Feb. 14, 2009
PHOENIX - Call him Krypto-Nate.
Nate Robinson tugged on Superman's cape - and won. The diminutive New York Knicks guard beat defending champion Dwight Howard of Orlando in an electrifying slam dunk contest on Saturday night, winning 52 per cent of fans' votes. Clad in an all-green Knicks uniform with green shoes, the five-foot-nine Robinson springboarded over the six-foot-11 Howard to jam.
"Dwight was a great sport letting me dunk over him," said Robinson, who also won in 2006.
Robinson pitched the idea to Orlando's big man on Friday.
"I asked him yesterday in the elevator," Robinson said. "He was like, 'Hey, I'll do it.' I thought he was joking."
Howard said he was happy to help him out.
"It is all about having fun," Howard said. "Hey, he won fair and square. The fans loved it. We tried to put on a good show. That's what it is all about at all-star weekend. It doesn't matter who wins or loses."
Howard seemed destined for another victory after scoring a perfect 50 on both of his first-round dunks.
The all-star centre performed the most theatrical dunk of the night in the opening round. He disappeared into a phone booth just off the court, emerging with a Superman cape, and waved his arms to the crowd as an 11-foot basket was wheeled onto the floor.
He then took a bounce pass from teammate Jameer Nelson and tomahawked a dunk as U.S. Airways Center exploded.
"I'm not mad or anything," Howard said. "He did a good job. I guess the shorter man will win in a dunk contest because it looks real hard for him. It looks easy for me."
Portland's Rudy Fernandez and Denver's J.R. Smith were eliminated in the first round.
Robinson could face an even tougher field if he decides to defend his title in Dallas. LeBron James tentatively placed himself into next year's contest during the television broadcast.