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2009 NBA D-League Slam Dunk Contest
by: Jim Hlavac, Richard Walker
February 18, 2009
The NBA D-League held its annual slam dunk contest last Friday night in Phoenix, Arizona. The '09 incarnation brought us an epic battle between the Anaheim Arsenal's James White and the Tulsa 66ers' Keith Clark. You may remember James "Flight" White from his college days at Cincinnati, the high price paid for him on draft night, or his stint with the San Antonio Spurs in 2006-07. Clark, however, is not as well known. He decided to play in the D-League after being declared academically ineligible at Oklahoma. He is following the path of the Los Angeles Clippers' Mike Taylor and will be eligible for the 2009 NBA Draft -- which makes him of particular interest to us here at DraftExpress.

Also making its debut from the D-League Dunk Contest is a new type of video we're tentatively dubbing DX-Mo. Let us know what you think.

James White Dunk #1

White led off the contest with a dunk from the free throw line. What made this dunk great is that he actually took off from behind the free throw line unlike many of his predecessors including this 1988 contest winner where Michael Jordan’s whole foot is inside the free throw line. How White’s dunk only got a 48 from the judges is mind-blowing.

On the other hand, the crowd was so impressed that the announcer deemed the contest already over, and it was only dunk one.



Keith Clark Dunk #1

While James White is a freak athlete who primarily jumps off of one foot, Keith Clark tends to jump off of two feet, leading each of them to completely different styles and making the contest more interesting. He introduced himself to the basketball world, and draft-hungry NBA GMs, by tossing the ball off the backboard, grabbing it and throwing down a big windmill. The judges scored it a 45.



James White Dunk #2

For White’s second dunk, he again displayed his long jumping abilities taking off from about three feet from inside the line, but added a two-handed windmill to the end of it. The judges scored it a 42.



Keith Clark Dunk #2

To make the final round, Clark just had to make his second dunk due to multiple misses by Iowa’s Othyus Jeffers and defending champion Brent Petway of Idaho. Instead of being conservative, Clark had teammate Gary Forbes throw the ball off the side of the backboard as he grabbed it, cocked it back and threw it down so hard that he had a crash landing.

Clark admitted afterwards that this was the first dunk contest he had ever participated in.

“I really never worked on any of them. [Gary Forbes and I] were just sitting there thinking about dunks and the side of the backboard just came out and it looked good,” said Clark after the contest.

Unfortunately our angle doesn’t do this dunk justice as the judges gave Clark a perfect 50.



James White Dunk #3

White had the lower combined score in the first round so he had to lead off the final round. White had Albuquerque’s Will Conroy sit in a chair outside of the key and toss the ball up. White then leapt over Conroy and slammed it home for a perfect 50. It was Conroy’s best pass of the year, but mostly because it wasn’t a turnover. (Not to pick on Conroy, he’s a DraftExpress favorite, but he is averaging 4.3 turnovers per game this season…)



Keith Clark Dunk #3

With White leading off with a perfect score, the dunk contest rookie Clark had to come up with something big, and once again called on Forbes for the assist. Forbes threw the ball from out of bounds and Clark caught it, went between his legs and then added a windmill. You definitely need the DX-Mo to see everything he does on this perfect 50 dunk.



James White Dunk #4

With White down to his final attempt, he returned to his bread and butter – the long distance dunk. He started at the other end and jumped from just inside the free throw line, managing not just to dunk it, but to throw in a windmill for good measure. The judges again gave White a perfect 50 and all that was left was Clark’s final attempt.



Keith Clark’s magical dunking debut finally came to an end as he missed both dunk attempts on his final turn.

Afterwards, the champion White complimented Clark. “He did some nice dunks. He gave me a run for my money.”

“I just wanted to come out here and have fun,” said White afterwards. He wasn’t the only one who had fun as the show thrilled the crowd and players alike.

The only thing left to decide is how White would have fared in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Maybe next year the Friday night D-League champion should take on the big boys Saturday night.
 
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Feedback for this article may be sent to jim.hlavac1@draftexpress.com richard.walker@draftexpress.com .

 

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