Griffin drives to dunk victory
By Sports Network
|Blake Griffin jumps over a car while competing in the slam dunk contest during the NBA's all-star weekend in Los Angeles on Saturday. (REUTERS/Gary Hershorn)
LOS ANGELES -- Clippers rookie Blake Griffin was voted the Dunk Contest champion Saturday night, beating Washington's JaVale McGee after leaping over the hood of a car to complete his final slam.
The two advanced to the final round in an event that was part dunk contest and part theater, and full of creativity. Griffin received 68 percent of the vote from fans to come away the winner at Staples Center.
For Griffin's final slam, a Kia Optima was brought onto the court as his dunk advisor, TNT analyst Kenny Smith, spoke to the crowd. The four-door sedan was set up horizontally in the lane with Griffin's teammate, Baron Davis, inside with the ball.
As if that was not enough, Smith brought a gospel choir to the court. With it singing the song, "I Believe I Can Fly," Griffin leaped over the hood of the car, caught the ball that Davis sent through the sunroof, and threw down a two-handed slam.
And that was only one dunk. It was by far the most elaborate of the night, in terms of props, and left little excitement for McGee, who closed the contest with a right-handed slam off a backboard bounce. The results were announced shortly thereafter.
While Griffin's final dunk was the most elaborate, it was hardly the only creative dunk of the night.
In addition to Griffin and McGee, Toronto's DeMar DeRozan and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka competed in the event. All were matched up with a coach of sorts, to help create innovative dunks.
DeRozan was partnered with legendary dunker Darryl Dawkins, who wore a reptile-green animal print suit for the occasion. Ibaka had teammate Kevin Durant, McGee was partnered with retired NBA star Chris Webber, while Griffin was set up with Smith.
Each contestant got two dunks in the first round, which were scored on a scale of 50, and there was a two-minute time limit for each dunk.
The theatrics started immediately.
Dawkins introduced the first dunk of the night with a placard reading "East Bay Funk Remix." It took DeRozan a few tries before catching the ball off the support post along the left baseline, crossing it under his legs and throwing down a windmill slam.
Next was the 6-foot-10 Ibaka, who entered the court backed by NBA Africa flags and dunked after leaping from the foul line.
For his second dunk in the first round, Ibaka set up a short skit in which a small child run onto the court looking for his toy. The toy was actually a small plush Thunder mascot hanging off the rim, and Ibaka grabbed it off with his mouth as he dunked.
But McGee likely had the most consistently creative and physically impressive dunks of the night.
For his first, he brought out a second hoop to sit adjacent to the first, and carried two balls, with the idea of dunking both simultaneously. He added the twist of bouncing one off the left backboard before slamming it with his right hand, and failed a number of times.
Eventually, with 12.6 seconds left on the dunk clock, he threw both in slightly out of sync, but earned 50 points.
McGee one-upped himself for his second first-round dunk, dunking three balls. The third ball was brought onto the court by his mother, former WNBA player Pamela McGee, in a special case.
McGee scored well on both dunks and advanced to the final round with Griffin, who has made a habit of recording highlight-reel dunks over the first half of the season. His first two Saturday were a two-handed 360 slam, and an emphatic right-handed windmill after he caught the ball off the side of the backboard.
In the first dunk in the final round, Griffin banked the ball off the backboard before throwing it through and hanging on the rim by the inside of his elbow.
The 7-foot McGee then managed to reach back for a baseline dunk, despite almost knocking his head on the backboard.
The event capped the NBA's All-Star Saturday Night. Prior to the dunk contest, the Miami Heat's James Jones won the Three-Point Contest, Golden State second- year guard Stephen Curry won the Skills Challenge, and the Atlanta team won the Shooting Stars event.