HOUSTON — Only two contestants out of the field of six advanced to the final round of the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday, and Terrence Ross and Jeremy Evans were the ones who earned their way there to get a shot at this year’s title.
That means we had other capable dunkers who had to have some spectacular stunts prepared in case they were the ones battling it out for that championship trophy in the main event of All-Star Saturday night.
It turns out, there were some pretty good ones left on the shelf.
“I had between the legs from the free throw line [ready], and I was going to try to dunk from the top of the key,” James White said, and did so rather nonchalantly given the athleticism that would be required to pull either of those feats off.
White is a YouTube dunk contest legend, and a veteran champion of these types of events in the past. But he simply didn’t have it in this one, and missed over and over again participating for the first time in the NBA’s slam dunk showcase.
“I usually don’t miss dunks,” he said. “Usually that’s the one thing I do, I make the dunks on the first try. But tonight, they weren’t going down.”
White was clearly having trouble holding onto the ball, and said he tried switching but still couldn’t get enough of a handle to be able to do what he’s become famous for.
“I couldn’t grip the ball at all, man,” he said. “Both basketballs. I tried to switch balls the second dunk, and that basketball didn’t even bounce. So when I was coming out for my approach to go dunk, the ball was going everywhere.”
Kenneth Faried got some good ones to go down, but he too struggled and missed all of his tries during one of his official attempts. His plans for final-round dunks were even more intriguing.
“I was going to go under both legs,” Faried said. “If I made it, I was just going to do basically double under the legs. Then, I was going to jump over the panel of judges.”
Now that would have been impressive. But what was the plan exactly, logistically speaking?
“It was going to be more of them sitting down over the Sprite thing,” he said. “I was going to jump over them, sit down, and drink a Sprite.”
As an added bonus, that one might have gotten him a nice opportunity for a personal sponsorship.
“No, not really that,” Faried said. “I wanted to do it because it was called the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.”
Gerald Green also struggled to complete a dunk attempt, but the one he was trying was by far the most adventurous of the bunch. He opened things up by cutting down the net, before trying multiple times to throw it down with one hand, then catch the ball as it came through the hoop with the other hand and dunk it again while still in midair.
He actually did pull it off, but after his time allotment had run out and all of his official attempts had been exhausted.
While Green did not ultimately advance, his plan for what he had ready was among the most inventive.
“I was going to do a dunk where I involved Paul George and Lance Stephenson,” Green said. “It was going to be something like the halftime show, but without the trampoline.”
I needed some clarification.
“It was going to be to where, Lance was going to throw Paul an alley-oop off the glass, Paul was going to catch it, jump pretty high and throw it, and then I come out of nowhere and put it between my legs [before dunking].”
Ah, now it made sense.
Green was asked why he kept trying a dunk with such a high degree of difficulty with his time running out, and after already missing it so many times. He had no regrets with the way he chose to play things out.
“I wanted to try something that was really hard,” Green said. “That’s always been me. Even with the dunk my second year when it was in New Orleans, when I dunked without my shoes on, I didn’t really get a good score. But dunking with no shoes on is very difficult, so I wanted to try something that was just as difficult. That’s how I grew up watching dunk contests.”