The 2011 Sprite NBA Slam Dunk Contest was over before it started.
This was the Blake Show. He knew it. You knew it. I knew it.
And while competitors DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and most notably, JaVale McGee, put up valiant resistance, Blake Griffin was a lock to take home the hardware.
Griffin could have dropped in two-finger rolls in the opening round and still have found himself in the finals.
And while he certainly powered the ball home on each and every attempt, it was the unheralded trio of challengers who used their creativity to steal some of the spotlight, if only for a moment.
Serge Ibaka dunked from the other side of the free throw line (unlike the ones the Doc and MJ launched themselves from). He followed that dunk up by snatching a stuffed animal off the rim with his mouth!
DeRozan put home two acrobatic, original dunks.
McGee outdid them all, putting two balls through two baskets his first go-round and then stuffing three baskets in one hoop on his second.
Blake couldn't get his second dunk right (no thanks to Baron Davis) and "settled" for a powerful two-handed flush on an alley-oop off the side of the backboard.
Naturally, he found himself in the finals.
And while he wowed with a sweet ball and arm flush a la Vince Carter—though this time off a lob to himself off the backboard, we didn't quite see the fireworks we expected from Griffin.
For his final trick, Griffin's coach Kenny Smith brought out the official car of the NBA, the Kia Optima. I began to feel sick to my stomach.
This was going to end bad.
But it didn't end that great, either.
When Griffin literally launched himself (it looked like he had to use the rim to halt his soaring momentum) over the hood of a Kia Optima (the official car of the NBA!) and flushed home a Baron Davis toss, it was over. It wouldn’t have mattered what McGee did.
McGee couldn't connect on his final dunk, but with the fans voting, it might not have mattered if he had jumped over the Optima (the official car of the NBA!) lengthwise.
Blake Griffin is a powerful dunker. An angry dunker. A ferocious finisher. He is at his best flushing the ball down the throat of a seven-foot white guy.
The most exciting dunks are in-game dunks. Jordan over Ewing. Starks over Horace Grant. Vince over that French guy. Blake over Mozgov and Gallinari.
And so we confirmed tonight what we should have already known. Blake Griffin is the best in-game dunker in the NBA.
When it matters and when the competition is at its highest, the rookie rises (literally) to the occasion.
Countless YouTube highlights propelled Griffin to an easy win in the dunk contest, perhaps rightfully so.
It would be hard to say, however, that Griffin lived up to the gigantic expectations heaped upon him leading up to this night.
And that's not his fault. His dunks in the games should be better. They're the dunks that carry weight. They're the dunks that count as two points. They're the dunks that posterize the Mozgov's of the world.
And on that note, may I suggest a new prop for next year's dunk contest?