All-Star Saturday will best be remembered for the doings of Golden State's Jason Richardson -- especially his act of bouncing the ball off Cleveland's Carlos Boozer's forehead and then catching it and shooting a three-pointer that capped the Sophomore team's 132-112 victory over the Rookie team in the Rookie Challenge.
"He was just trying to get the crowd riled up, but he has no class. You don't do that," Boozer said.
Told that Boozer was offended, Richardson, who had a game-high 31 points, said he intended no disrespect to the Cavaliers' rookie.
"Fans like stuff like that -- a little streetball," Richardson said.
The second-year Warriors guard then became the first repeat winner of the dunk contest since Michael Jordan did it 15 years earlier.
Richardson finished things off with a spectacular dunk, coming in along the baseline, catching his lob pass, putting the ball between his legs and switching it from his right hand to his left before slamming it through. He raised his arms in triumph as Jordan, one of five judges, gave him a perfect score of 10. The other judges gave him the same score, giving Richardson perfect scores of 50 on three of his four dunks in the contest.
"Fans come out to see some spectacular plays," Richardson said. "When I got in the game, I tried to give them some."
In the Rookie Challenge, with the clock winding down and the game in hand, Richardson dribbled leisurely outside the three-point arc before a quick flip off Boozer's head. As if playing with a yo-yo, the ball bounced straight back to Richardson, who swished the shot for the game's final points.
"It was no different than Jay Williams putting the ball between my legs," Richardson said. "It's not an NBA move, but it's streetball. It's no different than me doing a crossover on Carlos and putting him on the ground. He'd still be embarrassed.
"Carlos came up and said kiddingly: 'Why'd you do me like that?' I told him it was nothing personal, but I guess he sees it differently."
Peja Stojakovic of Sacramento also was a repeat winner, taking the three-point shootout for the second straight year by defeating the same player he beat in the final round of last year's shootout, Wesley Person. The big difference this time was that Stojakovic was awarded a do-over in the final round after a buzzer inadvertently went off as he was midway through shooting his five racks of balls.
Also, Jason Kidd of New Jersey won a new event, a sort of obstacle course involving dribbling, passing and shooting called the Skills Challenge.
Left a Little Flat
Yao Ming's first all-star experience just keeps getting weirder.
Yao, who was a bit overwhelmed by the attention paid to him Friday during his first all-star appearance, was on his way to watch the rookie game Saturday when the hotel van in which he was riding got a flat tire about a mile and a half from the arena.
"He was all ready to walk the rest of the way," Houston Rockets spokesman Nelson Luis said. That is, until security vetoed the idea and flagged down a bus that was on its way to the arena.
The NBA and the players association agreed Saturday to change the rules that govern international player eligibility for the NBA draft, putting them on equal footing with their American counterparts.
The decision clears the way for Yugoslavian Darko Milicic to enter this year's draft; he is expected to be one of the top players chosen. The 7-1 center had been ruled ineligible because he does not turn 18 before May 12, the deadline for filing for the NBA draft. Milicic will turn 18 on June 20, five days before the draft. The two parties have agreed to change the rule so all players who turn 18 within the calendar year are eligible for that year's draft.