Feb. 18, 2006
HOUSTON, Texas (AP) - NBA basketball is a big man's game.
Don't tell that to 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson.
The former University of Washington standout and current New York Knicks rookie won the NBA All-Star slam dunk competition Saturday night, beating out 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala of Philadelphia, 6-9 Hakim Warrick of Memphis and 6-9 defending champ Josh Smith of Atlanta.
"When people look at me, they really don't understand where the hops are coming from," said Robinson, who edged Iguodala in a dunk-off to earn a $35,000 first prize.
Before Robinson capped the night with his high-flying act, 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki won the 3-point shooting contest and Dywane Wade took the skills competition.
Robinson, a first-round draft pick out of Washington, electrified the Toyota Center by taking a bounce pass from Spud Webb, the 1986 champion, and leaping over the 5-7 Webb to jam. The stunt earned a perfect 50-point score from the five-judge panel to force a dunk-off against Iguodala, who had received two perfect scores.
Robinson gave an assist for the memorable dunk to Knicks teammate Jamal Crawford.
"We were on the plane and he was like, 'Man, I have the perfect idea,'" Robinson said. "I was like, 'What?' He said, 'You should jump over Spud Webb. It's been 20 years (since Webb won the title).
"We had to get in touch with him, so we did and he was like, 'Yeah, sure,'" Robinson said.
Webb, the only other player shorter than 6 feet to win the popular contest, said he enjoyed sharing the spotlight with Robinson.
"He doesn't know what he did tonight," Webb said. "He made history. One day he can tell his kids about this."
In the dunk-off, a tiring Robinson needed 14 attempts to dunk. He finally caught his own pass off the backboard and jammed, earning 47 points to edge Iguodala by one. Iguodala shook his head when the final score was posted.
Webb had a reply to those who thought Iguodala should have won.
"Let me answer that for you: Big guys shouldn't judge the dunk contest," Webb said.
Each player dunked twice in the first round, with judges awarding composite scores between 30 and 50 points. The top two scores advanced to the finals.
Because of Robinson the dunk contest highlighted All-Star Saturday.
In the 20th 3-point shootout, Dallas All-Star Nowitzki, outshot Seattle's Ray Allen and Washington's Gilbert Arenas in the final round to win the $35,000 first prize. Nowitzki scored 18 points in the final round, topping Arenas' 16 and Allen's 15.