Charlotte Hornets

Hornets rookie Miles Bridges’ Larry Johnson tribute not enough in slam-dunk contest

Best dunks in the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest

Oklahoma City's Hamidou Diallo took home the honors with a dunk over Shaq. Here are the three best dunks of the night.
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Oklahoma City's Hamidou Diallo took home the honors with a dunk over Shaq. Here are the three best dunks of the night.

Charlotte Hornets rookie Miles Bridges went old-school gear, but it wasn’t enough to pull off a victory in the NBA’s annual slam-dunk contest at Spectrum Center.

Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo took the win, beating New York Knick (and former N.C. State point guard) Dennis Smith Jr. in the final.

Bridges made a spectacular comeback in the second round. Incorporating Hornets teammate Kemba Walker, and donning a Larry Johnson jersey from the franchise’s early seasons, he scored 10s from all five judges. He had Walker bounce the ball off the narrow edge of the backboard, where Bridges grabbed the pass, spun and dunk.

Miles Bridges Slam Dunk.JPG
Charlotte Hornets rookie Miles Bridges soars to the basket during the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest at the Spectrum Center on Saturday. Chuck Burton AP

Bridges’ performance raised the stakes. Smith, who grew up in Fayetteville, countered with a mid-air catch for a tomahawk from far above the rim. Then, Diallo enlisted former NBA great Shaquille O’Neal. The 7-foot-1 O’Neal stood in Diallo’s path to the basket, causing Diallo to leap spread-eagle over O’Neal for the dunk.

Diallo and Smith advanced on those dunks over Bridges and Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (a former Wake Forest star). Collins brought a large model of a bi-plane (North Carolina is the First-in-Flight state), but his dunk in aviator gear didn’t get him to the next round.

Smith borrowed two All-Stars, the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, in the final. Smith had Curry feed him the ball and leaped over Wade for the dunk.

But Diallo topped out with a two-handed jam, plucking the ball in mid-air to two-hand slam for the win.

1991 NBA Slam Dunk champion Dee Brown had to change the laces out of the Reebok Pump shoes he wore during the contest despite already having black laces...but why?

Bridges said Saturday morning he was advised by Hornets owner Michael Jordan, a former slam-dunk champion, to take special care not to miss his first attempt. It didn’t work out that way. Multiple attempts in that first round to bounce the pass to himself off the backboard failed to end in a successful dunk.

Rick Bonnell is a sportswriter/columnist for the Charlotte Observer. He has been in Charlotte since 1988, when the NBA arrived, and has covered the Hornets continuously. A former president of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, Bonnell also writes occasionally on the NFL and college sports.
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