Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers Blog: George hopes to team up with Bird in dunk contest

George hopes to team up with Bird in dunk contest

Feb. 16, 2012 - Paul George isn't sure how he would like to employ Larry Bird, but he considers the Pacers President and resident legend his best weapon against Lin-sanity.

George added another activity to his All-Star Weekend agenda Thursday when he was selected to participate in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. Among his three competitors is Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who already has said he intends to use Jeremy Lin as his foil.

"This definitely isn't the perfect time because Jeremy Lin has just created something huge. It'll definitely be tough facing those two in the dunk contest," George said. "I'm working on some things right now that can attract a lot of attention."

I thought he might reprise his dunk over 7-2 teammate Roy Hibbert, who'll be in Orlando as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. But George said he had bigger things in mind, if not taller.

"We'll see," he said. "I'm trying to go even bigger and get Mr. Bird out there."

George, who also will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, which replaces the rookie-sophomore game on the Friday night before the All-Star Game. The players selected were put into a pool and drafted into teams by Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley on Thursday night. Barkley took George with his third pick, behind Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins.

He will not, however, participate in the 3-point shootout.

George hid his disappointment well. Dunks, after all, are much more his thing.

"This is something that I've wanted to do for a very long time now so to get a chance to be a part of this is very special to me," he said. "I'm super excited. It's another chance to showcase this team, showcase this organization, the state of Indiana and showcase myself back home."

There is an entirely new structure to the dunk contest this year. Instead of going round-by-round, each contestant (the others are Shumpert, Derrick Williams of Minnesota and Chase Budinger of Houston) will have three dunks. There will be no celebrity judges as in years past; fan voting will be the sole determining factor -- hence Shumpert's huge advantage with Lin's presence.

"It's a little iffy now that it's fan-based so that could be the only problem. But I think I've got enough tricks and some good stuff coming up," George said. "I've got a lot of stuff I've been doing over the summer. With the lockout I had a lot of time just to be in the gym to play around. I've still got some stuff I worked on in the summer and a couple of ideas I've come up with.

"I watched a lot of clips on Vince Carter, Dominique, M.J., I'm just trying to mix all those together, flashy with some flair in it and really I just want to rock the rim."

George will be the sixth Pacers player to participate in the dunk contest, following Fred Jones (who won in 2004), Jonathan Bender (2001), Antonio Davis (1994), Kenny Williams (1991) and Terence Stansbury (1985 and '86).

"I'm happy, no doubt about it," George said of the selection. "It's another step in a great direction for me."

Onward and upward.