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One player who will not be part of the All-Star Weekend festivities is Gerry Wright, a 6'7" swingman for the Rockford Lightning of the CBA. Wright is known—well, sort of known—as Sir Jamalot, in recognition of his dunking ability in general and his signature "cartwheel" dunk in particular. It would have been a nice gesture if the NBA had invited Wright to compete in the slam-dunk contest on Feb. 9, if only to reward the CBA for the years it has fed talent to the NBA. After all, a Soviet player, Rimas Kurtinaitis, was invited to compete in the three-point shootout at the 1989 All-Star Game in Houston. (He finished last.)
Sir Jamalot last publicly performed his cartwheel dunk during last season's CBA All-Star festivities. The move is exactly what it sounds like. Wright, a southpaw, holds the ball in his left hand, takes a running start, goes into a cartwheel near the foul line and springs out of the cartwheel into a dunk, (WARNING: Don't try this at home.)
Wright's maneuver would have been a showstopper in Charlotte. But the league says it never considered inviting him to the contest, since it has enough trouble whittling down the list of NBA dunking worthies. Wilkins, Shawn Kemp of the Sonics, Kenny Smith of the Rockets, Rex Chapman and Kendall Gill of the Hornets, Otis Smith of the Magic, Dee Brown of the Celtics and Kenny Williams of the Pacers will be in this year's dunk field. Jordan decided to skip the competition.
Wright says he never had much hope of being asked to compete in Charlotte. "Sure, I would've liked to have been invited," he said. "The thrill, the competitive spirit of going against all those guys. But I'm not going to carry it around with me. Anyway, dunking might be the most exciting part of my game, but it's not the best part." Unfortunately for Jamalot, most NBA scouts do not agree, and he is considered a long shot to make The Show.
Ironically, Wright wasn't able to defend his CBA title because the league scrapped the slam-dunk contest in favor of a one-on-one tournament at its annual All-Star Game, held last Friday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
"It doesn't bother me, really," said Wright. "I'm ready to put all the dunking behind me, the cartwheel included. I'm not trying to be cocky or conceited, but, honestly, it's not that difficult of a dunk. Some of the things Jordan and Dominique do are much harder. Even I have better dunks."
CHANCE FOR REVENGE?
Should Detroit and Chicago meet in the Eastern Conference final for the third straight year, wouldn't it be ironic if Adrian Delano Dantley was a member of the Bulls? In the middle of the 1988-89 season, Piston general manager Jack McCloskey dealt Dantley to Dallas for Mark Aguirre, thus preventing AD from getting a championship ring. Dantley was deeply hurt by the trade and felt it was engineered by Detroit captain Isiah Thomas.
Now, Dantley, who will turn 35 on Feb. 28, is the most attractive of several unsigned veteran free agents ( Joe Barry Carroll, Gerald Henderson, Dennis Johnson and Purvis Short are some of the others) whose experience becomes valuable at this time of year, especially to contending teams. There is strong interest in AD in Chicago. The Bulls believe that his low-post offensive game might be just what they need to knock off the Pistons.