If you have been watching the Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and Warriors, you have probably seen, or at least heard about, The Dunk King, TNT's dunk contest show. What you may not have seen or heard is that a Hawaii guy is on the show among the top 32 dunkers in the world.
"I never really thought of myself as a dunker, I'm more of a basketball player, I play ball," said Brandon Matano. I just happen to be able to dunk."
Matano attended University Lab High School his freshman and sophomore years before moving to New Jersey. He returned to Hawaii, attending UH and redshirting on the 2004 basketball team before joining the Rainbow Warriors football team. Years after leaving UH, a couple of his dunk videos on YouTube landed him on Team Flight Brothers.
"There are maybe like four for five core groups that do dunk shows and post dunk videos and stuff like that," Matano said. "Overseas dunking is really big. They have a lot of dunk shows, exhibitions and contests for big money. It's just now getting popular in the states."
TNT decided to invite the top dunkers from all over the globe and have them put on a show in front of a few former NBA superstars and a national TV audience.
"It was cool to Shaq and all their reactions," Matano recalled. "Brent Barry won the dunk contest before in the NBA, so it was cool to see him trip out when we do our dunks."
The NBA dunk contest saw a resurgence this season with Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine's jaw-dropping slams, thanks in part to this somewhat underground dunk scene Matano is a part of.
"To be honest I was just glad that they started watching our videos and getting our ideas. For the NBA guys to kind of reach out and kind of contact us to get some input on what they can do to make the dunk contest better, it was awesome to see."
Matano resides in Reno, Nevada, but is still pursuing his dream of playing professional basketball.
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