Day 2: Jones Dazzles in Winning Dunk Title
Los Angeles, Feb. 15, 2004
Move over King James, King Jones is on the All-Star Scene! Fred Jones wowed the sold-out Staples Center Crowd last night with 2 perfect 50s and a final round score of 86 to beat 2-time defending champ Jason Richardson and assume the NBA’s Dunk Throne.
The Pacers skywalker opened with a 50 that not only jump-started the crowd, it also helped Freddie shake out all the jitters. More perfection in the finals as Jones pulled off a flying-across-the-lane one-handed fall-away tomahawk. The new king was all smiles afterward, but was a little perturbed at himself for what could’ve been. His Portland, Or. friend and former AAU teammate Brandon Brooks choreographed a dunk that started with Brooks 15 rows deep in the corner seats, lobbing a 75-foot bounce pass to the goal. The Brooks-to-Jones combination was 0-2, but they actually had the crowd on its feet, craning their necks in anticipation - before the second attempt. I’ve never seen that! Had Freddie connected just once, he said “they would’ve been playing that on TV for the rest of the year!”
Even as he embraced his latest and greatest trophy (he’s won 6 of the 7 dunk contests he’s entered), he said, “I’ve got to keep working on my game now, because I don’t want to be known just as a dunker.” Hoop fans in Indianapolis already know better!
Despite Jones' aerial display, Ron Artest is well on his way to becoming the darling of All-Star Weekend 2004. The All-Star rookie was on the court working on his jump-shot with head coach Rick Carlisle a full 45 minutes ahead of schedule, and well before any of his Eastern Conference teammates arrived for Saturday’s practice. (Word is that the others were stuck in traffic!)
In an impromptu contest with his teammates, he drilled two halfcourt jumpers, much to the delight of the Center Court crowd at the NBA Jam Session. He also played to the crowd after the East work-out, repeatedly tossing the ball into the stands, and playfully giving fans a chance to throw him a long alley-oop pass. The final attempt was right on target, as Artest caught, and finished a huge windmill at the buzzer.The crowd went crazy!
Ron also turned TV reporter for the day - clearly trying to muscle in on my territory - interviewing fellow All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Redd and Brad Miller, among others. Check out Ron’s TV skills on next week’s Pacers Telecasts.
Did I mention his footwear? Artest is sporting a brand new Latrell Sprewell model from Dada, complete with “spinners” on the ankles. You may have seen them on the street—the custom wheels that move even when the vehicle doesn’t. But wait till you see them on the court! Totally L.A.!