PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 9 (Ticker) -- With one last spectacular jam, Jason
Richardson finished off the best day of his basketball life.
Highlights from the 2002 Slam Dunk Contest:|
J-Rich was money with his rendition of 'Nique's windmill.
Garrett W. Ellwood
Richardson's acrobatic finishing flush edged fellow rookie Gerald Wallace
and gave him the title of NBA's best dunker.
Richardson began the day by scoring 26 points and winning MVP honors in The 'got milk?' Rookie Challenge. Afterward, he said he still had
some energy left for the NBA.com Slam Dunk Presented by RealOne. He didn't need much.
"It's a busy day," Richardson said. "Some of the goals I had in
mind going into the weekend, I was trying to approach it as a
business-like trip, but I still had a lot of fun."
The competition was reduced to four entrants, with dunkers allowed to receive passes from
teammates on some dunks and having to spin a "wheel of fortune"
that had them imitate great dunkers of the past on others.
Between the new rules, overanalysis, interviews after every dunk
and several misses, there was not much to ooh and aah about --
until Richardson's final dunk, which gave him an 85-80 win.
Beginning from the perimeter, Richardson tossed the ball into
the air, raced toward the basket, leaped and caught the ball
after it had bounced. He turned away from the rim and threw
down a two-handed hammer windmill, completing a difficult dunk
"It was only my second time doing that dunk, and I think it came
out pretty good," he said.
The winning dunk came after Richardson tried a between-the-legs
jam and botched it. However, he never tried to dunk it and was
awarded another attempt.
"They tried to say it was an attempt, but it wasn't because it
didn't go towards the basket," Richardson said.
Richardson received 49 points -- one shy of a perfect score --
from the five-judge panel that included former dunking deacons
Darryl Dawkins and Julius Erving, TV analyst Kenny Smith, former
scoring champion George Gervin and an online fan vote.
"It's a great feeling, winning a contest in front of a legend
like (Erving)," Richardson said.
Richardson advanced by dethroning defending champion Desmond
Mason of the Seattle Sonics, 98-84. After spinning the
wheel, he virtually mirrored a classic dunk by Dominique Wilkins
and received a perfect score of 50.
Wallace, a 19-year-old swingman for the Sacramento Kings,
eliminated Steve Francis of the Houston Rockets, 84-77. Wallace
missed a pair of dunks, replacing one, and Francis missed one
while looking very unimaginative.
Wallace built his lead in the final round by dunking from just
inside the foul line and attempting a Carteresque arm-in-the-rim
job. On Richardson's first dunk in the final round, he took off
from well inside the foul line and almost didn't make it.
Jason Richardson def. Desmond Mason, 98-84
Gerald Wallace def. Steve Francis, 84-77
Jason Richardson def. Gerald Wallace, 85-80