All hail the king of dunk contest theatrics, Ben McLemore
Ben McLemore didn't win the slam dunk contest Saturday night in New Orleans — Dunker of the Night went to Washington's John Wall — but it wasn't due to a lack of theatrics or superb athleticism from the high-flying shooting guard.
The Sacramento Kings rookie, the only former Kansas player involved in the NBA's All-Star Weekend festivities, had the arena and Twitter abuzz when, accompanied by Shaquille O'Neal and wearing a regal robe, he paraded toward the court, where a throne sat conspicuously in the paint.
As Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee put it, "Ben McLemore gave one of the more theatrical performances in Kings history."
Eventually, after the showy intro, McLemore got down to business — or would it be up to business in this case? — by leaping over the throne, occupied by Kings minority investor Shaq, and throwing down an impressive slam.
I don't know if TNT still uses the slogan, "We know drama," but clearly the combo we shall now refer to as Shaq-Lemore were happy to bring a flair for the dramatic to the broadcast.
Whether you love or hate all the spectacle, it was quite a dunk, and as Kenny Smith said during the broadcast, probably actually more difficult than Blake Griffin's dunk over the hood of a car a few years back.
Here is McLemore's crowning moment in epic, super-slow-mo mode:
“I was robbed,” McLemore joked to the Bee's Voisin, laughing. “I dunked over a chair and a 7-footer! That was creative. It was a great dunk.”
Before the main attraction, McLemore and his fellow Western Conference teammates, Golden State's Harrison Barnes and Portland's Damian Lillard, performed a series of jams in the freestyle round.
Prior to the contest, it turns out the man known as "The Human Highlight Reel," Dominique Wilkins, said McLemore was his sleeper pick. And Nique won the event twice, famously battling Michael Jordan on more than one occasion.
“That kid has a lot of bounce,” Wilkins said in a column by Voisin for the Bee. “I like his chances.”
The Kings rookie didn't have to go far for some dunk contest advice, either. Sacramento's player development director is Dee Brown, who won the all-star weekend showcase in 1991.
Voisin wrote that Brown often has worked with McLemore on another part of his game after practices, too. McLemore has "small and slender" hands and often struggles to maintain his grip.
So Brown had more to offer than, "Hey, kid. Just cover your eyes when you dunk."
As you can tell from McLemore's Twitter account, he was stoked to be a part of All-Star Weekend.
To wrap things up, here are some pretty cool photos the Kings tweeted out from the competition.
Finally, check out a compilation of McLemore's best in-game dunks from his still young and promising career.
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