Green jumps over Robinson, wins Slam Dunk Contest
By Chris Bernucca PA SportsTicker Pro Basketball Editor
LAS VEGAS (Ticker) - Gerald Green changed sneakers, changed uniforms and changed the pecking order among the NBA’s top dunkers.
Green literally hurdled past Nate Robinson as Slam Dunk champion, completing the competition with a perfect score from a demanding panel at All-Star Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“I knew it was going to be tough because those guys had the creativity of the dunking style,” Green said. “I tried to come out with something they never did before.”
A second-year swingman for the Boston Celtics, Green showed terrific originality and outstanding athleticism. He took passes from teammate Paul Pierce, paid homage to former champion Dee Brown and humbled Robinson, the defending champion who plays for the New York Knicks.
Green also wore a headband sporting the No. 2, the number retired for Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach, who died late last year.
“He was the heart, face and soul of the Boston Celtics,” Green said. “I just went with the No. 2 to kind of show him thanks.”
In the first round, Green caught a pass that Pierce perfectly bounced off the side of the backboard and hammered it home with two hands, earning 48 out of 50 points from the panel of five previous champions, including Michael Jordan.
After changing his Reebok “Pump” sneakers, Green stood at midcourt as Pierce brought out a life-sized cardboard cutout of the 5-9 Robinson, who objected and offered to stand in the lane himself.
“I got cardboards made of everybody, but I wanted to use Nate Robinson, since he was the champ,” Green said. “I wanted to take it away from (him), so I’m going to use (him) as a prop. I took the cardboard out.
“I didn’t think Nate Robinson was going to let me use him. He said, ‘I want you to jump over me in person.’ So I did that.”
Green took off his uniform to reveal another Celtics jersey sporting Brown’s No. 7. He soared over Robinson and dunked as he tucked his face inside his bent arm, much the way Brown did when he won the Slam Dunk Contest as a member of the Celtics - and Reebok’s promotional team - 16 years ago.
“I wanted to show the respect and do everything the way he did,” Green said. “He went down and pumped the shoes up, and I tried the best to use his dunk in a different kind of way.”
That dunk was worth 47, putting Green in control entering the final round. After Robinson needed three tries to manage a 39, Green took a lob from behind the backboard from Pierce and dunked with two hands, receiving a 41.
Robinson needed 14 tries to complete his winning dunk a year ago, prompting a rule change that instituted a time limit. He needed 11 attempts this time to execute a reverse catch-off-the-backboard job for a 41.
For his final dunk, Green jumped over a three-foot high table placed in the middle of the lane and delivered a windmill, bringing a perfect score from the panel.
“(Jordan’s) one of the greatest dunkers of all time,” said Green, who won $35,000. “When you’ve got him judging you, it’s going to be tough.”
Robinson had his moments. In the first round, he bounced a pass to himself, caught it with one hand and rocked it slightly backward before ramming it home for a 45. On his next dunk, he soared and took the ball out of teammate David Lee’s hands before a half-spin two-handed jam.
The 6-11 Howard took a lob from teammate Jameer Nelson and dunked with his right hand while affixing a sticker to the backboard with his left. The sticker was about eight inches shy of the top of the backboard, about 12 feet, six inches off the floor.
Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas, who drew a $10,000 fine from the team for referring to his appearance here as “free money,” shredded the net with one of his first-round dunks, causing a slight delay. Thomas collected $16,125.