Asia’s best dunker Sherman Su is in Hong Kong to slam dunks and racial stereotypes
The Chinese Canadian revels in representing the Asian community in the dunk world and ‘shutting people up’ with his skills
An Asian man walks into a dunk contest – cue whispers and glances from a sceptical crowd. Little do they know he is Sherman Su, the dunking phenom with an NBA Sprite Slam Showdown trophy in the cabinet.
“It threw me off at the beginning but now I love it,” said the 23-year-old Canadian, who was born to Chinese parents. “Being the underdog where everyone doesn’t expect me to do anything crazy, it gives me a boost in the contest and I look forward to their reactions when I hit the dunk.”
Toronto-based Su is doing some final fine-tuning for Dunk Kong – Hong Kong’s first slam dunk showcase, to be held on May 2 – featuring Su, NBA All-Star Shawn ‘The Matrix’ Marion, the world’s best dunker Jordan Kilganon, and a host of local and overseas professional basketball players.
This will be Su’s first trip to Hong Kong – and the Far East, for that matter – and he is on a mission to sink buckets and stereotypes.
“You rarely see Asian people in the dunking world, so I’ve always wanted to dunk in front of a big Chinese community,” said 6ft 1in Su, who has been dunking since the age of 15.
“I want to showcase that it doesn’t matter if you’re Asian or of another ethnicity; if you put in the work, everything falls into place.”
Having previously professed his satisfaction in “shutting people up” with his dunks, Su recollects the school basketball scene when he first got started.
"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light". This is probably one of the scariest and craziest thing I have ever done in my life... Almost burned off my manbun. Big thanks to Mark for the opportunity and Jason for keeping me alive Do not attempt this without professional supervision!
A post shared by "It's a Sher-Thing" 蘇徳明 (@shermansu) on Apr 22, 2017 at 8:40am PDT
“There were a lot of Asian stereotypes growing up,” he said. “I had YouTube and [different] social media – all these people would tell me to go back to school. All you do is go to school and get a lawyer or doctor job.
“After doing this for eight years, every time hit a very tricky dunk in the gym, I’d always get these crazy reactions. Ever since then I’ve loved proving people wrong and breaking that stereotype. It’s one of the main reasons I love doing this.”
Su and Hawaiian-Japanese dunker Brandon Matano have cemented themselves as Asia’s top dunkers in recent years. He won the Sprite Slam award at just 17 – remarkably, it was the first dunk contest he signed up for.
After appearing on US reality television show The Dunk King and at a myriad of top-level contests, Su feels a responsibility to represent the often overshadowed Asian community in the dunk world.
And what better opportunity than at Dunk Kong, which will see players from local basketball Eastern Long Lions rub shoulders with Su and former professionals from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
“There aren’t many Asian dunkers when I compete [in dunk contests] – it’s almost always against black or white players – but as long as you keep focusing and stay on track, they’ll be fine,” said Su.
The kinesiology major at York University, Toronto, added that creating and performing dunks is not simply a matter of smashing the ball into the basket – rather, it is like writing “poetry in the air”.
“Dunking is an art. Someone could do a windmill dunk, but to me, everything about it has to be perfect,” he said.
Watch Su’s dunks
“Their legs have to be kicked out, they have to finish it in style … dunking, style and height are the main things I provide. I would hit the windmill 10 times in the same practice session because I would want to hit it in a certain way.”
Hongkongers can expect to see Su’s signature ‘360 scoop’ – a move he learned from top dunker Kilganon – as well as the “basic” jumping over people or objects, and a selection of his own creations.
“There will be days where I’ll be on my bed before I sleep and I think for hours and hours about dunking; what I can add, can I just tap it there or put it off the backboard. My mind is constantly thinking. I’m obsessed.”
Dunk Kong arrives in Wan Chai’s Southorn Stadium on May 2 at 7pm. Aside from the dunking, audiences will be treated to performances from renowned Japanese dance group Cyber Japan Dancers. Tickets go from HK$380.