The way things are going for the Miami Heat, the Miami Marlins might be the only team left in South Florida playing basketball after Wednesday. With the Heat on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, the Marlins — and Dee Gordon, in particular — showed on Friday that hoops season may not end if the Heat are eliminated.
Gordon and pitcher Mat Latos combined forces by celebrating the Marlins’ walk-off victory in extra innings by dunking on Christian Yelich, who delivered the game-winning hit in the 10th.
As Yelich was being interviewed by FoxSports in-game reporter Jessica Blaylock after the Marlins’ first victory of the season, Latos held a miniature basketball goal over Yelich’s head as Gordon emerged out of nowhere to complete a flying dunk with a Nerf ball.
Gordon rated his dunk as a “6.”
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“I probably could have got a little higher, windmill it or something,” Gordon said. “I just wanted to make sure I executed the dunk. Next time we’re going to go for style points.”
Gordon stands only 5-11. But he’s no slouch with a basketball. It was the sport he played throughout high school until switching to baseball his senior year. He received basketball scholarship offers from the University of Louisville, as well as a number of small colleges in Florida. But his father, former major-leaguer pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, convinced him to stick with baseball.
“I’m not tall, but I could get up,” Gordon said. “I could get up above the square [on the backboard].”
Gordon joked that if he was a little taller, “I’d be dunking on LeBron [James] or something.”
If nothing else, Gordon and Latos created a new celebration for walk-off wins, one they intend to use the rest of the season.
Manager Mike Redmond said he’s fine with the dunking theatrics as long as those taking part in it are careful. Former Marlin Chris Coghlan sustained a season-ending knee injury a few years ago when he landed awkwardly after slamming a shaving cream pie in the face of Wes Helms after a walk-off win.
Redmond said he told Gordon “to be careful” after Friday’s celebration.
“It’s definitely a concern,” Redmond said. “But you’re always concerned when guys are carrying on and running around with 30-pound buckets of water, too. But you also want them to have fun and enjoy it, and I think that was probably the proper time for that.”
With no home runs in their first five games, the Marlins are closing in on the franchise record for number of games to start a season without one.
The inaugural 1993 Marlins hold the mark by going without a home run their first six games.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. Tampa Bay Rays RHP Nathan Karns (0-1, 9.53), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (0-1, 94.50) at Atlanta Braves RHP Shelby Miller (0-0, 0.00), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.