After months of build up keyed by the LetShannonDunk campaign, Shannon Brown’s entrance into the 2010 Slam Dunk Contest ended faster than most expected on All-Star Saturday night in Dallas.
He of the 44.5-inch vertical leap had put Lakers fans on their feet so often in his calendar-year stint with the team thanks to a bevy of crazy slams that anything but a victory seemed unlikely.
In fact, while 1986 Slam Dunk Champ and 2010 judge Spud Webb hadn’t seen much of Brown himself, he had certainly heard the word.
“Everybody I talk to says, ‘That’s my favorite, that’s my favorite, that’s my favorite,” Webb said.
The event’s second dunker, Brown opened by running in from just beyond midcourt and taking off from in front of the left elbow for a huge 360, but surprised even himself by clanking the attempt off the rim. Participants have two full minutes to make a dunk, however, and Brown responded by rising high with the ball in his right hand before switching over at the last second to his left for the jam.
“After I missed the 360 I thought about doing it again, but I wanted to take off from a little bit further,” he said afterwards. “I decided to switch hands in the air. I looked at (the replay), it looked good still, but the judges gave me the score they gave me.”
That score was a 37, the lowest of the four participants that included eventual champion Nate Robinson (44), DeMar DeRozan (42) and Gerald Wallace (38).
For his second dunk, Brown called upon the assistance of former dunk champion Kobe Bryant, who tossed an alley-oop high into the air that Brown caught before hammering home a left-handed flush. Brown had hoped to cradle the ball downwards before bringing it back up, but it didn’t work out that way. He got a 41 for a total of 78, tying him with Wallace.
“(Kobe) was going to throw it up and I was supposed to catch it and bring it down, but when he threw it, I was so high that I just tried to lean in with it,” Brown explained.
It certainly wasn’t the result Brown had hoped for, but he quickly put things in perspective.
“There’s disappointment, but like I’ve been saying the whole time, I’m definitely blessed and honored to be able to participate,” he said. “Hopefully there will be a next time.”
Brown hinted that had he advanced to the final round – where Robinson beat out DeRozan for his third straight title – he had planned to use both Kobe and D.J. Mbenga, who was also in his Lakers warmups on the sideline: “I was just basically going to jump over them.”
The good news for Brown is that he gets to return to the league’s defending champion Lakers (41-13), who hold a 5.5 game lead over Denver in the Western Conference. He knows he can try to get some dunking revenge on the court, just not until he watches teammate Pau Gasol in Sunday’s All-Star game.
“I’m going to finish out this weekend, watch the game tomorrow and go dream about that, and just have a good time,” he concluded.