|Sophomore Team's DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors slam dunks during the Rookie Challenge. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
TORONTO - Ajax native Justin Darlington first dunked a basketball at age 16.
Raptors star DeMar DeRozan did it in the sixth grade.
Yet Darlington, like DeRozan is at the NBA’s all-star weekend in Los Angeles competing for slam dunk glory.
Six years after his first jam, Darlington has become one of the most well-known high-flyers around, earning the nickname ‘Jus Fly’ and from SLAM magazine, the title of ‘best dunker in the world.’
While DeRozan will compete at the big show on Saturday against the likes of Blake Griffin, Darlington took on three opponents on Friday night with $10,000 U.S. on the line at the second annual Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown.
Darlington, a former star high jumper at McGill, is shocked with how far dunking has taken him.
“I would have never guessed, because to me it was a little bit of a habit,” Darlington said over the line from L.A.
Now Darlington travels to all kinds of corners of the globe — he’s particularly big in China.
At times he finds himself in gyms with high-profile NBA players.
Instead of getting advice, the confident Darlington tends to dispense it.
“They usually don’t give advice cause they’re already in awe of what I’m doing,” he said.
Last week, Darlington helped give DeRozan some ideas to try on Saturday.
“I gave him a few dunks that I’ve done. He tried a few of them out and one of them he got down on his first try,” Darlington said.
“I don’t see why he shouldn’t win.”