LOS ANGELES -- After all the rim-rattling years, all the high-flying legends and all the preposterous stunts that had proceeded him, Blake Griffin figured the only thing left was for the Sprite Slam Dunk Championship to add a little horse-power.
So he dunked over a car. Talk about your four on the floor.
Griffin had jaws dropping in every corner of Staples Center when he launched himself over the hood of a shiny new silver Kia, caught a pass from L.A. Clippers teammate Baron Davis and jammed it home to beat out the Wizards' Javale McGee to claim the 2011 slam dunk crown.
"It was actually my idea to use the car," said Griffin. "When they first came to me with the dunk contest idea, they said there were no rules. I was like, 'So I can jump over a car?' Kind of playing around.
"They were like, 'Yeah. And I thought 'Oh, maybe I have to do it now.' "
Griffin's elaborate stunt on his final dunk of the night was enough to earn him 68 percent of the world wide fan voting via text message and eclipsed a consistently spectacular effort by McGee just because of its sheer audacity.
"He came prepared with the car," McGee said, "and nothing's going to beat the car unless I bring out a plane or something."
With four players -- DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, McGee and Griffin -- competing in the two-round, two-dunks-per-round competition -- the hometown L.A. favorite who has been a rookie sensation for the Clippers played the crowd and built the evening to a crescendo.
DeRozan and Ibaka were eliminated in the first round, which was scored by the blue ribbon panel of Clyde Drexler, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Brent Barry and Julius Erving. DeRozan earned one of only two perfect 50 scores when he lobbed a high pass to himself, caught it on a bounce, scooped the ball with his right hand, cupped it and whipped it through the hoop. Ibaka's highlight was snatching a stuffed animal off the rim with his teeth while slamming home a one-hander.
However, McGee and Griffin were clearly a notch above the field and it was McGee who made the best early impression. He scored a 50 on his first dunk of the contest by dunking two different balls through two side-by-side baskets. Then he came back in the second round and upped the ante with a triple. McGee dunked a ball from each hand and then caught a third one -- tossed up by his Washington teammate John Wall -- to get a 49 and was the leader going into the final round.
"All of us definitely came prepared," McGee said. "We came with props and everything. We all came for entertainment because we definitely didn't want to be another disappointment for the slam dunk contest like the year before was."
Griffin came into the event as the slam dunking banner carrier of the 2010-11 NBA season. Since shaking the backboard with a slam dunk for his first official basket as a pro back in October, the Clippers forward has established himself as the favorite for the Rookie of the Year Award with his array of mind-boggling dunks that have made him a sensation on YouTube and SportsCenter.
If it is possible to feel pressure in a made-for-TV exhibition event, Griffin carried it into All-Star Saturday Night.
"A little bit," he said. "You hear a lot of stuff building up to it, so I think that's the toughest thing and we were all talking about it before the contest. Everybody wants us to do these things that are impossible. People are like: 'Do it between your legs twice.' Obviously I can't do that."
What Griffin did do was give his coaches, Clippers management and likely their insurance underwriters heart palpitations when word began leaking out that he was going to jump over a car.
"When we were still on our road trip, [coach Vinny Del Negro] called me into his room and said, 'So what are you going to do in the dunk contest?' He already knew what I was going to do, so I just played dumb.
"I noticed when I went for my rehearsal on Thursday night, everybody from the Clippers was there. All our upper management and then I realized everybody is kind of nervous about this. So I jumped over it and I kind of looked at them and they were like, 'OK, you can do it.' "
When it came down to the time to actually do it on Saturday night, it was part-Broadway production and part dunk. With his dunk coach Kenny Smith working the crowd, the 2012 Kia was rolled out and placed in the lane. Then Griffin was joined by the Crenshaw Elite Choir to sing gospel music. Then the sun roof on the car opened and up popped a smiling Davis.
With the choir singing and the crowd on its feet, Griffin took off from midcourt, hurled himself over the hood, caught the toss from Davis, hammered home the dunk and swung on the rim.
Griffin said he'd as a kid watched Vince Carter won the 2000 dunk contest and immediately went into the backyard and tried dunking over his bike on an 8-foot rim. More than a decade later, he was the real thing, taking the event to a new level. Which left only the question of whether he's ready to come back next year and repeat.
"I knew you were going to ask that," Griffin said. "We'll see. I have to come up with something else, maybe a boat next year."
-- Fran Blinebury
2010: High-flying Nate becomes first three-time Slam Dunk champ
Nate Robinson defended his title in Dallas to become the first-ever three-time Sprite Slam Dunk champion by defeating Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan in the finals. Robinson sealed the win on his final dunk, scooping the ball off the backboard, spinning and putting it through with two hands, backwards.
2009: Krypto-Nate leaps over Superman to claim Dunk title
New York's Nate Robinson soared over defending champ Dwight Howard of Orlando -- literally and figuratively -- in winning a dramatic contest in Phoenix. Robinson donned a cape and the Knicks' St. Patrick's Day green uniform and vaulted over Howard in one of the most memorable dunks in the event's long history.
2008: Howard flies like Superman to win Dunk crown
Dwight Howard scored a perfect 100 in the first round, then broke out a Superman cape to beat defending champion Gerald Green in the final round to win his first Slam Dunk crown.
2007: Celtic's Green notches perfect 50 dunk
Boston's Gerald Green leapt past Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard and Chicago's Tyrus Thomas in the first round, then held off Robinson in the finals to win the event in Las Vegas.
2006: Robinson gets help from Spud to win Sprite Slam Dunk title
Knicks rookie Nate Robinson outlasted Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala in a dunk-off 47-46 to become the Sprite Slam Dunk champion. The 5-9 Robinson's only 50-point dunk was on a bounce pass from Spud Webb, the 1986 champion and the only other sub-6-foot winner in Slam Dunk history.
2010 -- Nate Robinson, New York
2009 -- Nate Robinson, New York
2008 -- Dwight Howard, Orlando
2007 -- Gerald Green, Boston
2006 -- Nate Robinson, New York
2005 -- Josh Smith, Atlanta
2004 -- Fred Jones, Indiana
2003 -- Jason Richardson, Golden State
2002 -- Jason Richardson, Golden State
2001 -- Desmond Mason, Seattle
2000 -- Vince Carter, Toronto
1997 -- Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
1996 -- Brent Barry, L.A. Clippers
1995 -- Harold Miner, Miami
1994 -- Isaiah Rider, Minnesota
1993 -- Harold Miner, Miami
1992 -- Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix
1991 -- Dee Brown, Boston
1990 -- Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
1989 -- Kenny Walker, New York
1988 -- Michael Jordan, Chicago
1987 -- Michael Jordan, Chicago
1986 -- Spud Webb, Atlanta
1985 -- Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
1984 -- Larry Nance, Phoenix