Jordan Narrows Down Dunk Options As Contest Nears
NEW ORLEANS – DeAndre Jordan would watch the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest as a kid and wonder how the contestants jumped so far, wishing one day he could be in their shoes.
That wait ends Saturday night.
Before Jordan competes in his first All-Star Game Sunday night, he’ll take part for the first time in Saturday’s Verizon Slam Dunk contest, joining Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, Phoenix’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III at the Smoothie King Center.
“As you get older, now having an opportunity to do it, I think it’s really special,” Jordan said. “I’m excited about it.”
He’s also more nervous about it than he is Sunday’s All-Star Game, but he’s getting his practice time in. After going through his media circuit Thursday, it was straight to putting up dunks in the gym.
Jordan said he narrowed down about 70 ideas to a solid five or six, though he wouldn’t share any of the details or the names of the people who might be helping him out.
Thursday was all about trying options he may not have thought possible. He was surprised at some of the moves that worked, while realizing others just weren’t physically possible.
“My legs are a little tired,” Jordan said. “I did about 100 dunks yesterday, practicing and failing and a lot of kicked balls, but it was fun. I’m really excited for tomorrow.”
He still might freestyle some of his dunks, though that would go against the advice of his teammate and 2011 Slam Dunk Champion Blake Griffin. Jordan said Griffin didn’t offer many tips, but he did suggest going into the event with at least a handful of options.
Jordan also joked that Griffin suggested not missing.
“That’s about it,” Jordan said with a smile. “But I’m excited to see a lot of the other guys in it.”
This year’s dunk contest is two rounds, with each competitor getting two dunks and a maximum of three attempts to complete each dunk in each round. Five judges score every dunk on a scale of 6 to 10, with 50 being the highest score a player can receive. The two players with the highest combined score for their two dunks advance from the first round to the head-to-head final.
One of the favorites has to be Gordon, a player who knows what a 50 feels like after helping revive the competition with his high-flying theatrics last year. Gordon’s epic showdown with last year’s winner, Minnesota’s Zach LaVine, was the highlight of Toronto’s All-Star Saturday Night.
“Those guys are tremendous athletes,” Jordan said. “I’m really excited to see Aaron again and Derrick Jones, because I’ve seen some of his stuff on the internet.”
That feeling appears to be mutual.
“I’m very excited to have everybody that’s in the dunk contest this year,” said Jones, who added that he has a few dunks up his sleeve no one’s seen in a dunk contest yet. “I can’t wait to go out there Saturday night and put on a show. That’s what it’s all about.”
Jordan’s by far the largest player in the event this year at 6-11 and more than 260 pounds. Dwight Howard showed years ago that a center can win, but Jordan said he thinks his size puts him at an immediate disadvantage, because dunks often look cooler when they’re completed by shorter players.
“You have to take into account we have a lot of long limbs moving around,” Jordan said. “It’s a lot of work, but once you slow it down, it looks a lot better.”
Gordon said Jordan’s different from most other bigs who have competed in the past, but like Howard, Jordan’s combination of size and athleticism is something most people don’t get to see often.
Whatever Jordan pulls off, he just wants to focus on one thing.
“I want to have as much fun as possible,” Jordan said.