With the Staples Center crowd standing on Saturday night, a choir singing at midcourt and his teammate Baron Davis launching a pass from the driver’s seat of a Kia parked below the rim, , caught the pass, finished the dunk and clinched the contest.
“I actually wanted to do a little bit more with it in the air, but when it came down to it, I didn’t want to keep jumping over the car,” Griffin said, acting as if jumping over an automobile was normal. “I just went ahead and put it in.”
The weekend has been trying for Griffin. A close friend died recently, but he played in the freshman-sophomore All-Star Game on Friday and will play in the varsity version Sunday.
When Griffin practiced the dunk Thursday, he noticed team executives in attendance. Griffin lost last season, which would have been his rookie year, to an injury.
“I realized everybody is kind of nervous about this,” Griffin said. “So I jumped over it, and I kind of looked at them and they are like, ‘All right, you can do it.’ ”
It was an entertaining dunk contest that included stuffed animals, crafty names and multiple dunks in one jump. With no props to his benefit, Washington’s JaVale McGee closed the contest by running from the baseline, throwing the ball off the backboard and slamming it in with his head. He had to adapt, he said, once Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka converted a dunk earlier that McGee planned to use.
In the last couple years, it seemed like every possible way to dunk a basketball was already conceived — successful or not — and the event had run its course. Saturday’s contestants took to innovative measures with the benefit of weeks of planning.
“All of us came prepared,” McGee said. “We came with props and everything. We came with entertainment because we definitely didn’t want to be another disappointment for the slam-dunk contest like the year before was.”
McGee dunked two basketballs on two different rims in one jump and, if that was not enough, he dunked three on one rim in a single leap for his next attempt with an assist on the last basketball from John Wall’s pass.
Ibaka dunked while rescuing a child’s toy that had “somehow” gotten stuck on the rim. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan named his dunks. The “showstopper” earned a perfect score, but he did not draw well on his dunk of the night and did not advance to the final round with Ibaka. DeRozan was a finalist in last year’s contest in Dallas.
The participants had reason to pull out anything and everything they could. The judges consisted of some of the game’s most electrifying dunkers: , James Worthy, Brent Barry, Dominique Wilkins and . They voted in the first round, but fans voted Griffin the winner.