Blake Griffin Steals Show On All-Star Saturday

February 20, 2011

Los Angeles, CA - The entire nation got a taste of "The Blake Griffin Show" on Saturday, as the phenomenal rookie stood tallest of all - on top of a car in fact - to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at the Staples Center on Saturday night.  In doing so, Griffin defeated an impressive group of contestants who had arguably completed even more difficult dunks than Griffin. 

The group included Toronto Raptor DeMar Derozan, an L.A. native, who completed two incredible dunks, placing the ball between his legs on the first, and powering home a one-hand windmill reverse on the second.  Not to be outdone was Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, who took off from behind the free throw line and caught a children's toy with his teeth on his two successful dunks.

But neither one even made it to the Final Round.

The final round was reserved for Griffin and impressive 7-foot Center JaVale McGee.  McGee qualified for the Final Round with two perfect scores of "50."  McGee's first dunk, where he slammed two balls on two different baskets with each hand, was unarguably the most impressive dunk of the entire event.  The only imaginable person in the world who might have been able to duplicate such a dunk would be Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.

McGee showed off more creativity by dunking an unprecedented 3 basketballs on his second dunk.

For his part, Griffin himself qualified for the final round with a two-handed 360 dunk, and a windmill power throwdown after teammate Baron Davis tossed the ball off the side of the backboard. Both dunks were impressive, but paled in comparison to Griffin's initial attempts on both of his first two dunks.

Griffin's first miss was an attempted 360 two-handed windmill dunk that brought the crowd out of their seats.  After missing the dunk for a second time, Griffin "settled" for the two-handed 360, leaving most of the windmill action out.  On his second dunk, Griffin initially attempted a 360 dunk off the Davis side-of-the backboard pass, but ulimately settled for a one-hand windmill after several failed attempts.

Nonetheless Griffin's popularity with the hometown crowd essentially assured that he would be in the Finals.

Griffin's first dunk of the Final Round was an homage to Vince Carter - with a twist.  After throwing the ball high off the backboard, Griffin threw down a dunk leaving his elbow inside the rim.  McGee's rebuttal jam was a Michael Jordan-like one-hand baseline cradle reverse.  The replays showed McGee impressively ducking under the backboard to complete the dunk.

But all was prelude to the Final Act.

Griffin's final dunk of the night appeared to take the increasingly theatrical nature of the dunk contest to its limit.  Griffin's "dunk coach" Kenny Smith asked handlers to bring out a silver Kia automobile on to the court before introducing the Crenshaw Elite Choir to sing R. Kelley's "I Believe I Can Fly," to encourage the young Clipper to "believe" he could leap over the car.  With Baron Davis tossing a lob through the sunroof of the car, Griffin completed the dunk and swung back on the rim leaving himself standing on top of the car and leaving the crowd in a frenzy.

In truth, the dunk itself was less impressive than the entire production surrounding it.  Nonetheless, one can imagine how Clipper officials must have held their breath fearing an injury to their star rookie.  McGee's one-handed dunk off-the-glass was almost an afterthought at that point as the fans voted Griffin the winner.

Griffin's launch to national stardom truly began early in the season with his mind-blowing highlights and astonishing statistical accomplishments over the first 50 games of the season.  Saturday night's conclusion only magnified the excitement he has created thus far.


The dunk contest was the finale to huge Saturday night for NBA entertainment.  In a surprise, James Jones of the Miami Heat won the Three-Point Contest by defeating Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the Final Round.

Earlier in the morning, the NBA All-Stars had a "practice" that included shooting competitions between the East and West All-Stars.  In a "Guiness World Record" competition, Kevin Durant and Dirk Novitsky alternated to hit 15 three-point shots in a minute to defeat the Celtic duo of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

During the practice, the players appeared relaxed and jovial.  No sign of any personal rivalries could be detected as even Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen could be seen joking around at one point.  Heat and Celtic players also were playfully challenging each other's shots and making small talk.  It is doubtful that such "love" will mean much come playoff time.

While many players on the West team seemed to sleepwalk through much of the practice, the East appeared far more serious.  In fact, Kevin Garnett was sweating profusely throughout, prompting his coach Doc Rivers to comment afterward, "That's what I love about K.G. - the intensity that he always brings."

Amusingly, any time East coach Doc Rivers or one of the Celtics participated in a drill, the L.A. crowd booed loudly, reiterating that NBA All Star Game or not, this was still Laker country.  Nonetheless, Paul Pierce took the booing from the fans in stride, noting "I am sure the fans would boo the Laker players if the game was in Boston."

Doc Rivers, when asked about the prospects of having so many rival Heat players on his team commented, "I like them all...Lebron, Wade, and Bosh..." When asked if he would play all of his Celtics together during the game Rivers responded, "Oh definitely...probably with Chris Bosh as the 5th guy."

While Kobe Bryant and the "Big 3" of the Heat made early exits during the media portion, Clipper Rookie Blake Griffin patiently stayed the full 30 minutes and was constantly swarmed by the media.  A rumor had already been out that Griffin would be using a car in one his dunks, something Griffin would not deny.  Nonetheless when pressed for further details, Griffin smiled and said "I gave a few hints - that's all I'm giving out."

Later that night, we would all find out what Griffin was smiling about.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

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