Thoughts on All-Star Saturday Night

Saturday, February 19, 2011
By Jon Newberry

Another NBA All-Star Saturday Night is in the books and there was plenty of action.

Rather than beat around the bush I am going to start off with my thoughts on the main event: the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

There was even more hype than usual leading up to this year’s event thanks to Blake Griffin and his seemingly endless stream of highlights from the first half of the season. The flow of the contest was a little uneven, but don’t let that take away from the fact that the level of successfully completed dunks was phenomenal.

Here is the thing… I am of the opinion that a dunk is much more impressive if it is completed on its first attempt. That being said, let me take you through my favorite three dunks of the night:

1- DeMar DeRozan’s second round dunk was my favorite.
The crowd erupted. The players liked it. It was a bit different than any dunks from previous contests.

2- JaVale McGee’s first round dunk with two balls and two baskets.
The level of difficulty and originality was off the charts. Even though it took him a few tries the crowd went crazy when he got them both down.

3- Blake Griffin’s first round 360.
It was a 360 and I am not sure if it was that different than other 360’s that have been done before… except that it looked like he could have done a 540 (one more half rotation). He threw it down with authority and showcased all of his explosiveness.

Yes, that means that the dunk over the car didn’t make the top-3. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome, but I wanted to see him fly over the roof and not the hood.

Other comments on specific dunks:
Ibaka Stuffed Animal: Had to be done on the first try.
DeRozan 1st dunk: Scores from judges were a little low. It is tough going first.
McGee 3-Ball: Good, but not a 49.
Griffin Arm through Rim: I think the crowd was expecting more. Blake was visibly frustrated with the lack of response from the crowd. I don’t think most people view that as much harder than Vince Carter’s original hanging by the elbow.

Okay, honestly, I could analyze and critique each dunk in much more detail (and I am sure you will see/read all of that elsewhere on TV and the web), but there was more that went down tonight.

James Jones pulled off a major upset in the 3-point competition, topping Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the finals. I guess playing alongside the Wade/LeBron/Bosh triumvirate makes you immune to being starstruck.

Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook may have given us a preview of the future of elite guards in the West during the Taco Bell Skills Competition. This year the players seemed to take it more seriously. None of them coasted through and it was reflected in the times.

Finally, let’s hear it for Team Atlanta, winners of the Haier Shooting Stars Competition. Horford came up big (as usual), hitting the halfcourt shot in both rounds. He also was 4-of-5 from his other shots.

Also worth noting, the musical acts and celebrity appearances were all outstanding.

I can’t wait to see what is next tomorrow night.