NBA All-Star Saturday Wrap-Up
Haier Shooting Stars
Team Atlanta entered this year’s competition attempting to become the first repeat Haier Shooting Stars champion but suffered a major blow before All-Star weekend began as shooting guard Joe Johnson had to bow out due to injury.
Veteran guard Jerry Stackhouse filled in admirably for Johnson but Team Atlanta failed to advance the championship round.
So did the host squad – Team Orlando.
Team New York and Team Texas went head-to-head for 2012 supremacy.
In the finals, Team New York took home the championship hardware after former New York Knick great Allan Houston drilled the halfcourt shot at the thirty-seven mark with plenty of time to spare.
“You just go out there and try and prepare and fortunately everyone hit their shots,” Houston said after leading Team New York to the title.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
As usual the field of competition in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge was stiff with Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and John Wall all participating.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the 2011 Skills Challenge champion, pulled out due to injury.
In the first round, Williams and Parker were the only players to finish the course in less than thirty seconds. (Rondo finished sub 30 seconds in the tiebreaker).
Surprisingly before the event began Williams joked about being the slowest guy in the competition.
“I’m the slowest guy out here,” Williams told TNT in an interview. “All of these guys are quicker than me.”
Wall and Rondo faced off in a special tiebreaker to determine who would advance to the title round after both finished with 32.8 seconds in their initial run.
With the pressure on, Rondo emerged victorious going flawless throughout the course.
But in the end it was Parker who hoisted the trophy in his third appearance in the event.
Parker made only one bounce pass during his entire journey for the title.
Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
Last year Miami HEAT forward James Jones beat out the Hall of Fame bound Ray Allen and Paul Piece to etch his name into All-Star weekend lore.
In 2012, Jones roared to a first round best with 22 points, hitting his last seven shot attempts.
Jones was joined in the final round by Minnesota’s Kevin Love and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.
Durant was able to find a little redemption after finishing dead last in the event last season by posting 20 points in the first round.
Love’s march to the final round saw him besting Miami HEAT guard Mario Chalmers in a tiebreaker after both posted 18 points in their initial run.
In the final round Jones got off to a horrendous start and wasn’t able to recover, while Love and Durant locked up and produced another tiebreaker to determine the 2012 champion.
Durant almost completed a worst to first redemption quest but missed four of his five money balls in the tiebreak round as Love celebrated and took home the championship crown.
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
The Slam Dunk field of competition lacked the star power of years past with Derrick Williams, Chase Budinger, Jeremy Evans and Paul George vying for the throne.
All four were participating in their first dunk contest.
Another first for the event was the introduction of a single round format with each participant granted three dunks. The winner of this year’s event was chosen strictly by the fans.
Budinger started the show with a very strong and well played reference to the film “White Men Can’t Jump” reprising Woody Harrelson’s famed role of Billy Hoyle by jumping over music mogul Sean “P-Diddy” Combs in the painted area. Credit must be given to Combs for executing a near perfect alley to the leaping Budinger.
Next up was Evans who threw down a reverse dunk off of a self-lob intended to let the viewers at home see what he sees as he slams. Evans’ attempt didn’t come off as planned.
George dunked over his Pacers teammate Roy Hibbert, who stands at 7’2, in the lane with a thunderous one hand slam.
Finishing up the first set of dunks was Williams who pulled off a windmill jam while jumping over a parked motorcycle in the paint.
Budinger started round off the second round with a similar dunk to Williams’ first, minus the motorcycle.
Evans found redemption, after an uninspiring first round, by dunking two basketballs after an alley from a seated Gordon Hayward, his Jazz teammate. This was hands down the dunk of the night.
In another show of creativity George had all of the lights in the arena turned off to reveal his glow in the dark Pacers uniform. George connected on a very solid 360 dunk which drew cheers from the crowd.
Williams also impressed on his second dunk attempt by rocking the rim on an off the side of backboard dish from T’Wolves teammate Ricky Rubio for a two handed 360 jam. This dunk was similar to the one 2011 champion Blake Griffin attempted, but couldn’t pull off. Credit to Williams for getting it done in style.
Former dunk champion Cedric Ceballos came out to support Budinger on his third attempt, a blindfolded reverse two handed slam with the crowd instructing Budinger on when to “jump” for the attempt since he was blindfolded.
Comedian Kevin Hart, playing a mailman, delivered a Karl Malone Utah Jazz jersey to Evans before his third attempt. Evans pulled the tribute dunk off, the Malone pose, just inside the paint over a standing Hart.
George paid tribute to the legendary Larry Bird by placing a sticker of the legend’s face on the backboard before throwing down a slam from the baseline.
Winner of the 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
After three million votes were cast by fans worldwide, the winner was Jeremy Evans with 29 percent of the vote. Evans became the first player in Jazz history to win the event.