The NBA All-Star break is nearly upon us with just one more game scheduled for Thursday night before the week-long recess begins. For many teams and their players, it means a week of rest and relaxation from the grind of the 82-game schedule as well as some practice time to get better. For the best players in the NBA, however, it means a shorter break than the rest of the league gets while participating in the star-studded All-Star Weekend.
L.A. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is looking to become the first big man to win the Slam Dunk Contest since Dwight Howard did it in 2008 as a member of the Orlando Magic. Blake Griffin won the contest in 2011, but he doesn’t qualify as a center, unfortunately. Jordan is looking forward to the competition, and says he’s enlisted the help of a former dunk champion. Jordan wouldn’t say if that person was Griffin.
“Well, I got a little help from somebody coming who won the dunk contest before. I can’t say who, but he won the dunk contest before and he is going to help me out. A friend of mine.”
That player could be Griffin, his teammate, but it could also be former dunk champion Howard of the Atlanta Hawks, whom Jordan’s Clippers happened to go up against in their final game before the break. Here are the winners of the contest since 2000:
2016 – Zach LaVine, MIN
2015 – Zach LaVine, MIN
2014 – John Wall, WSH
2013 – Terrence Ross, TOR
2012 – Jeremy Evans, UTAH
2011 – Blake Griffin, LAC
2010 – Nate Robinson, NYK
2009 – Nate Robinson, NYK
2008 – Dwight Howard, ORL
2007 – Gerald Green, BOS
2006 – Nate Robinson, NYK
2005 – Josh Smith, ATL
2004 – Fred Jones, IND
2003 – Jason Richardson, GSW
2002 – Jason Richardson, GSW
2001 – Desmond Mason, SEA
2000 – Vince Carter, TOR
Head coach Doc Rivers says that when the Clippers have had practices or shootarounds, he’s never seen Jordan practice dunks for the competition.
“I’ve never seen him practice dunks, so what we’re suggesting is that you get the quarterback there (in New Orleans), Drew Brees to throw a ball from the other basket for a dunk, I think that would be really cool. Thats what I’m looking for.”
When told about his coach’s comments, Jordan said he’d rather have quarterback Dak Prescott throwing that lob to him.
“I love Drew Brees, but if [it’s] anybody, it’ll be Dak Prescott because me and Blake are Dallas Cowboys fans.”
During halftime of the Chicago Bulls–Boston Celtics on Thursday, NBA on TNT’s broadcast showed Jordan arriving in New Orleans with some other dunk contest competitors and taking the court for some practice dunks. He also took part in the photo-shoot as well.
— 2017 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) February 17, 2017