Feb. 18, 2005 - In 2001, Ray Allen, then a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, poured in 20 points in the opening round and hit for 19 in the final round on his way to winning his first Shootout title. Allen stumbled the following year and didn't make it out of the first round, but has a shot to claim a second title when he takes part in the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout as part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by America Online.

Allen is joined by SuperSonics' teammate Vladimir Radmanovic; Denver's Voshon Lenard, the defending champion; Phoenix's Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson; and Kyle Korver of the Philadelphis 76ers in the contest.

NBA.com caught up with the long-range bombers on Friday to see who's feeling confident and who has the best shot at winning it all this year.


RAY ALLEN, Seattle SuperSonics

Q: Do you think the three-pointer can ever excite the fans like a big dunk does?
Allen: I think the dunk is out nowadays. Shooters are in nowadays. The dunk used to be the nail-in-the-coffin, used to be the demoralizer back in the early Ď90s, the whole decade. Now, when you see somebody just constantly pounding threes on a team, when you see it coming from me and you see it coming from Vlad (Radmanovic) and you see it coming from Rashard (Lewis), and weíre on the road, you can hear that deafening moan from the arena that the fans are like, ďWeíre about to get killed out here tonight.Ē So the three-point shot is very dangerous and it hurts the opponent.

Q: Would you trade your ability to hit a jumper to be able to jump?
Allen: The only reason I can shoot the ball well is that I work at it. So, I wouldnít trade that skill. Athletic ability is something thatís given. To be able to shoot the ball well, consistently, night in and night out you have to work at it.


JOE JOHNSON, Phoenix Suns

Q: How different do you think it will be to have to take balls off the rack as opposed to Nash passing to you?
Johnson: It's not as easy as it may look, it's kinda difficult, but I tell you, I think I can manage.

Q: How much do you and Quentin Richardson talk about this contest?
Johnson: We really donít talk about it much other than during the media (availabilities). As far as when weíre amongst ourselves, we donít really talk that much about it. We know we both have that competitive edge, but itís not really going to come out until tomorrow night. I might not even speak to him.

Q: Do you guys have any side bets going?
Johnson: No we donít have a bet going right now.

Q: The way you guys throw the ball up in Phoenix, you probably already have the endurance to hoist 30 shots in the contest?
Johnson: Yeah, itís going to be exciting. I canít wait. Itís going to be a big stage out there.

Q: Do you think you'll change your shooting style to conserve energy?
Johnson: I don't know, I'm going to just probably keep it the same. I don't want to change up anything at this point, so I'll just come out and enjoy the moment. As far as energy, it's going to be so exciting, it's going to be a big stage out there and I can't wait.


KYLE KORVER, Philadelphia 76ers

Q: Did you learn anything last year that may give you an advantage this year?
Korver: I think Iím just a lot more comfortable. I know what to expect; I know whatís going on. Itís not like you change your technique. I just think my confidence levelís a little higher and hopefully that will show.

Q: How different is it shooting without somebody guarding you?
Korver: I almost would prefer to have someone there. This is all about just finding a groove and riding it. You donít get to warm up; you warm up and then you sit there for a while and itís just who can get hot the fastest.

Q: Do you approach the contest as you shooting against yourself more than against the competition?
Korver: Yeah, basically. Obviously you have to beat the other guys. I have a certain score that Iím trying to get in my head but Iím not going to say it. So Iíll try to get that and if I do get that Iíll be happy.

Q: Are you happy that Voshon Lenard is able to defend his title from last year?
Korver: Yeah I am. I donít know his story at all. I donít know how his rehab is going, but good for him.

Q: Is he the man to beat?
Korver: He has to be. He won it last year. I donít know how much heís been shooting or whatnot, but he definitely has to be the one to beat.


VOSHON LENARD, Denver Nuggets

Q: Who will be your biggest competition?
Lenard: Everybody. Everybody thatís on that roster for the three-point contest can shoot the ball so itís going to be a difficult competition.

Q: But youíve got the homecourt advantage Ö
Lenard: With the shooters theyíve got, Ray (Allen), (Kyle) Korver and those guys, itís not really a homecourt advantage. You just have to try to go out and try to make as many shots as you can.

Q: Howís the rehab on your Achilles?
Lenard: The rehabís been going good; Iím ahead of schedule and I donít want to do anything. So, Iíll continue to work out until itís 100 percent.

Q: Do you feel like the marked man because youíre the reigning champion?
Lenard: I donít really feel like the marked man because I havenít played in so long so I just want to get out there and have some fun.

Q: How much have you been able to practice? Lenard: Well Iíve been shooting pretty good but when you get out there and the lights get on, itís a whole different situation. Iím used to it, so it should be fun.


VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC, Seattle SuperSonics

Q: Whatís it like to be a part of this?
Radmanovic: Itís great. Itís a great feeling just to be here with all those guys knowing that youíre going to be a three-point contest. I just want to see all those guys with a sad face when we finish it.

Q: Have you been practicing?
Radmanovic: Iím practicing every day. Iím playing the games and shooting the threes, so every day I step on the floor Iím practicing. All Iím going to do is step up, shoot my threes, have another practice and see what happens.

Q: Do you have any favorite three-point shooters?
Radmanovic: Somebody told me that Larry Bird came out in the lockerroom and said, ďOkay, whoís going to be second here?Ē So I think thatís kind of cool; a little cocky, but cool. And he won it. So you have confidence for sure if you want to be there. If youíre thinking of losing, donít even go there. I think every guy here is thinking about winning so weíre going to see whoís the lucky one.

Q: Are you surprised that Voshon Lenard is able to defend his title despite being out for the season with an Achilles injury?
Radmanovic: I am. Iím surprised heís participating. I donít know how healthy he is right now. Also, thatís a great thing that he decided to be here with an injured leg and try to defend your title. You have to give him credit for that.


QUENTIN RICHARDSON, Phoenix Suns

Q: Have you and Joe Johnson been talking about the Shootout?
Richardson: No, not really. Not yet. Joeís kind of quiet. He hasnít really said a lot to me about the competition yet. But, Iím going to mess with him a little bit.

Q: Who do you think will fare better between the two of you?
Richardson: I donít know. It depends. We get in a good rhythm, we both can get pretty hot. I just hope he does as well as me.

Q: So no bets between you two on the contest?
Richardson: No. Not yet.