The Blake Show
I am not a Blake Griffin hater. In fact, as a diehard Cleveland Cavaliers fan there are very few players I like that don't wear the wine and gold. Blake Griffin is one of those players. I was rooting for him to win the 2011 NBA Dunk Contest. However, after watching the NBA Dunk Contest last night you would have to be blind to not see that the contest was fixed for The Blake Show to take home the title.
I am going to go over the scoring on a dunk by dunk basis. I will also evaluate each competitor's attempts as the contest progressed.
DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors had the first dunk of the night. Teammate Amir Johnson bounced the ball off the basketball stanchion, DeRozan caught the ball, went through his legs, and threw down the dunk. Really a nice dunk. The judges gave him a 44 which seemed about right.
Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder then performed the infamous "Free Throw Line Dunk." The judges gave Ibaka a 45. I am really torn on how to judge this dunk. From a positive standpoint Ibaka took off further then anyone else ever has. Doctor J, Michael Jordan and Brent Barry all used this dunk in their arsenal to win the dunk contest. However, each of them had part of his foot or his entire foot past the free throw line when he took off. Ibaka was totally behind the free throw line. On the negative side Ibaka is 6'10". His stride and arm length makes this a lot less impressive. It still takes a ton of athleticism to pull off the dunk, but he didn't do anything special with the ball while in the air. In the end the score of 45 feels about right.
JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards then did the double rim dunk. He had two basketball hoops placed side by side. The distance between the hoops measured 4.5 feet. McGee starts off with a basketball in each hand. He then tosses the ball in his right hand off the backboard on the left (while running), then slams the ball in his left hand in the left hoop, catches the previously thrown ball back in his right hand, and slams it home in the right hoop. As Reggie Miller said during the contest, maybe only one person in the world can do that dunk. I think Dwight Howard could do it as well, but that's it. Possibly the best dunk I have ever seen in terms of difficulty. It got a perfect score of 50, but it seemed that didn't do it justice. Amazing.
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers then did a 360 dunk after taking the ball back behind his head. It was a nice dunk that probably should have scored in the low to mid 40s. Somehow Blake was awarded a 49 by the judges. How on earth was that an almost perfect dunk after what we had just seen JaVale McGee do? The first whiff of a fix is detected in the air.
DeRozan led off the second dunk round. He first threw the ball into the air, caught it, cupped the ball and then threw down a reverse dunk. It scored a perfect 50 with the judges, which it deserved. It did make you wish that the judges could have awarded more than 50 points to McGee's previous dunk. Not all 50 point dunks are created equal. This gave DeRozan a total of 94 points for the first round.
Ibaka then unleashed one of the most creative dunks of all time. I'll call it the "Bite the Stuffed Animal Dunk." Ibaka came from behind the basket, bit the stuffed Rumble the Bison doll, and threw down the dunk. The judges gave him a 45, which seemed a tad low. I thought the dunk should have been in the upper 40s. Regardless, his total stood at 90 points for the first round.
Griffin's next dunk started off with Baron Davis throwing the ball off the side of the backboard. Griffin caught the ball in mid-air, did a windmill and dunked the ball. Yawn. Easily the weakest dunk of the contest so far by a mile. I would have given it a score in the low 40s at best, maybe even as low as a 40. Griffin inexplicably got a 46 for the dunk. Why? It guaranteed him a spot in the finals. There is absolutely no way that dunk was better than either of Ibaka's dunks or DeRozan's first dunk. His total of 95 points was one more than DeRozan's total. It was blatantly obvious at that point that everyone involved was going to get Griffin to the final round even if he didn't deserve it. The stench of a fix was pretty pungent at this point.
McGee's final dunk of the first round started off with his mom, Pam McGee, bringing out a third ball for him and schmoozing the judges. Pam McGee played in the WNBA and JaVale is the first player in the NBA whose mother played in the WNBA. JaVale started off with a ball in each hand, dunked them one by one, then caught a lob from teammate John Wall, and flushed home the third ball. No one has ever dunked three balls before. He received 49 points from the judges. Normally, I would have said the dunk deserved a perfect score of 50, but he did hang on to the rim briefly so I am fine with the score being slightly less than perfect. His total of 99 easily put him in the finals. His first two dunks may have been the best opening round display that I have ever seen.
With his first dunk in the finals Blake did the famous Vince Carter "Elbow Dunk." The only difference was that Blake threw the ball off the backboard while Vince took the ball with him on the way up. I think Vince's dunk had the higher degree of difficulty, but if you can get high enough to put your freaking elbow down the rim, you deserve major props. The judges weren't scoring at this point (fans vote in the finals now) but if they were, I would have given this dunk a 48.
With his first dunk in the finals McGee did a "Reverse Rock the Cradle Dunk" across the baseline. It was breathtaking. I still don't know how he made his arm move like that. His head was on the other side of the backboard for crying out loud. It was a no brainer 50 point perfect dunk in my opinion. At this point McGee has basically pulled off three perfect dunks.
With his last dunk of the competition Blake Griffin pulled off the dunk that people will remember for years. I'd call it the "Evel Knievel Dunk." With Baron Davis hanging out the sun roof of a Kia, Griffin took off around the half circle from the free throw line, grabbed Baron's lob while soaring over the car, and dunked it home. He "only" did it over the front hood of the car, but it was impressive nonetheless. I would have given it a 47. That would have put Blake's total at 95 in my book.
Theoretically, all McGee needed to do was pull off a dunk worthy of a 46 or better to win it. Considering he had 149 out of 150 points, in my eyes I thought he would do it with ease. That is when McGee took a dive. He had a lame dunk that somehow "didn't count." His next dunk was a simple throw it off the backboard and jam it home display. How blase. His head was above the rim, but he is seven feet tall for crying out loud. If Spud Webb did it, I would have gone bonkers, but not for JaVale McGee or any other seven footer. I would give that dunk a 35 at best. That would put his total at 85 with Blake Griffin crushing him.
So why am I upset that Blake won if I graded him out higher in the finals? Blake Griffin shouldn't have been in the finals in the first place. That's why. The judges rigged it with inflated scores for Griffin to surpass DeMar DeRozan to secure his spot in the finals. Then JaVale McGee laid down. His excuse? Serge Ibaka had performed one of the dunks he was planning on doing (safe bet to assume he was referring to the Free Throw Line Dunk) so he had to abandon his plan. How could you come to the contest with only four dunks planned, especially if one of them was a dunk as famous as the Free Throw Line Dunk? He should have had a quality plan B in his pocket. That is, unless, he was in on the fix.
The NBA wants Blake Griffin to be a star. You can't blame them. He goes full bore every time he steps out onto the court and he is the most exciting in game big man dunker since Shawn Kemp. The combination of the judges screwing over DeRozan and Ibaka, inflating Blake's scores, and McGee's possible dive, leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Winning the dunk contest makes Blake's star shine that much brighter. I was rooting for him. I just wish he had won under circumstances that weren't rigged.