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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Look. Everybody could see this was coming. All the revealing signs were there:
- Ben McLemore kept acting flighty.
- Even worse, frankly, the Sacramento rookie routinely treated his guests rudely, openly humiliating them.
- Can you believe the gall of this guy? I mean, the things he has done are vulgar.
Well, finally McLemore got what he deserved. The NBA announced on Thursday that the 6-foot-5 rookie shooting guard (who was snubbed for the Rising Stars Challenge) will be a part of All-Star Weekend after all — as one of six participants in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.
McLemore has some serious competition this year. Sometimes these made-for-TV dunk shows are unwatchable. But that won't be the case on Feb. 15 in New Orleans.
The high-flying former Jayahawk will go up against Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and defending dunk contest champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors.
Get a glimpse of McLemore's competition here: The Definitive Guide to the 2014 NBA Dunk Contest (courtesy of USA Today's For The Win).
A young and dynamic finisher, and the first KU product to participate in the NBA slam dunk contest, McLemore obviously can't wait for the chance to show off some of his fierce slams with the entire league watching — not exactly the case for most Sacramento games.
Here are a few more looks at what 20-year-old aerial artist has to offer:
Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.