Suns News

Budinger Channels His Inner Ceballos in Dunk Contest

Budinger paid tribute to Ceballos at the slam dunk contest on Saturday.
(NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Feb. 26, 2012

In 1992, former Suns great Cedric Ceballos proved that he could win the NBA's slam dunk contest: blindfolded.

Fast forward 20 years and former Arizona Wildcat and current Rockets swingman Chase Budinger paid tribute to Ceballos’s flair; although he upped the ante. Ceballos captured the 1992 dunk title with his “Hocus-Pocus” blindfolded dunk, a straight-forward two-handed dunk off of one foot.

However Budinger’s dunk was more of a “Hocus-Pocus 2.0,” with the former U of A star dunking blindfolded off of one foot and with two hands, but doing it as a backwards reverse. No one was more appreciative of the tribute than Ceballos, who believes that style is exactly what the dunk contest is all about.

“It’s a show,” Ceballos said. “It’s about show, so I think the props are great.

“You are supposed to take it over the top. Jumping over a car, blindfolds, capes, extended baskets that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

Perhaps Budinger got the idea from earlier in the day, when an amateur also paid tribute to Ceballos at the Sprite Slam Dunk Showdown at Jam Session. With Ceballos on hand watching, a streetballer performed his patented blindfolded dunk to the delight of the audience.

“Everybody is saying, ‘What’s wrong with the dunk contest?’” Ceballos said. “Why isn’t as big as it was? It’s because superstars have more to lose.”

The current Suns emcee went on to use Miami’s LeBron James as an example. If James were to participate and win the dunk contest, Ceballos said it would be expected. But if he lost, it would be talked about ad nauseum.

Before the format for this year's competition was altered, Ceballos was originally slated to judge this year’s dunk contest. However, the NBA decided to scrap the judges and allow the winner to be determined by 100-percent fan voting.

Instead, Budinger brought him onto the court for inspiration.

"It's quite difficult to dunk blind-folded," Budinger said in the Arizona Republic. "It's tough to really explain how tough it is until you go out there and try it."

According to Ceballos, the dunk contest was created because fans wanted to see NBA players perform dunks they couldn’t really pull off in games. And after taking dunking to an incredible level on a physical level, Ceballos sees the next evolution in dunking occurring on the creative level.

“It’s a celebration,” he said. “It brings more drama and increases the viewers. In this era now, with YouTube videos and the internet, there’s no telling how big something can be.”

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