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Fans vote Blazers' Fernandez into Sprite Slam Dunk contest

By Official Release
Posted Jan 19 2009 3:36PM

NEW YORK -- Portland Trail Blazer rookie Rudy Fernandez, a native of Spain, will become the first international player to participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk competition to be held during NBA All-Star Saturday Night Feb. 14, at US Airways Center (8 p.m. ET on TNT) in Phoenix, the NBA announced today. Fernandez was selected as the fourth and final participant exclusively through an online vote on, marking the first time fans have had a say in choosing a competitor for the Dunk contest.

Player (Team) Position Height/Weight
Rudy Fernandez (Portland) G 6-6/185
Rudy Gay (Memphis) F 6-8/222
Dwight Howard (Orlando)* C 6-11/265
Nate Robinson (New York) G 5-9/180
* - 2008 winner

More than 500,000 total votes were cast on to determine one of this year's dunkers as part of Sprite's "They Dunk. You Decide" campaign. Fernandez received 251,868 votes, beating out fellow rookies Russell Westbrook (147,279) of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Joe Alexander (114,963) of the Milwaukee Bucks. Fernandez, who is among rookie leaders in scoring, assists, steals, three-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage, will compete against the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard, the reigning Sprite Slam Dunk champion, the Memphis Grizzlies' Rudy Gay, who participated in last year's contest, and the New York Knicks' Nate Robinson, winner of the 2006 contest in Houston.

Beginning today and running through the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk contest on Feb. 14, the four participants will appear in a new series of videos previewing what they have in store for the competition and urging fans to vote for them. The videos will be available for fans to watch on various sites including, YouTube, Facebook, and Yahoo! Sports. A series of videos featuring the three rookies eligible for the fourth participant vote garnered more than 2 million views across the same online sites over the course of the three week campaign.

For the second straight year, fans will have the final say in deciding the winner of the competition. Following the concluding round of dunks, fans will be able to cast their votes via SMS TXT message and at to determine this year's winner. The dunker with the most fan votes will be named the winner of the Sprite Slam Dunk.

Sprite Slam Dunk Year-by-Year winners
Year Player (Team)
1984 Larry Nance (Phoenix)
1985 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta)
1986 Spud Webb (Atlanta)
1987 Michael Jordan (Chicago)
1988 Michael Jordan (Chicago)
1989 Kenny Walker (New York)
1990 Dominique Wilkins (Atlanta)
1991 Dee Brown (Boston)
1992 Cedric Ceballos (Phoenix)
1993 Harold Miner (Miami)
1994 Isaiah Rider (Minnesota)
1995 Harold Miner (Miami)
1996 Brent Barry (L.A. Clippers)
1997 Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers)
2000 Vince Carter (Toronto)
2001 Desmond Mason (Seattle)
2002 Jason Richardson (Golden State)
2003 Jason Richardson (Golden State)
2004 Fred Jones (Indiana)
2005 Josh Smith (Atlanta)
2006 Nate Robinson (New York)
2007 Gerald Green (Boston)
2008 Dwight Howard (Orlando)

The two dunkers with the highest first round scores will advance to the final round. The dunker with the lowest total score from the first round will compete first in the final round. Dunks then will alternate until each player has completed two. Time limit rules still apply. In the final round, fan voting polls will open via SMS TXT message and at The combined results from SMS TXT voting and will determine the champion.

The Sprite Slam Dunk is part of NBA All-Star 2009, which also includes the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam; Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout; PlayStation® Skills Challenge; Haier Shooting Stars; NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas; and the 58th NBA All-Star Game.

Sprite is the world's leading lemon-lime soft drink and has been the official soft drink of the NBA since 1994.

About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 450 sparkling and still brands. Along with Coca-Cola®, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company's portfolio includes 12 other billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke®, Fanta®, Sprite®, Coca-Cola Zero®, vitaminwater, POWERade®, Minute Maid® and Georgia® Coffee. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate of 1.5 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our Web site at

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