NEW ORLEANS -- Earlier in this week, LeBron James said he'd win the slam-dunk contest if he competed. James has had 11 chances to enter as an NBA player and hasn't done so. Wizards point guard John Wall, who will be among six contestants Saturday, begs to differ. And Wall seems extremely confident in himself even though he didn't practice for the first time until Friday.
"I don't think he is a big dunk contest person. Some people are more in-game dunkers. You look at the McDonald's game (in 2003), I think LeBron just won it off hype," Wall said, sporting a smile and almost giddy giving his various perspectives on contests past, present and future. "Shannon Brown could've won that one.
"You tell him, 'Here, go take a basketball and you got to dunk in front of all these people.' I'm more of a dunk contest person. In-game, I'm not trying all them because I'm not trying to miss and get taken out of the game or be on (ESPN's) Not Top 10. In the dunk contest you can miss and say, 'I've got 3 more tries.'"
Wall will be in a field with Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors), Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings). George notably had a 360-degree windmill in a game this season and is considered a heavy favorite. Ross won the contest last season.
Wall was supposed to get some reps in earlier in the week when the Wizards played at the Memphis Grizzlies but that didn't work out. When he practiced Friday, Wall said he made some of his most difficult ones on the first try.
"In a game, like PG's 360 windmill I'd never try. I was so nervous when I did the 360 that day because if I miss this I'll be on Not Top 10. See, I can do tricks," Wall said. "In high school you don't care. I used to windmill all the time in high school. Now I give you a regular one-hand or two-hand dunk. I'm cool with it."