NEW ORLEANS -- As John Wall looked around the All-Star field after practice, he'd only previously known DeMar DeRozan from the AAU circuit. After Saturday night, the two will have something else in common: The dunk contest. Wall, a first-time All-Star, is competing in his first one. DeRozan, a rival with the Toronto Raptors in the East and a first-time All-Star, too, has done it twice without success.
And DeRozan has an argument that he was jobbed both times. In 2010 in Los Angeles, DeRozan was short-changed against Nate Robinson who won his second in a row. In 2011, Blake Griffin beat out JaVale McGee, a Wizards center at the time, by jumping over the hood of a car in the final. DeRozan was eliminated in the early round of that contest by Griffin, but it probably should've been a DeRozan vs. McGee final.
"I thought I should've won but things happen. It was fun while I did it, to be honest," DeRozan said Saturday after a light walkthrough that was called practice. "To be part of that whole experience, trying to make oohs and ahhs from thousands of people watching. There's no better feeling. I still feel like I came out of it with a win because you're still going out there entertaining and people know who won."
Wall sees to not have any jitters about Saturday's showcase. He didn't really practice until he got to New Orleans on Friday and said he made all of his most difficult dunks on the first attempt. Wall was selected by coaches as a reserve to the All-Star Game. To get to that next level of popularity, being voted in by the fans as a starter, begins with the dunk contest.
"It definitely puts you out there because you're on the platform for everybody to see and if you do something spectacular they're going to run with it and still talk about it today," DeRozan said. "People still ask me if I think I won that year. Obviously, I did something right."
DeRozan has long said he's done with dunk contests after losing out to Griffin, but he'd consider it for 2016 when the All-Star Game will be played in Toronto.
"I think I'm done," he said. "I might do it when it go back to Toronto just for our fans -- if our fans want to see me in it."