Posted Feb 17, 2013 2:50 AM
HOUSTON -- You could call it a night for a liberal arts education at the Sprite Slam Dunk.
At one point, defending champion Jeremy Evans of the Jazz was a sky-walking artist as he leaped over a covered easel, whipped home a left-handed windmill and then unveiled a painting that showed himself doing that very same dunk.
Then Terrence Ross did a stroll down the hall of Raptors' history, paying homage to DeMar DeRozan and Vince Carter, to write his own name in the books as the new king of the rim rattlers.
Ross wrapped up the crown on his last dunk of the night when he soared over a ballboy positioned just outside the defensive circle, took the ball between his legs and snapped it through the hoop like the crack of a whip.
"I told [the ballboy] the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go through the legs," Ross said. "He was kind of nervous. When I first grabbed him, he said, 'You're not going to hit me, right?' I said, 'No, I'm not going to hit you.' So I had to calm his nerves."
The 22-year-old Toronto rookie made his gravity-defying tour de force look as laid-back and easy as a night in a La-Z-Boy. He opened by taking the ball behind his back on a 360 dunk in the first round that drew a perfect score of 50 from the panel of hometown Rockets' legends made up of Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, Yao Ming, Clyde Drexler and Dikembe Mutombo.
For his second dunk, Ross bounced the ball, caught it halfway around and then completed the 360 with a two-handed slam for a score of 49. He then opened the head-to-head battle against Evans in the finals by donning a No. 15 Carter jersey and flew out of the right corner as his former high school teammate Terrence Jones of the Rockets tossed the ball off the side of the backboard. Ross rose to snatch the ball and whirled for yet another 360 that earned him the title, which was decided by fan balloting via texting and on social media.
Along with winning the title, Ross pledged a cash contribution to "Dunk Cancer" to help raise money to benefit the Children's Cancer Association and his high school back home, Jefferson High, in Portland, Ore.
"Ever since I was in about the third grade, my mom has run an out-of-home day care service," Ross had said before the competition. "So there were always kids around. One of the kids that she took care of had cancer. We were close to the family and were always around each other so it hit home for us. That's the main reason I've chosen to support "Dunk Cancer" and "Dunk Cancer Month."
In the process of soaring above the field for most of the night, Ross took down the two prohibitive favorites entering the competition. Hometown slammer Gerald Green, the 2007 champ, scored a perfect 50 on his first dunk of the night, but failed on 10 tries at an attempted double-dunk -- catching the ball and putting it through again -- and was eliminated.
The other surprise early casualty was the Knicks James "Flight" White, probably the pre-event favorite, who had trouble getting the ball to do down.
Denver's Kenneth Faried had a first-round 50, but couldn't back it up, while the smallest dunker, 6-foot-1 Eric Bledsoe of the Clippers came through for the little guys with a bounce, catch and soaring reverse dunk for a 50 in the second round.
Ross is the first rookie to win the NBA slam dunk contest. A year ago he was playing for the University of Washington and now he's trying to carve out a place in the Raptors' rotation, averaging 6.4 points in just under 17 minutes per game.
"I'm sure there's a lot of guys in college right now that are extemely athletic," Ross said. "I don't know if this is validation, but it definitely feels good."
Despite Ross' victory, the West beat the East 140-125 in the team competition.
-- Fran Blinebury
2013 Eastern Conference Sprite Slam Dunk Competitors
2013 Western Conference Sprite Slam Dunk Competitors
Evans wins 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk
With the game's biggest stars watching from courtside, Saturday night's Sprite Slam Dunk contest provided an opportunity for a fresh new face to introduce himself to the NBA's global audience.
And that's exactly what Jeremy Evans did.
A relative unknown and former NBA D-Leaguer, the Utah Jazz forward won the 2012 Sprite Slam Dunk contest, defeating Houston's Chase Budinger in a tight race that included 4 million voters on NBA.com deciding the champion rather than a panel of judges.
Griffin steals the show to win Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
Blake 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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Celtics' 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.
2013 -- Terrence Ross, Toronto
2012 -- Jeremy Evans, Utah
2011 -- Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers
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
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