NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by America Online (9 p.m. ET, TNT)
Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk Preview
Feb. 18, 2005 - Maybe it's the thin air in Denver, but there's just something about this city and its love affair with dunk contests. The Mile High City -- site of the original ABA dunk contest in 1976 and the first-ever NBA dunk contest in 1984 -- will host the 2005 edition as part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by America Online.
Earlier this week, David "Skywalker" Thompson, a participant in the 1976 ABA contest, gave his thoughts on this year's Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk field: "They have a lot of young players and I donít think there is a clear-cut favorite, unless LeBron decides to enter. Iíve seen Josh Smith and J.R. Smith this season throw down some great dunks. Those guys can really leap."
On Friday, NBA.com caught up with the young aerial acrobats, trying to get the lowdown on the high-flyers.
CHRIS ANDERSEN, New Orleans Hornets
Q: When was the first time you dunked?
Andersen: Ninth grade. It took me half-court to run up there and get it. I got it, so after that it became uphill after there. After I did that first one, I wanted to do it even higher and even more. It just made my adrenaline go sky high and thatís how I jump.
Q: Is the dunk the best way to poster-ize somebody?
Q: What did you learn last year that will help you this year?
Q: When did you decide that you were going to try the dunk contest again?
Q: Do you have any special dunks youíve been working on?
Q: Whoís your biggest competition this year?
Q: Who are you most excited to see?
J.R. SMITH, New Orleans Hornets
Q: How would the dunk contest change if LeBron James is in it?
Smith: Itís a drastic change because I think everybody would have to rethink their game plans because everybody knows he has the most hops in the NBA right now. So, everybodyís going to have to change what theyíre going to do and try to come up with something bigger.
Q: Have you ever been in a dunk contest?
Q: Do you have any dunks that youíre going to do or are you going to wait to see what everybody else is doing?
Q: Who were some dunkers you looked up to?
Q: What were some of the dunks they did that stood out in your mind?
JOSH SMITH, Atlanta Hawks
Q: Any predictions for tomorrow?
Smith: Getting the win.
Q: A lot of people are saying whenever you develop a jumpshot, your game is going to take off. Have you been working on your shot?
AMARE STOUDEMIRE, Phoenix Suns
Q: With so many dunks that have already been done, are you going to do something unique or are you going to do a version of what you have seen?
Stoudemire: A little bit of both. Iím going to try to mix it up a little bit. But itís going to be exciting.
Q: How physically challenging is it? Are you tired at the end?
Q: What did you learn from the first time?
Q: Do you wish you had a shot at LeBron James in the dunk contest?
Q: How much thought do you put in to the dunks youíll do?
Q: Do you remember when you first dunked?
Q: How tall were you?