The NBA said yesterday that the league will not use high school athletes in a slam dunk competition during the NBA Draft on June 30 at MCI Center, despite plans by the Washington Wizards' parent company, Washington Sports and Entertainment, to do so.
The dunk contest was supposed to be part of the in-arena entertainment for fans attending the draft. James White of the Newport School and Bernard Robinson of Dunbar were scheduled to participate in the event.
But Brian McIntyre, NBA senior vice president of communications, said there was a misunderstanding and that high school athletes were not supposed to be included.
"We are not using any high school athletes," McIntyre said. "We've had an in-arena show for a number of years and [the Wizards] didn't quite understand what we were looking for and so they went out and mistakenly contacted some high school kids. That was not the intent of this. We never planned on using high school athletes, and will not use high school athletes."
McIntyre said participating in such an event could affect a high school athlete's eligibility. Recently, NBA Commissioner David Stern has said he favors a minimum age to play in the league as a way to eliminate high school athletes from entering the draft.
Washington Sports and Entertainment spokesman Matt Williams said that although Robinson and White had been contacted to take part in the contest, a final list of contestants had not been approved by the NBA. Williams also said that the specific ages of the competitors was not discussed with the league.
"If they say we can't use high school players, we won't use high school players," Williams said.
Robinson and White were not available to comment last night.
Williams said alternatives to the dunk contest will be discussed today.
Staff writer Steve Wyche contributed to this report.