The Sprite Slam Dunk contest is set for February 19th, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The four participants are Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder, JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards, the Toronto Raptor’s DeMar DeRozan a fill in for the injured Brandon Jennings, and fan favorite Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Here’s a little preview of each contestant throwing it down.
Probably the oddest pick of the four to participate, not much is known of the man from Congo outside of Oklahoma City. He’s probably more known for his blocking and defense than his in game dunking. I much rather have seen the NBA pick Russell Westbrook, Rudy Gay, J.R Smith or even Will Bynum. Who knows Ibaka might surprise all with some creativity, but with the 3 other high flyers in tow I doubt it’ll do him much good. Here’s a video of Ibaka finishing a fast break alley oop with a one handed flush.
Probably the dark horse of the competition, he’s tall, lanky and he’s got some hops but history has shown in this competition that big guys don’t do too well unless they show something special. He’ll have to mix some creativity while showing some hangtime in order to have a chance. Here’s Javale McGee dunking over a frustrated Elton Brand, pay attention to the end of the video where McGee waves goodbye to a dejected Brand.
It would have been interesting to see what Brandon Jennings would’ve brought to the dunk contest but a broken left foot has allowed his replacement DeMar DeRozan another chance at a Slam Dunk title. He participated in the 2010 Sprite Slam Dunk Competition but lost in the final round against little man Nate Robinson. DeRozan has shown us that he can definitely throw it down with the best of them, we’ll see what he can bring to the table come February 19th. Here’s DeRozan with a sick one handed baseline jam over Brad Miller.
Now if you haven’t heard of Blake Griffin you probably live in a country where your President’s name is Kim Jong Il or on a polar ice cap too busy studying the mating trends of emperor penguins. Blake Griffin is the biggest star to arrive in the NBA since Matt Bonner. Ok I’m kidding but you know what I mean. I predict that this slam dunk competition will be the most watched of all time not because of the competition, but because people want to see what Blake Griffin is capable of doing.
I remember watching Vince Carter during the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest and was just in awe at the complexity and explosiveness of his dunks. I recall seeing bits and pieces of his highlight reels on SportsCenter, like that baseline reverse against Chris Mullin, but back then there was no YouTube, so there was room for intrigue and imagination. What I’m afraid of, and what I believe is the downfall of the Slam Dunk Competition, is that we now have the ability to watch, replay, and pause just about anything in a matter of seconds. Plus the fact that it’s getting more and more difficult to invent new dunks unless you’re part of the team flight brothers or involve props like birthday cupcakes. There’s no imagination left but just expectation, we all know and seen what Blake Griffin can do as we’ve seen it night in and night out. People might be expecting Blake to jump from the 3-point line or do a 720, the latter of which I’m sure he can manage, however he might just end of playing it safe and doing the normal routine power slams we’ve seen in previous dunk contests.
What I’ve noticed watching these contests is that there are two types of dunkers, the entertainer and the in game. The only two players I’ve seen that have both qualities are Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, maybe even Shawn Kemp and possibly Jason Richardson and Isaiah Rider during 1 or 2 of their peak years. Blake Griffin could possibly be the next to join that list depending on how creative he is and in the long run how his knee cap holds up. I’m pretty sure Griffin will not disappoint, he can easily score a perfect 10 by doing another what I call a “throw slam” where he dunks the ball without touching the rim. He might just end up playing it safe with basic tomahawks and 360′s. Who knows, who cares, we’ll all be watching it anyway. Enjoy a video of Amare Stoudemire giving Griffin some props after he posterized his teammate Timofey Mozgov in what is easily his most famous slam to date.
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