ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Crunch, mascot for the Minnesota TImbers gives a ride on a motorcycle to Derrick Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest part of 2012 NBA All-Star Weekend at Amway Center on February 25, 2012 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Many people will side on NBA basketball being superior to college basketball. The opposite is also true, but Arizona Wildcats fans probably will at least take a look at the box scores as their favorite players head to the professional ranks.
The Wildcats' tradition was well-represented this weekend for the 2012 NBA All-Star activities in Orlando. Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams made up half of the field in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest and though the majority would say it was one of the worst competitions in history -- perhaps there was a little too much showmanship going on -- at least it was in good taste, unlike the weekend's god-awful halftime shows that included Flo Rida, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull.
** If anything we learned that autotune exists for a reason. Add in the fact that the NBA made a really clear mistake in repping Chris Brown, and we're left wondering if it'd be considered an improvement if David Stern would go with an old-school approach to the entertainment lineup -- Rolling Stones, anyone? **
Williams and Andre Iguodala participated in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge and the All-Star game respectively, and at least made us realize that Arizona is still acting as a farm system of sorts for the league.
This weekend was all about dunks from former Wildcats. While Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans came away with a underwhelming victory in an underwhelming dunk contest, there were still some gems and well-prepared dunks from the former Wildcats.
Budinger started off the night with a tribute to "White Men Can't Jump," donning the backwards baseball cap a la Woody Harrelson's Billy Hoyle character. And who else to dunk over than P. Diddy, right? Biggest props on this one goes to Diddy for throwing a perfectly-timed pass above his head, and also to Chase for getting it right on the first try.
Budinger's creativity was never more present than on his second dunk, going back 20 years to the last All-Star weekend in Orlando and replicating then-Phoenix Suns forward Cedric Ceballos' blindfolded dunk.
This was like Nate Robinson paying homage to Muggsy Bogues a few years back -- kind of odd to see NBA players put on another team's jersey -- and Budinger even got a little style points by making it a reverse jam. Based on the look on his face afterward, I actually believe he couldn't see anything. I'm sure the Rockets' management was also relieved he didn't fall on his face on the landing or hit is head on the rim.
Williams' first dunk came with some showmanship as well. He rode onto the floor on the back of a motorcycle driven by Crunch, the Minnesota Timberwolves' mascot. It took him three tries to finish a windmill dunk over the motorcycle parked in the lane, but considering he took off at the dotted line of the circle, not too shabby.
The best attempt from the rookie came from a pass from Ricky Rubio. This one reminded you of Iguodala's dunk a few years back, when he took a pass off the side of a backboard, went diagonally under the rim for a reverse jam. Ask around, and you'll believe it when people say Iguodala got robbed in that 2006 dunk contest.
Considering Iguodala is really a freak of nature, that's a little too much to ask for. So Williams decided on a 360 catch and jam on the near-side of the rim. Still good stuff.
Finally, we get to the All-Star game, where Iguodala quietly scored 12 points in 14 minutes of playing time. One of his six made shots was this steal and left-handed windmill.
By the way, people often forget how good this guy is. Labeled a bit of a disappointment after he didn't develop into your usual franchise-level player, Iggy is leading the young and upstart Philadelphia 76ers to a lot of wins this year. While he's not going to be a superstar in the league, the development of his jumper this season has really taken his game to another level.
Yeah, his 12.4 points per game isn't impressive, but considering his freakish stats elsewhere (5.3 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game) he shouldn't go this under the radar. Luckily, he got that All-Star recognition to at least acknowledge what he's been doing this season.