The take away by most is that it was one of the most entertaining NBA All-Star weekends in a while, and JaVale McGee helped anchor it with his performance in the dunk contest on Saturday night. But just as some people are entertained by reality television that’s actually scripted, the show put forth by the NBA can follow the same narrative. Was Blake Griffin really ever going to lose the contest in Los Angeles? Maybe … if Griffin had failed to complete a dunk within the allotted time when it counted. But that wasn’t going to happen. The city of LA, the fan vote on the final and the made-for-SportsCenter player all but predetermined the deal, according to McGee’s teammate Rashard Lewis. There was no topping Griffin jumping over a car, an “officially sponsored by the NBA car,” with a choir in the background, the hype-man efforts of Kenny Smith bringing it all together, and the icing on the cake if you ask Nick Young, LA Clipper teammate Baron Davis popping out the sun roof to throw Griffin the oop.
What about Serge Ibaka’s role? His dunk where he grabbed a stuffed animal hanging from the rim with his teeth before dunking was very similar to a dunk McGee had in mind. McGee originally displayed a maneuver where he grabbed a piece of paper from the net before dunking; the video of him doing so after practice went viral back on January 6, perhaps an unfortunate consequence. Still, there’s no way to know the inception of Ibaka’s creation. McGee said that his version for the dunk contest involved grabbing a judge’s scorecard and showing it to everyone afterward. After Ibaka’s similar attempt (or, “exact same dunk” as JaVale says it), McGee was forced to move the three-ball dunk he was saving for the final higher in the program. Using that dunk as a last attempt might have kept him in the conversation, but again, with Griffin winning 65-percent of the fan vote in the end, it’s highly unlikely.
According to Flip Saunders, McGee would’ve had to pull of a 720-degree dunk from the free-throw line to top the pomp and circumstance surrounding Griffin. However, the Wizards coach also admitted that McGee probably should have won the contest because likely no one else could replicate two of his dunks — the two-ball, side-by-side basket dunk and the three-ball dunk (with help from John Wall). Also to note, as I’ve readily reminded people, some dude named Marko Milic has dunked over a car before … Griffin’s version was special, but not that special.
Whatever the case, it was a positive experience for JaVale … to succeed under big stage expose and through pressure that even had Nick Young nervous. Another take-away is watch out for McGee next year when the festivities will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. The contest could be his to lose.
Below, McGee, Saunders, Young and Rashard Lewis react to the contest:
[music via Kev Brown]