James "Flight" White has captured fans everywhere with his ability to get way above the rim.
And he hasn't even dunked yet at the 2013 NBA All-Star Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
The New York Knicks swingman is preparing to take the league by storm on Saturday night, when the annual event kicks off in Houston. Not only will White win the event by a wide margin (bold prediction time), he'll do so despite being just the fourth participant that will be 30 years old at the time of the event (via Paul Pabst):
Paul Pabst @PaulPabst
Julius Erving participated in the Slam Dunk Contest at age 33 and 34. Only two other did this at age 30-plus...Dominique and Tim Perry (30)2013-2-15 14:53:23
The last time a 30-year-old won the event was all the way back in 1990, when Dominique Wilkins himself made one final appearance to show the young guns how it's really done.
White doesn't have that kind of pedigree with NBA players, but checking out his highlight films from all over the country, he'll present a Wilkins-type performance with his repertoire on Saturday night.
Even if you haven't seen any of White's famous dunks (ranging from a free-throw line 360 to a mind-bending air on normal throwdowns), check out this NBA.com spoof on YouTube to prep you for White's arrival on the big stage:
Jared Zwerling predicted that White would make the big showdown in Houston—and he was right. Zwerling called White the "secret dunk hero" in his piece in early February, and the Knicks' current roster has been amazed with what he can do. Carmelo Anthony is at the front of that statement:
"A lot of people haven't seen James," his Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony said. "He's the best-kept secret."
That's about to change.
White will not only make this his first (and hopefully not last) Dunk Contest appearance, but he'll renew a rivalry with fellow participant Gerald Green, the one-time winner of this event and White's competitor from a dunk contest in Russia just a few years ago.
Here's the highlights of that event:
White has won many a dunk contest in his tenure as a high-flyer, including the 2009 NBA Developmental League one.
While White is making headlines for dunks of his past, he's also claimed that there won't be a dunk that he uses that has been seen in competition before. He reiterated that on Friday, as repeated by the Knicks' official Twitter account during All-Star weekend festivities:
NEW YORK KNICKS @nyknicks
"I'm going to do some things people have never seen before" @Flight8 #knicks #NBAAllStar http://t.co/2BNL89lE2013-2-15 16:12:59
The rest of the field features dunkers that all can get the job done, but no one that should shake White off the post as the field's top contender.
From Eric Bledsoe, the event's smallest competitor, to Jeremy Evans, the reigning champion, there's plenty of potential for high-flying dunks. Throw in Terrence Ross, Kenneth Faried and Green, and it should be a doozy in Houston.
Those five won't come close to White, though. He's known as "Flight" for a reason, and he will prove it by taking home the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk championship on Saturday night.