Former USC guard/forward DeMar DeRozan, who helped lead the Trojans to a Pac-10 tournament title just one year ago, is holding his own in the NBA so far in his rookie season. The Compton native is averaging 8.3 points per game, while shooting nearly 50% from the field as a member of the Toronto Raptors, and on Saturday night in Dallas, the 6'7" rookie had the opportunity to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. But the challenge would be stiff for DeRozan, as the competition featured two-time champion Nate Robinson.
Yet, DeRozan still did enough to put himself in a position to win the contest. He didn't necessarily bring his A-game per say, but he still had one of the better performances of the night and represented the Raptors and USC quite well.
In the first round, his between-the-legs left-handed windmill, which gave him a score of 42, was somewhat underwhelming, but his following dunk was arguably the best of the night:
The second DeRozan dunk was a 50, Weems laying it off the side of the board and DeRozan slamming it windmill-style. Was it a 50? Probably not, but it was clearly the best dunk of the round and Weems needs to be given credit for executing the pass. As Barkley said, "When Dominque Wilkins's gives you a 10, you're doing something right".
From then on, DeRozan emerged as the favorite to win the contest, but beating out the 5'9" Robinson would prove to be a bit of a challenge:
The final dunk for the 5-foot-9 Robinson came when he threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it and turned midair for a two-handed backward slam.
Robinson was joined on the court for the final round by several Dallas Cowboyscheerleaders, though they weren't used as props for any of his dunks.
"They're way too beautiful for that," Robinson said. "I just wanted them to stand over there and cheer."
After his final slam, Robinson celebrated by grabbing a pair of silver and blue pompoms from one of them and waving them in the air.
Robinson's height and popularity among fans nationwide were too much to overcome, as the New York Knicks guard eventually earned 51% of the voting. But nevertheless, DeRozan did very little in the final round to warrant serious consideration for the title. His last dunks weren't particularly creative. Yes, the slam over Weems, who is 6'7" was nice, but he did very little to get people to go out of their way to vote him in.
Yet, despite his somewhat disappointing finish, it was still a nice showing for the former Trojan overall. He didn't embarrass himself and he was certainly solid. These competitions are mainly about having fun, and by the look of things, it seemed as if DeRozan was enjoying himself. He didn't win, which would have certainly been nice, but he came out and had a strong performance that got some fans excited. Dunk contest fans won't necessarily remember this performance in 5 years, but for now, he at least proved to be rather entertaining on a Saturday night. In reality, that's all that matters.