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Slam Dunk contest scoring raises plenty of questions

Posted: Monday February 20, 2006 8:08AM; Updated: Tuesday February 21, 2006 1:02PM
One of the few dunks Nate Robinson did complete (over Spud Webb) was enough to turn a Hawks fan's stomach.
One of the few dunks Nate Robinson did complete (over Spud Webb) was enough to turn a Hawks fan's stomach.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
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HOUSTON -- The Slam Dunk contest used to be the linchpin of the NBA's All-Star Weekend. The three-point contest was fun, the game was a blast, but the dunk contest was what had us all tuning in and staying home. What would Dominique do next? Could Jordan top it? And who was this Spud guy?

Then the dunk contest fell on hard times. A shot clock was instituted, then removed, Chris Andersen gave us a clue of his future issues, and who can forget the hellacious wheel of dunks?

This year I thought the dunk contest would be back. Josh Smith was brilliant last year, and his windmill in the Dominique jersey thrilled everyone and provided the lone highlight in an otherwise disastrous season for Hawks fans.

If you stayed home to watch on Saturday night, you'll know this year's contest didn't quite work out the same way. If you didn't see it, Smith put himself in a hole from the start, Andre Iguodala had the best dunk of the night, and Nate Robinson missed 14 dunks in a row at one point but won the contest.

It was a strange night all the way around, and for a Hawks fan like myself, it was nothing short of horrible, for several reasons:

1. Smith, who was already testy about being told to dunk last (he wanted to go first), put a strip of tape on the floor, then inexplicably jumped from a completely different spot about four feet to the right and two feet closer.

2. Later in the contest, Atlanta Hawks icon Spud Webb came out and allowed Robinson to jump over him and dunk. So basically, Spud got dunked on by Robinson. Spud has been invisible for a while, reportedly playing golf daily, and he was so unrecognizable from my seat across the floor that I initially thought Robinson had enlisted Emanuel "Webster" Lewis -- Spud Webster, perhaps. While it was fun seeing Spud re-emerge, it wasn't fun seeing a player from a different franchise use him as a prop to help win.

3. Finally, in the ultimate insult to Atlanta fans, as I was walking out of the arena I bumped into Phoenix forward Boris Diaw, who this season has gone from being a bit player with the Hawks to being a near triple double every night for the Phoenix Suns. He's a great guy, always friendly and smiling, but for Hawks fans he's a walking reminder of our bad luck, a human middle finger.

The story of the dunk contest, though, was the Iguodala/Robinson showdown, in which Robinson missed more than 20 total dunks and still won. Granted, Iguodala's made dunks weren't all that amazing, but at least he made them. And his off-the-back-of-the-backboard dunk was ridiculous. Robinson won, but it's not exaggerating to say there were plenty of boos hanging in the air during the trophy presentation.