How to Win in Vegas
Posted: Tuesday February 13, 2007 9:29AM; Updated: Tuesday February 13, 2007 5:35PM
The most compelling NBA competitions this weekend will unfold the night before Sunday's All-Star Game in Las Vegas -- at the slam-dunk contest, three-point shootout and skills challenge. Former champs reveal the secrets to outballing the rest. -- Ben Reiter
THE WAY I DID IT, BY BRENT BARRY
"I had lunch with Charles Barkley before going over to the Alamodome in San Antonio," says Barry , who won the slam-dunk contest in 1996. "If you want good luck, have lunch with Chuck. Just don't watch him eat."
"I kept my warm-up top on. I was going to take it off to show a T-shirt that read WHITE MEN CAN JUMP, but at the last minute I decided that would be too much. When people ask why I had my warm-up on, I say I was cold."
"I didn't let the one-dunker-at-a-time format get me down. It stinks. They should make it like a layup line. Everyone at mid-court, going one by one. After three minutes the judges pick the two best guys and they dunk off. You'd have more fun that way. Guys would loosen up."
"I stayed humble. That weekend I got checked for my I.D. at the hotel at least a half-dozen times by the same security guy. After I won the dunk competition on Saturday, he still checked me! I enjoyed that, I really did."
TIPS FROM THE TOPS
Start slow "Open up strong, but make sure you go for a dunk you can make. Set the stage for yourself. Then, pull out the big-time stuff at the end." -- Desmond Mason, 2001 champ
Start fast "I wanted to make sure I had a lead. I liked the intimidation factor -- that you come out and do these dunks and people say, 'Whoa, what can he possibly do next?'" -- Vince Carter, 2000 champ
Wing it "My first year I didn't prepare a whole lot, and just worked off the crowd and won it. Last year I had all this stuff planned and none of it worked out." -- Josh Smith, 2005 champ
Prepare "It has to be done ahead of time. Last year I got Spud Webb [the 1986 winner, to work with me] in the practice gym for 20 minutes before the contest." -- Nate Robinson, 2006 champ
Talk to Arenas "Gilbert comes up with crazy ideas. He wanted me to do a dunk nobody else could do. He would say something outrageous, and I would try to do it my own way. I got a lot of my ideas from him." -- Jason Richardson, 2002 and '03 champ
Warm-ups don't matter "I could barely dunk in practice. But you get out in front of the fans, you get that adrenaline going and you jump a lot higher." -- Fred Jones, 2004 champ
Know your limits "My hands have since grown, but at the time I couldn't palm the ball. I couldn't do stuff that Mike [Jordan] and Doc [Dr. J] and those guys used to do. I couldn't take off from the free throw line. I just had to cup the ball and do what I had been doing since high school." -- Kobe Bryant, 1997 champ
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