11:26 p.m.: On a night when the NBA Sprite Slam Dunk contest needed saving, John Wall did his level best. Wall might not have been able to save an atrocious format entirely, but he at least gave fans something to talk about besides the awful system at the water cooler on Monday.
Wall’s reverse double-pump between-the-legs dunk after grabbing the ball from the Washington Wizards mascot won the contest for the Eastern Conference and gave Wall the individual crown, courtesy of Twitter.
Of course, Wall and Paul George, the two best dunkers, never got a chance to face off, because the weird conference-vs.-conference format didn’t allow for two East dunkers to be in the finals. It was as dumb as it sounds, all the way around.
But, hey, check out some of the highlights from the night and some hilarious reaction from around the Internet to a night that should be forgotten as soon as possible.
11:16 p.m.: John Wall and Paul George, take a bow. You’ve given us dunks worth holding a contest for.
Ben McLemore, you’ve officially clowned yourself for the rest of your long, most likely illustrious NBA career. Sorry.
George busted out a reverse 360-degree masterpiece in the second round that nobody seemed to realize was insane until after it was shown on replay. Seriously, look at this thing.
The messed-up format will be the talk of this year’s dunk contest, but McLemore’s get-up will be the side topic. Somehow, Shaq convinced McLemore to dress up like the Burger King and then dunk over a throne Shaq was sitting in.
The dunk was pretty sweet. The crown, the robe and the jester (or whatever he was supposed to be) were, uh, not.
[tweet https://twitter.com/BenjeeBallgame/status/434902843011899392 align=’center’]
It resulted in this. While cool, the dunk was not enough to overshadow the entrance. Seriously, B-Mac. A robe?
[tweet https://twitter.com/SacramentoKings/status/434910392142151680 align=’center’]
But Wall stole the show with one of the better dunks this showcase has featured in years. Jumping over the mascot, double-pumping between his legs and throwing down a reverse jam? Check, check and check.
Congrats, John. You’re on your way to a slam dunk title.
11:04 p.m.: Nothing matters until Drake shows up. Oh, wait, he’s here.
Drake, who is the Toronto Raptors’ No. 1 fan, apparently, arrived with Ross’ dunk contest trophy from last season and held a ball for Ross to grab and dunk. It was pretty academic, but it was enough for Ross to advance, I guess.
In case you’re even less hip than I am and don’t know who Drake is, he’s this guy:
[tweet https://twitter.com/lukezim/status/434900513419972608 align=’center’]
We said this format was a mess, and we weren’t kidding. Honestly, there was a pretty sick dunk by Ben McLemore …
… that got completely lost in the shuffle of the dumb “freestyle” format.
10:55 p.m.: Some pretty cool dunks went down in the first round, including this doozy by Damian Lillard:
The problem is, the weird “freestyle” format is confusing everyone. The crowd doesn’t seem to understand that the contest has started. Players are just sort of milling around, dunking randomly.
Here’s just a sampling of what Twitter has to say about this absolute mess of a dunk contest:
[tweet https://twitter.com/JoeBudden/status/434897003018211328 align=’center’]
(Yes, that’s the rapper, Joe Budden.)
[tweet https://twitter.com/FisolaNYDN/status/434898611449495552 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/mdotbrown/status/434897770672308224 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/chrstphr_/status/434897727483564032 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/iHateJJRedick/status/434897476697337857 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/WallaceNBA_ESPN/status/434898070061719552 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/BenjeeBallgame/status/434897478136397824 align=’center’]
10:25 p.m.: So, this is happening.
Music artist Kendrick Lamar is performing at “halftime” of NBA All-Star Saturday night as New Orleans gears up for the dunk contest. I can’t say whether it was good or bad. I stopped being the target audience for musical acts at sporting events long ago.
[tweet https://twitter.com/NBA/status/434891895806783488 align=’center’]
10:17 p.m.: Nelly was really impressed by Beal. Unfortunately for both of them, one has-been rapper’s opinion wasn’t enough to overshadow a ridiculous shooting performance by Belinelli.
The Italian sharpshooter dropped an insane 24 in his final round, an overtime thriller after he and Beal tied what should have been their final rounds. Every once in a while, these guys remind you that they are damn good at their jobs. Belinelli just did that.
Still, Nelly’s sticking with Team Beal.
10:05 p.m.: Bradley Beal just shot himself into the lead, but before that, Joe Johnson made a series of the dumbest decisions in the 3-point shootout.
Players get a choice of where to place their “all-moneyball” rack this year. Logic dictates you’d pick one of the corners, where the shot is closer to the hoop. Everybody did just that, until Johnson.
Not only did Johnson put his all-moneyball rack on the wing, he also assured he wouldn’t come close to finishing his round by going slooooooowwwwwwly. Time expired before he even got to the last rack.
[tweet https://twitter.com/Pflanns/status/434884272432750593 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/HPbasketball/status/434884537404129280 align=’center’]
[tweet https://twitter.com/soconnor76/status/434884472056860674 align=’center’]
Johnson scored an 11 and didn’t advance.
Marco Belinelli and Beal are in the finals. Unfortunately for everybody, Nick Cannon just won’t go away. Can someone at least take his microphone?
[tweet https://twitter.com/mdotbrown/status/434884224878116864 align=’center’]
9:44 p.m.: The 3-point shootout just started, which is cool, because this event is actually neat to watch. In the meantime, apparently the NBA on TNT crew held a competition of various sports earlier in the night, and it included soccer.
Except, this happened:
That’s Kenny Smith, indirectly nailing a kid in the noggin with a soccer ball after a beauty of a kick-save by the goalie. Check out Shaquille O’Neal flinching and Chris Webber immediately cracking up.
9:30 p.m.: Trey Burke can play ball a little bit. Most people don’t get much opportunity to watch him play, since the Utah Jazz are on TV about as often as they deserve to be, which is close to never. But the rookie point guard has some skills.
It only makes sense, then, that he would thrive in the “skills” competition. After Damian Lillard had a rough start, Burke picked up the slack and zoomed though the obstacle course to give him and Lillard the title. The Lillard/Burke duo won with a time of 45.2 seconds, besting Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams by one-tenth of a secon.
9:18 p.m.: Karl Malone never won a championship, but if you had to pick one former NBA player to have your back in a bar fight, The Mailman is a no-brainer.
During the Shooting Stars contest, he missed his first halfcourt shot attempt — long. He’s so beefed up, his deltoids were almost bursting out of his short-sleeved shooting shirt.
Jody Genessy, who covers the Utah Jazz, related this excellent quote from Malone in New Orleans:
[tweet https://twitter.com/DJJazzyJody/status/434874404221104128 align=’center’]
9:00 p.m.: Haterz gonna hate, CB.
[tweet https://twitter.com/crossoverNBA/status/434869850855337986 align=’center’]
Bosh, Wilkins and Cash walk off with their second straight Sears Shooting Stars championship. Yet another ring to go on Bosh’s mantel. I’m guessing they get rings, right?
8:57 p.m.: Oops.
There are a lot of people competing and a lot of stuff going on tonight, so it’s going to be tough to keep track of everybody’s names and faces. Still, it shouldn’t be too hard to tell Elena Della Donne from Sklar Diggins.
Except, this happened:
[tweet https://twitter.com/TimBontemps/status/434867727690240000 align=’center’]
Groan. In case you’re not plugged into what’s hot in the WNBA, Della Donne is the 6-foot-5 center for the Chicago Sky who played her college ball at Delaware. Diggins is a 5-foot-9 point guard for the Tulsa Shock who played at Notre Dame.
Anyway, once they got the names straightened out, Della Donne and the two Tim Hardaways (junior and season) were bounced in the first, just before Chris Bosh, Swin Cash and Dominique Wilkins advanced. Team Bosh is the defending champ, so their experience will surely translate in the final round. Maybe.
8:40 p.m.: In case hours of waiting to watch people dunk basketballs wasn’t bad enough, Nick Cannon has showed up. Apparently, he will be the host of tonight’s events, which start with the Shooting Stars competition.
Dell Curry, Stephen Curry and Becky Hammon got things started, followed by Karl Malone, Skylar Diggins and Kevin Durant.
Still, though. Nick Cannon.
8:24 p.m.: As we’ve mentioned, the dunk contest gets a few tweaks this year. And by “tweaks” we mean “massive changes to the entire scoring system, layout and goal” of the competition. It’s going to be a bit different.
[tweet https://twitter.com/GotEm_Coach/status/434860760477360129 align=’center’]
Sorry to break the news, my man, but Kevin Hart’s already gotten his mitts on All-Star Saturday night. So what’s the next frontier now? Romantic comedy?
7:54 p.m.: We’re closing in on the start of NBA All-Star Saturday night. The skills competition and the 3-point contest precede the main event, the Sprite Slam Dunk.
We’ll bring you some of the highlights from the night via videos, GIFs and tweets. But for now, let defending slam dunk champ Terrence Ross welcome you to the show.
[tweet https://twitter.com/NBA/status/434852911265628160 align=’center’]
10 a.m. ET: There’s a major change to the NBA Sprite Slam Dunk contest this year — but it has nothing to do with the rules.
For the first time since 1988, three All-Stars will participate in the event. Paul George, Damian Lillard and John Wall will show off their hops in the most star-studded slam dunk competition since Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler squared off in Chicago.
However, the bump in fan interest that should come with more recognizable names in the dunking field might be offset by some weird new rules.
Players won’t compete for individual slam-dunk supremacy for judges anymore. Instead, each conference has a three-dunker team that will have a dunk-off, with the East or West claiming the title. Fans will then vote for which player was the top dunker. So while Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross is competing after winning last year’s crown, he’s not exactly the “defending champ,” at least not under the same rules that were in place for his first slam-dunk title.
Hey, even if the system doesn’t make any sense, at least the dunks should be entertaining.
Check out the field of competitors below.
While you watch the dunk contest, join us for a roundup of the best GIFs, videos and tweets relating to the contest, which launches at 8 p.m.