This weekend is Blake’s weekend, it’s his party, everyone else is just invited. And tonight will cap off one of the best rookie weekends in history when Blake plays in his very first All Star Game.
First let’s recap:
Blake (and Bledsoe) played in the Rookie Sophomore Challenge for only 14 minutes, but still dunking 7 times for all of his points while being on the receiving end of the game’s most iconic moment: the John Wall bounce pass alley-oop to Blake Griffin reverse slam. Didn’t see it? Here it is.
The following night, Blake revives the dunk contest, although no where near singled handedly. I think the interest in Blake is what propelled the contestants to elevate their level of play, but DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee all showed up and had as good, if not better dunks than the hometown hero.
Serge swooped from the free throw line for his fist and on his second he plucked a rim height toy with his teeth before throwing down. DeRozan had the side of the backboard, between the legs alley oop and the bounce pass “ShowStopper” scoop and slam. JaVale may have wanted to do his dunks in a different order, but he had his first was two backboards next to each other and he dunked a ball in both hoops. For the second round, he dunked two balls at once, and while still in the air, he caught a third ball for the slam (my favorite of the night). He didn’t let up in his first dunk in the finals either, where he had an under the rim, Dr. J inspired rock the cradle while blindly going away from the rim and tweaking his neck so he wouldn’t bludgeon his head on the backboard dunk. Unfortunately for JaVale, his worst dunk was his last, right after Blake had the alley-oop from Baron in the sunroof while jumping over the hood of the car, almost hitting his head on the rim and then slamming it home. Hard to come back from that.
Yes, it was a good night for basketball.
Blake also had a Vince Carter inspired lob off the glass and dunked the ball to his elbow in the finals, an homage and extension of Vince Carter’s iconic dunk in 2000. In the first round he had a 360 behind the head jam and a side of the back board alley oop jam that probably was bit overscored because of what he was trying to do earlier in his two minutes: a side of the back board oop to a twisting 270 reverse jam. Had he done it, the whole place would have exploded. And strangely, when he did a simpler dunk, it’s like the magic of that first attempt was so great that it carried his score over, leading him into the finals to eventually win.
Blake’s dunks in order:
Everyone was writing on the dunk contest, notably there was John Hollinger, the Kamenetzkys, old friend Kevin Arnovitz and Blake himself, but regardless of whether someone thought that DeRozan or Ibaka were shorted, no one argued against the overall impressiveness of the dunks. This was the best dunk contest since Vince Carter in 2000.
Which is why this All Star Game suddenly matters. If there has been anything realized it’s that Blake, in his “home town,” has energized the entire All Star Weekend to the point that everyone cares about everything he’s in. It’s not just that he’s good, it’s not just that he’s entertaining, but that he takes every single competition seriously. And since it’s on his turf, you better believe that there is going to be some competition tonight. I still doubt that it’ll translate into defense, not only does Blake not do that, but the All Star Game isn’t known for that, but I still think it’s going to be a much more entertaining All Star Game than there has been in years.