Tamika Post Shooting Stars
HOUSTON -- Last week, when Atlanta played at Dallas, Hawks TV analyst and NBA legend Dominique Wilkins got to talking about this year's dunk contest and his days as the game's dunker supreme. But then he stopped to make a point. He scored more than 26,000 points in the NBA and not all of them, he said emphatically, came on dunks.
"Now they see what I'm saying," Wilkins said with a big smile after he made two halfcourt shots to lead Team Bosh (East) over Team Westbrook (West) to capture the Sears Shooting Stars Championship. Of course, who knows how many of his 26,668 points -- good for 11th on the NBA's all-time scoring list -- came from 47 feet.
Wilkins, representing the legend on Team Bosh, which also included Miami's Chris Bosh and WNBA star Swin Cash beat out Eastern Conference teammates Team Lopez, which included Nets center Brook Lopez, 5-foot-3 legend Muggsy Bogues and WNBA star Tamika Catchings to advance to the championship round. Team Bosh closed the first round in 50 seconds thanks to Wilkins' bomb, while Team Lopez struggled to a time of 1:07.
The Western Conference's Team Westbrook was led by Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and included seven-time NBA champ Robert "Big Shot" Horry -- who won two titles with the host Rockets. However, their path to the championship round was paved by the WNBA's Maya Moore. She quickly knocked down the halfcourt shot to end their round in 29.5 seconds, easily the best round of the competition.
They beat out Team Harden, led by Houston's James Harden, Horry's former championship teammate Sam Cassell and former four-time WNBA champ with the old Houston Comets, Tina Thompson. They finished the first round in 37.9 seconds, the second-best round of the event.
The Shooting Stars competition requires the three competitors on each team to hit various shots on the floor in the least amount of time: from the elbow area at the top corner of the key, 3-pointers from the wing and the corner, a baseline jumper and finally a halfcourt heave.
Team Bosh went first in the championship round and it didn't look good, as none of the three could nail the halfcourt shot. Finally, Wilkins did it again and ended the round in a time of 1:29. Not a great time, but, hey, making a halfcourt shot isn't easy. Just ask Wilkins, who said he hasn't played any kind of basketball in more than 10 years.
How long had it been since The Human Highlight Film even just shot around?
"A long time," Wilkins said, stretching out the 'o' in long.
Westbrook nearly won the championship round twice but consecutive halfcourt shots rattled in and out, the first coming 40 seconds into the round. As the clock raced over a minute, Westbrook, Horry and Moore kept misfiring, some shots closer than others. Finally, Horry's attempt as the clock ticked down on 1:29 bounced off the rim and that was it.
The man who delivered the two-handed windmill jam to the NBA, walked away with the Shooting Stars title thanks two a couple of halfcourt heaves. As the NBA slogan went back in 'Nique's day: Gotta love this game.
-- Jeff Caplan