Josh Smith captures dunk contest on All-Star Saturday
Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Atlanta Hawks rookie Josh Smith captured the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night, using thunderous dunks and a tribute to a franchise great in the process.
Smith foiled Phoenix’s chances at a sweep of NBA All-Star Saturday. Suns guard Quentin Richardson won the Three-point Shootout, point guard Steve Nash captured the Skills Challenge and a team from Phoenix won the Shooting Stars Competition.
Smith, 19, opened his dunks with a take off from just inside the foul line to earn 9s across the board from the judges that consisted of five former ABA and NBA players.
He followed that up with a perfect 50 prop-dunk. Denver’s Kenyon Martin sat in a chair in the middle of the lane and tossed the ball straight into the air for Smith, who got a running start, jumped over Martin and dunked on the first try.
He was joined in the finals by Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire earned a 45 on his first dunk and followed that up with a perfect 50. On the second dunk, he passed the ball to Nash off the glass. Nash then used some soccer skill and headed the ball back towards the rim, where Stoudemire slammed it home. It took the duo two tries to get it right.
For his first finals’ dunk, Smith walked to his place on the floor while taking off his jersey and putting on former Atlanta great Dominique Wilkins’ No. 21. He followed that up with a thunderous windmill dunk to earn a perfect 50.
Stoudemire then attempted a behind-the-back baseline reverse dunk, but it took him a number of tries and he earned a 45.
Smith put the competition away with his third straight perfect dunk, doing a 360, windmill dunk.
Even though the title was out of reach, Stoudemire again used Nash for his final dunk. Again going to soccer background, Nash “rainbowed” the ball to Stoudemire, who grabbed the ball in the air and slammed it home.
A “rainbow” is when a player flicks a ball over his head using one of his feet to roll the ball up his opposite calf and then using that heel to flick over his head.
Needless to say, Nash’s two passes were nearly as impressive as Stoudemire’s dunks.
New Orleans teammates J.R. Smith and Chris Anderson rounded out the dunk competitors. J.R. Smith ended with a total score of 90, while Anderson had 77.
In the three-point shootout, Richardson claimed the crown by accounting for 19 points in the final. He drained his final nine shots to better Philadelphia 76ers sharp-shooter Kyle Korver by one point. The third finalist, defending champion Voshon Leonard of the Denver Nuggets, had 16 points.
In the opening round of the shootout, Leonard led all scorers with 17 points. Richardson and Korver were next with 14 apiece. Those players who didn’t advance included 2001 champion Ray Allen (13) of Seattle, Phoenix’s Joe Johnson (8) and Seattle’s Vladimir Radmanovic (6).
In the Skills Challenge, Nash captured the $25,000 first-place prize with a time of 25.8 seconds in the final. He beat Denver’s Earl Boykins, who recorded a time of 37.6 seconds in the final.
Nash had a first-round time of 32.4 seconds and Boykins a time of 32.6 seconds. Washington’s Gilbert Arenas had the worst time of the four competitors with a time of 51.7 seconds. Seattle’s Luke Ridnour also missed the final with a time of 35.4 seconds.
The Skills Challenge is made up of a skills course that includes various dribbling, shooting and passing obstacles.
To start the night, the Phoenix trio of Shawn Marion, Diana Taurasi and Dan Marerle captured the Shooting Stars Competition. The team made shots from six spots on the floor in just 28 seconds.
The stars competition is made up of NBA, WNBA and former NBA stars. A team from Denver finished second 16 seconds behind and Detroit ended third with a time of 1 minute, 18 seconds. The Lakers team of Luke Walton, Magic Johnson and Lisa Leslie finished last.