45 years earlier by James Naismith.
The shot by Joe Fortenberry, a 6-foot-6 center for the McPherson, Kansas Oilers, left observers “simply stunned,” wrote Arthur J. Daley, a New York Times reporter covering the game that night. Fortenberry “left the floor, reached up and dunked the ball down into the hoop, like a coffee shop customer dipping a coffee roll,” wrote Daley, unwittingly giving the iconic move his name. The Oilers would go on to win the game, as well as the gold medal in Berlin.
But not everyone was impressed, and the NCAA banned the dunk in 1967, arguing that it was “not a skillful shot” and could lead to injuries. Others speculated that the ban was imposed because UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) routinely dunked opponents during his freshman year in college, leading many to refer to the ban as the “Lew Alcindor Rule”.
Alcindor rejected the NCAA’s explanation, saying the ban was more rooted in racism.
“To me the new no-dunk rule smacks of discrimination,” he told the Chicago Defender at the time. “When you look at it … most of the people who dunk are black athletes.”
The ban, which never made it to the NBA, lasted a decade before being lifted, apparently due to its popularity among fans. And its popularity continues to grow. In 2022, YouTube videos of slam dunks scored 9 billion views, a 25% increase over the previous year, according to Google.
The most viewed video related to slam dunks features basketball great Michael Jordan. The video, Michael Jordan Top 50 All Time Plays, has amassed more than 91 million views over the past 10 years. Rounding out the list of players with the most spectacular slam dunks of all time are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Shaquille O’Neal.
But as popular as the slam dunk is on YouTube, one-on-one (or 1v1) is still pretty popular. Google reports that basketball videos with “1v1” in the title had more than 195 million views in 2022. Some of the most popular YouTube channels with “1v1” in the title include Professor Live, Jesser, Ballislife, Jeffrey Bui and CashNasty.