ALL-STAR FESTIVITIES LIGHT UP DENVER
The Bobcats had 2 players representing them in 3 out of the 4 main All-Star events. Emeka Okafor gets it started on the Friday night as he starts at PF for the Rookie Stars in the Rookie-Sophomore clash. Gerald Wallace will try to live up to his motor mouth in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night. Finally, Emeka Okafor will come off the bench for the Eastern Conference All-Stars on Sunday afternoon.
This was a tightly contested game with the favoured Sophomore Stars holding on to defeat the Rookie Stars 109-103. The game provided free-flowing basketball and many high-flying dunks. However, there was a scary moment for Orlando fans as rookie Dwight Howard took a hard knock and limped off in the 3rd. Howard did return and his injury is considered that serious. Chris Bosh ended up taking MVP honours as he chalked up 17pts, 8rebs and 5blks. Emeka Okafor led all scorers with 21pts and 10rebs.
Okafor gets a strong applause from the Denver crowd.
Dwight Howard puts a scare through Magic fans as he limps off, supported by fellow rookies Okafor (left) and Nocioni (right).
No one can wipe the cheesy grin off Chris Bosh's face as earns more silverware for the cabinet as he tries to overcome a disappointing sophomore season in Toronto.
SLAM DUNK CONTEST
Gerald Wallace promised to surprise the world with his slam dunk brilliance in the Dunk Contest. Gerald Wallace couldn't match his words as he failed to complete one successful dunk.
In what is considered one of the weaker fields in slam dunk contest history, the favourites for this event are Steve Francis and Gerald Wallace.
Gerald Wallace stepped up to the plate first and failed at his attempt to do a double between the legs. He only scored a 25 for his efforts.
Steve Francis put up a solid tomahawk dunk with a twist and scored a respectable 41. Al Harrington tossed one off the shot clock that got him a 50. With his first dunk Quentin Richardson scored a strong 47 as he tossed the ball to himself and finished it with style.
Realising it would probably be his last dunk of the contest after the blown first dunk, Wallace tried to do something special. Wallace started at half court, threw a long lob which bounced off the backboard, and whilst the ball was in the air, Wallace started to do a couple of cartwheels and go up for the finisher. THe nearly impossible dunk did not pull off due to bad timing. Wallace had about 10 seconds to get off a successful dunk, so he re-tried his first dunk, but it clanged off the ring, and Wallace hung his head in shame as he will never live this contest down. The judges took pity again as they handed out another score of 25.
The contest had hit its lowest point, but it all changed next dunk when Stevie Franchise put up a perfect 50, followed by Al Harrington doing the same. That left Q needing a 45 to move through to the final round to face Al. Q lobbed the ball, went up, got it and threw down a hard jam, and hung from his elbow. One of the best dunks you'll ever see as it combined a few different dunks from previous contests. Richardson scored a perfect 50 for this dunk and moved on to the final round.
The first round ended like this:
In an unbelievable display, both Quentin Richardson and Al Harrington put up perfect 50s with BOTH of their final round dunks. This led to an unbelievable situation where a tiebreaker dunk would decide the 2005 Slam Dunk Champion.
Quentin Richardson went first, proceeded to the free throw line, and stopped. He turned around to face the opposing basket, and bounced the ball backwards between his legs. He spun around, caught the ball and threw down a solid dunk. Nothing special like the 7 previous dunks that the crowd had seen, but solid nonetheless. This dunk score Q a 43.
With the way he had been dunking (4 straight perfect 50s), a 44 should have been pretty simple for the Hawks star. However, the pressure got to him. He failed to catch a ball toss in his first try at the dunk. In desperation, and seemingly out of fresh ideas, he did the unthinkable. He copied Q's between the legs bounce and dunk. The dunk was slightly different, and probably as good as Richardson's. However, it was unoriginal, and he only scored a 40 on it.
Here you go folks, please give it up for your 2005 Slam Dunk Champion, Quentin Richardson
EASTERN CONFERENCE SQUAD
This is quite an inexperienced team with six of the them making their first All-Star appearance (James, Hinrich, Okafor, Harrington, Davis & Hamilton). Shaq returns to the East All-Star team for the first time since he left for the Lakers, and Vince Carter continues to start every year.
WESTERN CONFERENCE SQUAD
As with the East's squad, this team has many first timers as well (Lewis, Boozer, Anthony, Miller & Gasol). Garnett and Duncan once again make the team, but this time Duncan has to come off the bench.
This game was blow-out city baby. The Western Conference once again proved they are the best as they easily beat the Eastern Conference 132-100. Emeka Okafor played 8 minutes and had 4 points and 3 rebounds. Like Howard did on Friday night, Okafor tweaked his ankle in the third quarter. However, Bobcats' medical staff reveal that it was only a minor tweak, and Okafor will not miss any games.
Kevin Garnett (West) 24pts, 15rebs, 6blks (MVP)
Shaquille O'Neal (East) 16pts, 12rebs, 5blks
Lebron James (East) 17pts, 6rebs, 6asts
Ray Allen (West) 27pts
This has to be a scary moment for any Bobcats' fan as Okafor hobbles off the court.
Kevin Garnett and the West were simply too much on the day for the East
I hope you all enjoyed the All-Star coverage.....