James Comey Can (Probably) Dunk

James Comey: The hands can slam (probably). Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

As millions of Americans tuned in Thursday to watch former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, there was one pressing question on everyone's mind: Can that man rise above the rim and throw one down?

Comey is 6-foot-8, and it's a time-honored tradition in these United States to ask the tall guy if: 1. he plays hoops, and 2. if he can yam. The good folks over at Deadspin published a post during Comey's testimony asking if the FBI director could dunk, and the debate was heated. Points in favor of dunking ability: height and a high school playing career. Point against: He's 56 years old.

I read that post and then waxed and waned between yes and no. Initially, I was a yes—at 6-foot-8 there ain't far to go. I even voted yes in the poll from a Deadspin deputy editor, Barry Petchesky. (Its final results showed 66 percent of the nearly 4,000 votes thought the same.) But doubt creeped in a while after my gut told me yes. Sure, it's not unprecedented for middle-aged people to dunk. Dr. J even claimed he could dunk at 65 years old...but he's Dr. J. And I remembered I once played soccer with a 6-foot-5 goalie who, at age 21, could dunk a tennis ball—but failed every time with a regulation basketball. You just never know, man. Now, I was really curious.

In a quest for answers, I got ahold of Columbia University professor Daniel Richman—who as of Thursday is known to many as the Comey friend who leaked to the press the former FBI director's memo about conversations with Trump—to get his quick thoughts on his associate's ability to stuff the rock on a regulation rim. Richman revealed to Newsweek that Comey has dunked relatively recently.

"He dunked when he turned 50 and does not plan to make another attempt until he is 60," Richman wrote in an email. "It is quite possible that some close to [Comey] will try to derail this plan."

So, the last time Comey attempted a dunk he was successful, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he can still throw one down. At the moment, I don't have details about where the successful attempt took place or what the slam looked like. (Deadspin wondered in its post if it would be a two-handed dunk, one-handed, off the run, etc.) There does remain some doubt about his current ability, however, since that dunk took place some six years ago, and Richman implied that Comey's family might try to steer the former director away from an attempt on his 60th.

I've reached out for further details on Comey's ability to dunk and will update as necessary.