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Having the quality of something created rather than imitated
Creativity was clearly the focus of this year's Sprite Slam Dunk competition, leading up to it and during the competition itself. Imitation would not be accepted. If you didn't bring something new to the contest, you would be staring at five NBA legends green cards with nothing but 8s on them.
"I don't think people want to see the same old dunks," Dwight Howard said afterward. "They want to see something else, see some spice."
And Howard brought the spice tonight. And it wasn't just spicy. It was down right impressive. Howard dominated both rounds of the competition, scoring 50s on both of his first round dunks and receiving 78 percent of the fans' votes in the finals.
The key to Howard's victory may have been that his two best dunks (the two he showed us in his YouTube video) were not in the same round.
And it's quite possible that no one else in the world could do those two dunks.
On his first dunk of the night, Howard tossed the ball to himself off the back of the backboard, caught it, and threw it down with his left hand while his head was still on the other side of the glass. It was a variation, and a nice one at that, of Andre Iguodala's 50 in 2006.
"I've been working on that one for two years," Howard revealed. "I saw Iguodala did it, and I was working on it after that, coming up with my own little thing."
On his first dunk of the finals, Howard did a high toss from the left wing, tipped off the backboard (on the right side) with his left hand, and then threw it down with his right. And he made it look very easy.
But Howard wasn't going to do the tip dunk, maybe because most basketball fans had seen it already on YouTube. Fortunately though, his friends convinced him that the rest of the world needed to see it.
In between those two came the Superman dunk, a showcase of Howard's playful personality. And the showcase continued late in the night after the New Orleans Arena crowd had gone home, as Howard donned the cape for his post-contest photo shoot and danced around Jennifer Pottheiser's set backstage.
But while Howard was clearly the star of this night, each of the other dunkers also provided some theatrics of their own.
Gerald Green's cupcake dunk, where he put his head above the rim to blow out a candle as he threw it down, was arguably the best dunk of the night. Rudy Gay did another variation of the Iguodala dunk, having teammate Kyle Lowry toss the ball off the rear support of the backboard. And Jamario Moon had two solid dunks of his own, a 360 off a high toss, and a lefty catch-and-jam while taking off just inside the foul line.
But if you combined the other three's performances, you might not be able to beat what Howard came up with.
You voted. You decided. Dwight Howard was creative, Dwight Howard was impressive, and Dwight Howard was the best dunker on All-Star Saturday.