NBA All-Star Weekend 2011: Blake Griffin tops JaVale McGee in slam-dunk contest; John Wall fourth in Skills Challenge
Sunday, February 20, 2011; 1:22 AM
LOS ANGELES - He will go down in the NBA slam dunk contest annals as the first to ever dunk off two rims and with three basketballs, but JaVale McGee did not leave Staples Center as the Washington Wizards' first slam dunk champion. McGee knew that he was at a decided disadvantage, with the contest billed as the coronation for Los Angeles Clippers rookie all-star forward Blake Griffin, the ESPN "Sports Center" highlight staple and hometown favorite.
And no matter how difficult or athletically challenging his dunks were, McGee knew that he had no chance of winning the competition once Griffin wowed the crowd - and fans texting in votes from around the globe - by having Baron Davis pull a Kia Optima beneath the rim and toss the ball from inside the sunroof, all while the Crenshaw Elite Choir sang the R. Kelly hit "I Believe I Can Fly." Griffin dunked the ball with two hands and a rattled McGee was left to concede victory.
"You bring a car out, you're going to win any dunk contest," McGee said. "It was a lot of hype, but it was worth it. It was smart by his part and definitely worth it. Nothing is going to beat a car unless I bring a plane out or something."
McGee opened the competition by getting a perfect score of 50 on his first dunk. McGee brought out a second basket and although he needed almost the entire two minutes allotted to successfully complete an attempt, he was able to throw the ball off one backboard with his right hand, dunk with his left hand, then catch the ball and dunk on the second basket with his right. He came up with the dunk only two days before while practicing with television analyst Chris Webber, a former Wizards star.
He also brought out teammate John Wall for his second dunk, but he also enlisted his mother, former WNBA and Olympic star Pam McGee, who came down the aisle wearing her Los Angeles Sparks warmup, surrounded by men dressed as Secret Service officers, carrying a box that held a red, white and blue basketball. McGee dunked two balls, then caught the red, white and blue ball on a lob from Wall and dunked it before coming down. He received a score of 49 to advance to the second round.
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan finished third and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka came in last.
"I knew Blake Griffin was the crowd favorite," McGee said. "I just wanted to make sure I came out hard and the most creative I could be. Definitely come out with something nobody had ever seen before. I felt like I had to hold it down for the whole city of D.C."
Wall finished fourth in the Skills Challenge, behind champion Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Chicago's Derrick Rose. He had a time of 39.3 through the obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting, but he avoided a last-place finish because Chris Paul - the only participant who wasn't selected by a fan vote - missed his opening layup and stumbled to finish in 42.7 seconds.
Wall was afraid that the bounce pass through a cylinder, not the jumper, was going to cause him the most trouble. When he practiced on the course before the event, Wall didn't have any problems with anything, finishing in 32 seconds.
But in the event, Wall struggled with the chest pass, needing two attempts, and the outlet pass, which required three attempts. "I got the toughest pass out the way, the other two I messed up on," Wall said. "I don't know how I missed the first chest pass. That's the one that really messed me up, the chest pass. That was the toughest one. I thought the bounce pass was the toughest. I got that on the first try. Even if I had got one of the passes, I would've been all right."
With each mistake, the clock kept ticking and Wall grew more antsy. "Every time you miss, you looking at the clock thinking what time it is, can I make it. That's the toughest part about it, but it was still fun. I did good."
Wall didn't complain with how his weekend turned out, since he will leave Los Angeles with an MVP trophy after breaking Paul's record with 22 assists in the Rookie Challenge on Friday. He also got to spend some time with family and friends. Though he didn't win the Skills Challenge, Wall was honored to be around some of the most talented young point guards.
"It was great, we all competitive people, but we just going out there to have fun, thanking all the fans for their support. These are all the best point guards in the league. I'm trying to get myself to that kind of status."