A little-known NBA player, a record-setting night for one player, and another player who’s been dreaming of this since he was a kid were the stars of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
The Taco Bells Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest and Verizon Slam Dunk Contest – arguably the REAL stars of the NBA All-Star Weekend – did not disappoint.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge Champion – Spencer Dinwiddie – Brooklyn Nets
“It’s big for me to even be at All-Star Weekend considering the road that’s been in my career, very up and down,” said Dinwiddie. “Obviously being in the G League both on assignment and as a G-League player, thank you to the Brooklyn Nets for giving me this opportunity to play and be here.”
Dinwiddie, who grew up in LA, said he was happy he got to “come home and win in front of my family.”
And on having to be skilled in all different facets of the game to win the Skills Championship Dinwiddie said, “I think that’s one of the marks of my game is being able to affect the game in multiple ways, whether it be passing, defending or scoring.”
JBL Three-Point Contest – Devin Booker – Phoenix Suns
Booker, who placed third in this same competition last year during his rookie season, set a record for most points in the championship round of the event with 28. He beat Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (25 points) and Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris (17 points).
He made 20-of-25 three-pointers in the final round to win the event for the first time in his career.
After last night’s win he recalled telling Suns fans he was going to come back and win it and bring the trophy home to Phoenix. “I’m really excited about it. I always said I always want to represent the city the best I can, with the support they’ve always shown for me since day one.”
“The season is not going how we planned but I know a lot of the city was ready for this All-Star Weekend and having somebody participate,” Booker said. “I’m glad I could win it.”
Booker said he did not truly prepare for the contest. “My preparation was none. My rookie year I stayed at the gym extra, shot off the rack a lot more. this time I just got here, practiced right before I went out there and ended up coming out with the win.”
Verizon Slam-Dunk Championship – Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
“Believe it or not, I’ve been preparing for this since I was a kid,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell won the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night, with two of his four dunks earning a perfect score from the judges.
He began by bringing out another hoop to throw an alley-oop to himself; then for his second dunk, he chose to dunk over people. He brought out his sister and comedian Kevin Hart. He scored a perfect 50 on the dunk.
Going up against the Cavalier’s Larry Nance Jr. for the win, Mitchell changed into a Vince Carter jersey for his final dunk of the night and paid homage to the Dunk Contest legend.
“Growing up I was a big dunker, I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos,” he said. “I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.”
“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year,” he said. “I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. So to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”
Photos: Dorothy J. Gentry