NBA All-Star Weekend: Shooting Stars (Part 2)

Janie Octia
The Score

By Patricia Bermudez-Hizon
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia

The weekend's sidelight headlines were all about the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest.  And for good reason.  It was probably one of the most entertaining in the past years!  First of all, you had some former NBA greats as "coaches" doing the dirty work — trash talking, hyping up the crowd, and selling it to the esteemed panel of judges:  Brent Barry, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins,  James Worthy, and Julius Erving.

Chocolate Thunder, Darryl Dawkins named every single dunk Toronto Raptor's DeMar DeRozen did.  The East Bay Funk Mix where the ball was tossed by a teammate off the side of the back board and DeRozen caught it and reversed it was absolutely sick.  Then he got a 50 showcasing his athletic ability off a pass-to-himself-catching-it-in-mid-air-for-a-reverse-slam.  But unfortunately it wasn't enough for the judges who seemed fixated on Griffin all night long.  By the way, DeRozen tweeted "No more dunk contests for me unless it's in Toronto."

Serge Ibaka is another one many believed got robbed!  He took off from behind free throw line for a flush!  Behind it, not in front of it.  Yet he had to settle for a 45.  His teammate / coach Kevin Durant wasn't pleased with the outcome either.   He also had a skit and all that involved a little kid who looked like he's a mini version of the Far East Movement group who had his teddy bear hanging on the rim which Ibaka had to get with his teeth as he stuffed that ball in the hoop with a one-hander.

Chris Webber had some words to say to Dwight Howard who was at that time sitting on the coverage panel.  He announced that they'd do something way better than what Howard had done when he dunked on an elevated 12-foot rim. And they did!  Sorta.

Washington's Javale McGee pulled out some of the most interesting dunks of the night with a double dunk on two baskets beside one another.  He too had a 50.  He defied gravity in his next round when he pulled off a three-balls-in-one-hoop slam.

But even the ones that have never been seen or fathomed were overshadowed.  Why?  Two words:  Blake Griffin.

In his pre-dunk interview he said that his coach Kenny Smith "didn't really help" him with his preparations but Smith worked over time to sell Griffin come show time.   In the war of words, he certainly upped the ante.  Griffin had an impressive 360 that showcased his athleticism to open up his bid.

In the finals, his first dunk was ala Vince Carter where he stuffed the ball all the way to his elbow, and he hung on.  McGee, the other finalist had a one handed wind mill dunk from the baseline.

What set Griffin apart was the tinsel town worthy show that unfolded on center court which Kenny Smith orchestrated.   A brand new Kia was rolled out, pushed around by big men wearing white gloves…  Then Smith asked Griffin if he believed he could do it.  To encourage him, a gospel choir in full gear came out and sang "I Believe I Can Fly".  And, fellow LA Clippers Barron Davis  popped out of the sunroof of the Kia and was the one who passed him the ball.  He flew from inside the free throw line, over the hood of the car (not the roof mind you) at the bottom of the circle, caught the ball in mid air, dunked it, and landed on the brand new Kia, who by the way was the sponsor of the event.

Purists argue it wasn't the best or most athletic of all, others say the NBA has conspired to sell Griffin and hype him up even more, but for 68 percent of the online voters, Griffin was the slam dunk king.  However you see it, one thing is for certain.  It was downright entertaining.