New York Knicks star Nate Robinson became the first player in NBA history to win the slam dunk contest three times after edging out Toronto Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan in the contest’s final round on February 13 during All-Star Weekend festivities in Dallas.
The 5-foot-9-inch guard shocked several fan favorites in his past two dunk contest wins, and did the same this year. But after barely beating DeRozan with 51 percent of the fan vote, Robinson announced he won’t be going for a fourth title next season. For the undersized underdog, three is plenty.
“No, no, no, no, no. I don’t think I can bear that anymore. I’m just happy with this third one,” Robinson told the media after receiving his trophy. “This is the last one.”
Robinson stood out to the fans and judges in what was perhaps the least exciting dunk contest in recent years. Other contestants included the Los Angeles Lakers’ Shannon Brown and Charlotte Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace, who both were eliminated after performing lackluster dunks in the first round.
DeRozan performed the most difficult dunks and earned the only perfect score in the contest after catching a pass off the side of the backboard and dunking it with his right hand on the other side of the hoop.
But “little Nate” captured the fan’s attention when he was ushered onto the court with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. His ability to leap equal to athletes at least eight inches taller inspired fans to name him the first ever three-time slam dunk champ.
Meanwhile, Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce won the three-point contest, becoming the first Celtic player to win the contest since the legendary Larry Bird.
Pierce earned a score of 20 in the final round to beat out Golden State Warriors rookie Stephon Curry, who scored 17 points in the final round. Other participants included Denver Nuggets star Chauncey Billups, the New York Knicks’ Danilio Gallinari, and 2009 three-point champ Daquan Cook, but all three were eliminated in the contest’s first round.
Pierce said his performance makes up for the unimpressive display he put up when he participated in the 2002 three-point contest.
“I worked on it, I really took pride in it. In ’02 I stunk it up. I wanted to come in here and put on a show,” Pierce said. “I had to work on getting the technique down and knowing what side to pull the ball from, stuff like that. I knew if I got hot I could win it.”