The crown of the high wire act was sought out by Andre Igoudala, Nate Robinson, Hakim Warrick, and returning champion Josh Smith. The format for this year’s slam off was two rounds. Included in the first round was a component where each dunker had to incorporate a teammate into their second dunk. The second round was a dunk off between the two top scorers from the first round in a two-dunk combination winner takes all. Seems pretty straightforward right, well not exactly.
The first round saw nothing spectacular from Hakim Warrick or Josh Smith. Both men did average dunks and it was obvious that it was going to come down between Robinson and Igoudala. Igoudala’s second dunk in the round got me up and out of my seat. With Allen Iverson tossing the ball for him. The AI tandem did something totally original and incredible. Iverson bounced the ball off the back of the backboard and Igoudala came from out of bounds, exploded from the baseline, caught the ball off the backside of the glass, floated to the side of the goal with the rim, scraped his eyebrow on the backboard, and slammed it down! It was a simply awesome flush.
Not to be upstaged, the 5’9” Robinson came back with two dunks of his own in the first round worthy of many rewinds on the DVR. First, he came out swinging with a teardrop pass off the floor, which he finished by doing a 360 degree-two handed-rim rocking cram. The second dunk was just as spectacular. With Quentin Richardson throwing an underhand pass to the right side of the rim. Robinson corralled the alley-oop, cocked it back, spread his legs, and threw it down over his head. At this point, I felt the little man from the Knicks had it clicking on all cylinders. After regrouping, I realized that there was still the second round to come.
Both men started round two off with a bang. Igoudala would put the ball around his back and slam it home. Evidently, the judges were more impressed than I was because they rewarded Igoudala with a perfect 50. Robinson would call on the best sub six-foot dunker of all-time for incorporation into his act. With Spud coming down from his seat in the stands and putting on one of his old Atlanta Hawks jerseys. Robinson would ask him not only to stand in front of the charge semi-circle, but to also throw him an alley-oop pass. What would happen next was the best yam of the night. Nate came running from the half court line, exploded off the floor, spread his legs, cleared Spud, caught the bounce pass, and brought the house down with a perfect 50 to match Igoudala.
The second dunks of the second round were just as incredible as the first. The men would each do an earth-shattering dunk, but this time the scores would be fixed by the judges and subsequently a dunk-off would ensue. The fiasco included the judges looking at each other to coordinate the matching scores.
Igoudala was out of tricks at this point and possibly a little bit stiff after Nate Robinson would need almost 15 tries for his next dunk. Robinson did a figure eight with the ball between his legs in mid-air, tossed the ball off the glass, and spiked it through the net! The best Igoudala could do was try to match that with a baseline slam where he put the ball through his legs. The between the legs is a little played out after five or six years and numerous stars doing the aforementioned dunk in real games. This allowed the judges to once again collaborate and award the win to Robinson. This judging scandal overshadows what could have been the best contest since the turn of the millennium.
Taking nothing away from Igoudala because he did do the most original dunk of the night. He was just lacking in that special stage presence that Robinson was thriving on. Everything that the little man did was jaw dropping. I felt that he was the best dunker in the show, its just too bad that the judges had to ruin this one with their early 50 mark to Igoudala and then the travesty of fair and unbiased judging that was to follow. Congrats to Nate Robinson and thanks for the show.