NBA All-Star Weekend is here, but what about the Wizards? “The team needs a break,” writes owner Ted Leonsis on his blog. Nowhere does he mention the media (professional or those with day jobs) needing a break. Nor, more importantly, does he mention fans needing a break. So, the players may be getting much needed (but not much deserved) rest, but Wizards fans… they really just get a reprieve from bad basketball. “With the season over in two months..the rest of this season really has nothing to do with this season,” writes @WorldWiEdWard on Twitter. Exactly… so you gotta wonder if this Wizards franchise will have the balls to start making significant adjustments in the second half of the season, predicated on the disastrous first half, to better set themselves up for the future. Who knows. But let’s not take all the fun out of NBA All-Star Weekend 2012, one in which a single Wizard is participating — John Wall in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge as well as in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. To discuss this weekend’s festivities in 3-on-3 fashion, including the Rising Stars Challenge which is tonight at 9 pm, we have TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis), Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and Kyle Weidie (@truth_about_it). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) John Wall (Team Chuck) is at 9-1 odds to win the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge MVP, behind Jeremy Lin (Team Shaq, 5-1), Blake Griffin (Team Shaq, 7-1), and Kyrie Irving (Team Chuck, 17-2). [Full odds listing below.] What are Wall’s real chances (factoring in him becoming miffed at being taken 12th in the Barkley/Shaq draft, or Barkley’s hared of the Wizards)? If not him, who you got?
McGINNIS: Las Vegas bookmakers earned their nickname of “Wise Guys” by having the Wall ranked much higher than he was selected by Barkley or Shaq. Wall was the best player in his 2010 draft class during his rookie season, has a national Reebok shoe campaign featured in Foot Lockers across America, and he is reigning MVP of this Rookie-Sophomore game, but TNT’s lack of coverage around Wall has declared him an afterthought. Wall will play extremely well as his pass-first and fast break game is suited for exhibitions like this one, and he will be fired up more than normal. However, I expect Jeremy Lin or Kyrie Irving to win the MVP. This is what NBA wants and TNT employees will be sure to deliver it for them.
MOBLEY: John Wall didn’t need to be miffed with his snub in the “draft” or motivated by Barkley’s distaste for his team to do well in this game. We know from his record 22 assists in last year’s game, and his dazzling summer exhibition performances from 2011, that he can easily stand head and shoulders above his peers. That being said, my vote is for Ricky Rubio. The Maravich in him will be unleashed.
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.
Note: Rashad Mobley is in Los Angeles for the 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend festivities following the entertaining activities of John Wall and JaVale McGee as they put their great individual talent on display to the world. He covered the Rookie-Sophomore Game, the All-Star practice, and last night, the Skills Competition and the Dunk Contest…
When John Wall set the NBA Rookie-Sophomore game record with 22 assists on Friday night, he gave NBA viewers all over the world a glimpse of his limitless potential. JaVale McGee had that same opportunity on Saturday night and he showed NBA fans some creative dunks that had not been seen in quite some time, and in a couple cases, ever.
First up was Wall and his brief Skills competition appearance. Earlier in the weekend, Wall informed Washington Post writer Michael Lee that he expected the passes to be a problem for him, and that turned out to be a prophetic statement. His initial chest pass rattled in and then back out, and Wall had to run back and try again. After hitting the jumper on his second attempt (where I fully expected him to struggle), Wall then took two attempts to complete the outlet pass. His time of 39.3 seconds in the first round was not good enough to advance — however, it was good enough to beat last place Chris Paul, who finger-rolled and missed a point blank layup. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors ended up defeating Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the final with a time of 28.2 seconds.
Next it was JaVale’s turn to shine, and he seized his moment and then some. For his first round dunk, he aligned two baskets right next to each other, and dunked on them both in with two separate balls. It took him several tries to get it right, but once he did, he was awarded with a perfect score of 50.
There’s sadness to report from the Wizards’ locker room, unfortunately on Valentine’s Day, and it involves Nick Young’s forlorn relationship with the NBA’s annual dunk contest. Upon being passed up by the League for this year’s event in his hometown of Los Angeles in favor of teammate JaVale McGee, Young admitted that he was a little jealous. However, not two weeks ago, Young was alluding that he and McGee had something special planned for the contest being held on NBA All-Star Saturday night on February 19. Now, things have seemingly changed … sadness, and perhaps some hate has entered the realm of Young. Poor guy. Let’s hear it from him:
Believable? Well, Young did learn from the master, Gilbert Arenas … so there’s that.
Marcin Gortat’s head is pretty stoic for the position that it’s in.
This was one of those weird times when some huge official arena flash went off while I was taking a picture … came out kind of cool though.
Before getting weirdly entertained by a white man from Iowa wearing Oakleys, in a January 20 chat on ESPN.com, John Hollinger wrote about Nick Young, when not even specifically asked about Young: Read more »
During last Friday’s Washington Wizards win over New Jersey Nets, Comcast’s Chris Miller had an in-game interview with JaVale McGee’s mother, Pamela. The questions centered around her thoughts on JaVale being selected for the All-Star dunk contest. She talked about how proud she is to see his growth as a basketball player, his love of dunking, and shared a story where JaVale touched the top of backboard in street shoes at his pre-draft workout for Cleveland. Hilarity ensues at the 1:08 mark of video when Pam interrupts her backboard story to yell this to a passerby:
“Hey dude, we’re on TV … We’re on TV dude!”
There’s no video of the funny exchange, only audio while highlights of JaVale are shown, so the identity of the interview interrupter is unknown, but Gheorghe Muresan is sitting in the background. Miller later tries to prod Pam, a former WNBA player and Olympic champion, into revealing if she would be involved in any of McGee’s dunks. She coyly indicated that she would be on-hand for the festivities, but stopped short from officially announcing her participation.
The historical invitation of JaVale McGee, a Washington Wizard, to the 2011 NBA slam dunk contest got the franchise all excited (which in turn got Dan Steinberg all bloggy). You see, this is the first player in Wizards/Bullets franchise history selected to participate in the dunk contest, so there’s little shame in taking the extra, perhaps unnecessary, step of hyping it up, along with showing the player that he has the team’s support. Plus, this franchise, fresh off an 0-17 start on the road this season, needs any good news it can get … and yes, this is good news. But is McGee really the franchise’s first?
On Wednesday night’s television broadcast of the Wizards-Sixers game, the trivia question of the night for the hometown D.C. crew, Comcast’s Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz, was to name the former dunk champions who have played for the Washington franchise (but for other teams when they won) — Michael Jordan and Kenny Walker was the answer. Other dunk contest participants who have played for the franchise (but again, who played for other teams during their participation) include: Rex Chapman, Robert Pack, Jerry Stackhouse, Larry Hughes, DeShawn Stevenson, and of course, Darvin Ham.
Peruse this all-time list from NBA.com, nary a participant from the franchise for the “official” NBA dunk contest that started in 1984. But there was something about Chenier’s contemplative words as he can Buckhantz bantered about their trivia question before the answer was revealed.
“I know Elvin Hayes participated …,” Chenier trailed off.