Sonics on All-Star Saturday Night
Since the NBA adapted the Slam-Dunk Contest from the ABA in 1984, All-Star Saturday Night has become almost as much of the pageantry of All-Star weekend as the game itself. Currently, there are four events on Saturday night – the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, the Playstation Skills Challenge and the Radio Shack Shooting Stars – as well as the got milk? Rookie Challenge, which has been moved to Friday but is still in the Saturday spirit.

When it comes to the two longest-tenured Saturday night events, the Slam-Dunk Contest and the Three-Point Shootout, the Sonics have a long and distinguished history.

Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk



Mason's perfect 50 wasn't quite enough in 2003.
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty
Only four Sonics have participated in the Slam-Dunk Contest, but they have combined for nine appearances in the contest.

Forwards Tom Chambers and Terence Stansbury gave the Sonics a pair of competitors in 1987, when the All-Star Game was held at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Though the 6-10 Chambers, while with the Phoenix Suns, recorded one of the NBA’s most memorable dunks – his two-hand slam where he rose off of Mark Jackson – he finished in a tie for seventh out of eight competitors. Stansbury, remembered for his Statue of Liberty dunk in the Slam-Dunk Contest while with the Indiana Pacers, earned a pair of perfect 50 scores, but still failed to advance to the finals and finished third.

In 1989, the Sonics drafted another 6-10 forward who would also earn fame as a dunker, Shawn Kemp. The Slam-Dunk Contest has mostly been a little man’s game since 6-10 Larry Nance won the first ever title, but Kemp briefly challenged that notion with his combination of power and agility.

During his rookie season, Kemp finished fourth, but he was just warming up. In 1991, Kemp had the highest score after the first round of the competition and advanced to face Boston Celtics rookie Dee Brown in the finals. Brown ended up winning when he dunked with his left hand supposedly covering his eyes and keeping him from seeing the rim. (Many experts and most Sonics fans believe Brown could see.)

Kemp had two more Dunk Contests in him, but he had already peaked. In 1992, he scored a disappointing 81.4 in the first round and finished fifth. After missing the contest with an injury in 1993, Kemp advanced to the finals against Isiah Rider and Robert Pack in 1994, but missed both of his final-round dunks to finish third. After that, Kemp retired from dunk competition, wishing to focus instead on playing in the All-Star Game – which he would do each of the next four years.

The Sonics were not represented in the Slam-Dunk contest again until 2001. Rookie swingman Desmond Mason was one of six competitors, and emerged a surprise winner over DeShawn Stevenson and Baron Davis in a field without defending champion Vince Carter. Mason’s dunk over teammate Rashard Lewis buoyed him to an 89-85 victory.

Mason competed each of the next two years, but was unable to recapture his trophy. In 2002, Mason lost to eventual champion Jason Richardson in the first round in that year’s head-to-head format. The next season, Mason and Richardson matched up again, this time in the finals. Mason looked to have things locked up after earning a 50 for his first dunk, when he took the ball between his legs from his right hand to his left and slammed it home. However, after Mason played it safe on his second dunk, Richardson earned his own 50 with a similar move and won, 96-93.

Year Player
Finish
1987 Terence Stansbury
3rd
1987 Tom Chambers
T7th
1990 Shawn Kemp
4th
1991 Shawn Kemp
2nd
1992 Shawn Kemp
6th
1993 Shawn Kemp
Injured
1994 Shawn Kemp
3rd
2001 Desmond Mason
1st
2002 Desmond Mason
3rd
2003 Desmond Mason
2nd

Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout



Barry showed off his skills in both shooting and dancing.
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty
Two years after beginning All-Star Saturday night, the NBA added the three-point shootout to its lineup. Behind the hot shooting of Larry Bird, the shootout quickly joined the dunk contest as one of Saturday night’s marquee events. As befits their reputation as outstanding outside shooters, the Sonics have had ten competitors in the 17 years of the three-point shootout.

The Sonics signature three-point competitor was also their first: swingman Dale Ellis. After participating with the Dallas Mavericks in 1986, Ellis joined the Sonics and developed into an All-Star player – and three-point shootout competitor. Ellis finished fifth in 1987, losing a tiebreaker to eventual champion Bird. The next year, Ellis gave two-time defending champ Bird a run for his money, losing 17-15 in the finals. Ellis broke through in 1989 with Bird out of the competition. Facing Craig Hodges in the finals, Ellis put together his second 19-point round of the night to win.

After rejoining the Sonics as a reserve in 1998, Ellis represented them in the shootout again. Ellis led the league in three-point percentage that year at 46.4%, but finished third.

Guard Dana Barros was another Sonics league leader, winning the three-point percentage title in 1991-92. The next season, Barros participated in his first shootout, finishing fourth. The Sonics next representative was Sam Perkins in 1997. One of the only centers ever to take part in the shootout, Perkins’ slow release proved his downfall, and he finished eighth and last, scoring a Sonics-low eight points.

The next generation of Sonics shooters debuted in 2001 with Lewis, who finished sixth. In 2003, guard Brent Barry – a third Sonics player who led the league in three-point percentage – attempted to become the first player to win both the slam-dunk contest (which he did as a Clippers rookie in 1996) and the shootout. Barry’s 19 first-round points prompted a display of c-walking, tied Ellis’ Sonics record and led all participants. Barry hit for 17 points in the final round, but was eliminated when Wesley Person and eventual champion Predrag Stojakovic each scored 20, Stojakovic later winning the ‘overtime’. Barry was unable to participate in 2004 because of a broken hand, but Lewis made a return appearance and finished fourth, scoring 16 points.

A pair of Sonics were selected for the 2005 Shootout - Ray Allen, who won in 2001 in Milwaukee, and Vladimir Radmanovic. Neither advanced to the final round. Allen will try to perform better this year in Houston.

Year Player
Finish
Round One
Round Two
Round Three
1987 Dale Ellis
5th
13
-
-
1988 Dale Ellis
2nd
16
12
15
1989 Dale Ellis
1st
19
18
19
1993 Dana Barros
4th
15
15
-
1997 Sam Perkins
8th
8
-
-
1998 Dale Ellis
3rd
18
15
-
2001 Rashard Lewis
6th
12
-
-
2003 Brent Barry
3rd
19
17
-
2004 Rashard Lewis
4th
16
-
-
2005 Ray Allen
4th
13
-
-
2005 Vladimir Radmanovic
6th
6
-
-
2006 Ray Allen
???
-
-
-

T-Mobile Rookie Challenge


Since debuting in 1994, the Rookie Challenge has trailed only the two veteran events in prestige. It now anchors Friday Night festivities. Initially, it matched rookies from the Western Conference against those from the East, but the format was changed in 2000 to pit the top rookies against the best second-year players. In the 12 years of the competition, the Sonics have had just three competitors, a sign that the Sonics have been in contention most of that stretch and have had only a couple of lottery picks.

The first Sonics player chosen for the Rookie Challenge was Mason, as a Sophomore in 2002. Mason played 23 minutes for the Sophomores, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds, but his team came out on the wrong end of a 103-97 decision. In 2004, Ronald "Flip" Murray had 25 points on 11-for-18 shooting and a game-high 10 assists off the bench as his Sophomore squad dominated, winning 142-118. A year later, Luke Ridnour had 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting and handed out three assists in a 133-106 Sophomore victory.

Year Player
Team
Result
2002 Desmond Mason
Sophomores
2004 Ronald Murray
Sophomores
2005 Luke Ridnour
Sophomores

PlayStation Skills Challenge



Payton couldn't top his good friend Kidd.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty
Looking to broaden the kinds of skills being put on display, the NBA invented the Playstation Skills Challenge in 2003. The Skills Challenge requires players to dribble the ball around obstacles, shoot baskets from designated locations and complete passes. It’s not unlike the obstacle course fans sometimes battle on during Sonics games – except the league’s top point guards are the ones competing.

Former Sonics point guard Gary Payton was chosen for the inaugural skills challenge. Payton advanced to the finals against friend and fellow All-Star Jason Kidd of the Nets. After costing himself time with a dribbling mistake, Payton needed to make his first jumper attempt to defeat Kidd, but it was off and Payton finished second. “I almost had it too, but I messed up at the end,” Payton said afterwards.

Ridnour followed in Payton's footsteps in 2005 in Denver, posting a solid time of 35.4 seconds. Still, Ridnour finished third and did not advance to the final round.

Year Player
Finish
2003 Gary Payton
2nd
2005 Luke Ridnour
3rd