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Blake Griffin's final dunk of the slam dunk competition was one of the defining moments o f All Star weekend, but it appears that the NBA and Kia had that dunk planned as the finale before the compeititon started. Photo by Jae C. Hong (AP)
Was the slam dunk contest fixed?; The New Jersey Nets pull a fast one in trading for Deron Williams; Sacramento Kings look to move to Anaheim
By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
Questions surrounded the dunk contestToronto Raptor’s DeMar DeRozan (Compton high school) has a couple issues with the slam dunk contest from this past weekend. The first problem is that he felt like he was robbed when he did not receive enough points to make it to the finals. And he also had a problem with the use of props, which the Clippers Brake Griffin used to win the event. A number of people thought that DeRozan should have received more points in the first round of the competition. Reading certain signs, the NBA and/or corporate sponsors may have wanted Griffin in the finals really bad. Griffin was by far the biggest name in the competition, and he is reaching folklore status. The image of him running down the court with the ball brings out all kind of excitement, so there is no question that the league wanted him in the slam dunk finals. There was word that Griffin was doing a photo shoot in front of the Kia that he jumped over earlier in the day on Saturday, before the dunk contest. Kia was one of the major sponsors at All Star weekend. Before the dunk contest even started the stage was already set by the NBA and Kia for Griffin to jump over that car for his final dunk. What better way to close the show? But, what if other contestants out performed Griffin in the first round, knocking him out of the finals? Kia would lose their in game ad spot, and the NBA would lose one of the defining moments of All Star weekend. Is there a conspiracy theory here? Naw, the NBA and Kia wouldn’t need to fix the competition to get their moment. Not with the great Blake Griffin out there. That guy could out dunk Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Web, Harold Miner, Vince Carter, and Kobe Bryant without breaking a sweet. Well… maybe not, and maybe the NBA did make sure he made it to the finals. As for the props, DeRozan is right. Anybody who can dunk a basketball off a lob pass can jump over the hood of a car and dunk it. Find a good high school basketball team and they’ll have a few kids who can do that. Really think about it. The rim isn’t any higher on that dunk. It’s still 10’ high. All the dunker has to do is bend his knees so his feet clear the hood as he’s rising to the rim. Props like a toy attached to the rim or a cup cake on top of it are pretty lame. Some people say that pretty much everything has been done, so props are needed. That’s just not true. Take Vince Carter in the 2000 dunk contest for example. He had one of the greatest dunk contest performances ever. The only original dunk that he did was when he stuck his entire arm in the rim. Carter’s first dunk, the 360-windmill dunk, was one of the most amazing ever, but he just combined existing dunks and added a twist to it. 360s have been done for years, and so have windmills, but he combined the two, and for a twist he reversed the rotation. It was amazing. Much better than jumping over the hood of a car. And what does a choir and a hype man (Steven A. Smith) have to do with a dunk? That just made the contest look like a production. Harold Miner was also amazing in the 1993 dunk contest. He pretty much did every great Dominique Wilkins dunk. But Miner’s power and flare made those dunks some of the best ever as he blew away the competition. So there is no need for props, just put a little thought into the dunks and work on the style that it is performed.The New Jersey Nets pull a fast one in trading for Deron WilliamsThe New York Knicks might have a little buyer’s remorse right now. If they had known that the Utah Jazz were looking to trade All Star point guard Deron Williams, they may have gone after him instead of going through all of the Carmelo Anthony drama. The Knicks greatly improved their team by trading for Anthony, but Williams is a better player at this point. He is considered by many as the best point guard in the league. Having a point guard like Williams to go along with Aram’e Stoudemire would be greater than Anthony pairing with him. But seeing that the Knicks received point guard Chauncey Billups in the trade, they’re fine for now, until Billups decides to leave. As for the Nets, this trade came out of nowhere, and they needed to grab some headlines after being shutout this past summer in landing LeBron James, and then being used by the Denver Nuggets to drive up the price for Anthony. The Nets are not going to make the playoffs this year, but they have a stud to build their team around. They need a marquee player when they move into a brand new arena in Brooklyn. With Williams on board they will be able to attract other big name free agents and turn the franchise around. On the Jazz’s end, there are a lot of question marks about where that franchise is going. Reports say that after Williams and Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Sloan, who had coached the team for 26 years, had a major fight a week ago, team officials had to make a decision, Williams or Sloan. Seeing that Sloan resigned, they must have sided with Williams. But now they trade Williams away. It appears that they did this to avoid Williams holding them hostage a year from now like Anthony did the Nuggets. By trading Williams, they avoiding all of the drama of Williams either leaving for nothing, or the Jazz trying to get something in return.
So where is this franchise going? Their two best players in recent years, Williams and Carlos Boozer, are both gone, and so is Sloan. The Jazz have always been competitive, but the way things look those days might be over. Sacramento Kings looking at Anaheim If the Kings announce that they are moving from Sacramento to Anaheim, don’t expect traffic jams on the Interstate 5 freeway because they’re playing a game. Oh, there will be traffic, but it certainly won’t be because a massive amount of people are driving out to watch that team play. The potential move won’t move the dial at all in Los Angeles. This is a Lakers town, with some Clippers fans here and there. Can the Los Angeles market, which includes Orange County, support three teams? Sure. There are like 13 million people here. If the Kings do get support, it will mostly be from Orange County. The Lakers and Clippers can attempt to block this by claiming territorial rights, but the Lakers might not care enough to do that. The Clippers, on the other hand, will probably have an issue with the move. They have to work for every ticket sale that they can get, and they rely on the Orange County market to support their team. A third team can also cut into the television market. Again, the Lakers probably are not too worried about this, especially with their reported $3 billion television deal with Time Warner. But this may be an issue for the Clippers. Since the Lakers are leaving Fox Sports and KCAL 9, there are television slots open for the Kings.At this point the move really looks like it will happen, unless the city of Sacramento builds the Kings a new arena.
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