Dunk You Very Much
Recapping All-Star Weekend’s three dunk contests, with our top 5 overall dunks.
Hitting my first ever NBA All-Star Weekend, there was nothing more I was hyped for than getting to see not one, not two, but yes three dunk contests throughout the weekend. Sure, peeping the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown and D-League Dunk Contest ran me the expense of about half of the rookie game, but it was well worth it in this hoop head’s eyes.
Having watched every NBA Dunk Contest multiple times, I can legitimately say that this was the worst that the League has ever put out. After throwing down my first dunk at age 13 (forget that I was already 6-3 and got the ball about two inches over the rim), I idolized guys like Harold Miner, Isaiah Rider and Dee Brown. But after this last dunk contest, the League seriously needs to rethink their incentive to draw the top dunkers in or open themselves to potentially letting outside dunkers in (perhaps TDub or Guy Dupuy from Team Flight Brothers) in to spice things up a bit. What they did this year just didn’t work, as seen by the fact that the “other two” dunk contest easily trumped the NBA’s.
Here’s a brief rundown of the three dunk contests that we took in, along with the top 5 dunk contest dunks from the weekend:
SPRITE SLAM DUNK SHOWDOWN
When/Where: Friday night, NBA Jam Session Center Court
Contestants: Taurian Fontenette aka “Air Up There” aka “Mr. 720,” Willie “Flyte” Barnes, Los, Young Hollywood
Winner: Air Up There
The verdict: Air Up There shut the gym down with all of his dunks, sending NBA stars in to a frenzy with his ridic bounce. He honestly got NECK LEVEL at the rim on a number of his dunks in warm-ups and narrowly missed his patented 720. Young Hollywood showed off his sick hops in warm-ups, but struggled getting any of his patented dunks down once the bright lights came on. Like Young Hollywood, Los wasn’t able to throw a number of his bigtime dunks down but still came with some nasty stuff. Willie “Flyte” Barnes may have been the best actual player in the event, but his power dunking (check out him destroy the backboard on this reverse dunk) wasn’t enough against guys like AUT.
D-LEAGUE DREAM FACTORY DUNK CONTEST
When/Where: Friday night/NBA Jam Session Center Court
Contestants: Dar Tucker, Tony Danridge, Alonzo Gee, Trey Gilder
Winner: Dar Tucker
The verdict: Having tracked Dar Tucker since high school, I knew he had bounce….but not THAT kind of bounce. Chicago’s finest had his had at the rim on just about every dunk and got the crowd involved the whole time. He was a no brainer to take home the crown with the performance he put on. It was a bit of a disappointing performance from 2009 NCAA Dunk Contest Champ Tony Danridge, who was our favorite to win it all. He rocked a nasty cradle dunk, but didn’t quite live up to the expectations that we had for him coming in. Finalist Alonzo Gee had a couple of solid ones but nothing spectacular. The final contestant, Trey Gilder, may or may not have embarrassed himself with this botched hurdle dunk after about 5 tries where somebody could have seriously got hurt.
SPRITE NBA DUNK CONTEST
When/Where: NBA All Star Saturday/ American Airlines Arena
Contestants: Nate Robinson, Shannon Brown, DeMar DeRozan, Gerald Wallace
Winner: Nate Robinson
The verdict: I’d say put a big * next to Nate’s third slam dunk crown. He did the same dunks that he’s done in every other contest, with minor variations. I’d give him props if the little guy hit us with something new, but it was the same old same old. Shannon Brown was my pick to win it all, but he looked more like 25-year-old Shannon than the kid who gave Bron a run for his money in the 2003 McDonald’s dunk contest in my hometown of Cleveland. DeMar DeRozan had an underrated performance, giving us two of our top 5 dunks from the weekend. Gerald Wallace? Are you serious?
TOP 5 OVERALL DUNKS
1. Dar Tucker’s “slingshot” dunk over 7’0 Brian Butch — In a move that straight up shocked everyone in attendance, Dar (who stands a hair over 6-4 on a good day), called out 7-0 Brian Butch, hurdled him a la Vince/Fredric Weis, and banged a nasty slingshot dunk. If this happened in the NBA dunk contest, it may have went down as one of the better dunks in history. Unfortunately though, it’s the D-League and only about 5,000 people saw it.
2. Air Up There’s 360 between the legs — AUT destroyed a 360 between the legs that almost sent LeBron James out of the arena. Bron literally sprinted past me towards the exit (I’m the guy with the blue shirt courtside at 39 second mark) and was ecstatic about the dunk. Crazy thing is that I’ve seen Air Up There do better, furthering my cause of a “streetball dunker” being allowed to participate in the NBA Dunk Contest.
3. Air Up There’s 360 reverse — (note this is the second dunk in the video) After missing a couple of 720’s, AUT decided to go with something simple (yet unseen by most) with a 360 dunk that he finished with a reverse on the other side of the rim. This dunk alone would have CRUSHED anyone’s in the NBA dunk contest and is considered a “safe” dunk by the Houston native. Sick.
4. DeMar DeRozan’s off the side of the glass windmill — I think this one could quietly go down as one of the more underrated dunks in NBA dunk contest history (although it will NEVER compare to Orlando Woolridge’s between the legs dunk 26 YEARS AGO). Gotta give the youngster his credit, especially since he is a guy that we could see in many a dunk contest over the next 5 years.
5. DeMar DeRozan’s reverse between the legs with two hands — How many guys have we seen do this dunk? Check YouTube, not too many. I don’t understand why nobody gave him any love on this one, but it was still a really nasty dunk in this guy’s opinion.