James White Looking to Make Mark in Dunk Contest; Dominique Wilkins Talks Melo, Dunk Contest
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Up until now, the highlight of James “Flight” White’s basketball career may have been the dunk contest he won in Russia in 2010 in which he beat Gerald Green.
“Probably the one with Gerald Green was the [most] fun,” White, who played for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati, said earlier this week at Knicks practice. “I had a couple friends that were in it. The more competitive it is, the more fun it is. It’s not fun when nobody else is doing anything. ”
White, a 30-year Knick reserve, will appear on his biggest stage yet Saturday night when he competes in the Slam Dunk Contest over All-Star weekend in Houston.
His fellow competitors include Green of the Pacers, 2012 champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe, the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried and the Toronto Raptors’ Terrence Rose.
“It’s going to be a real good one because all the guys are real athletic and can do some things,” White said.
“Them guys are younger than me, though, man,” he added. “I don’t think none of them are older than 27. All them guys are young.”
The judges are former Houston stars Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Yao Ming and Rudy Tomjanovich.
White said he first realized he had the ability to dunk when he was in tenth grade.
“I was just doing a lot of different kind of dunks,” he said.
White says he has some dunks in mind for the contest but hasn’t practiced any of them.
“It’s really just about what everybody else does,” he said. “I have dunks in the bag. If I have to pull them out, then I’ll pull them out. But if not, then I don’t.”
Said teammate J.R. Smith: “I’m definitely confident in him. I’m kind of scared that he ain’t gonna practice. But that’s what he does. He’s a dunk contest Hall of Famer in my eyes, so hopefully he goes out there and finishes.”
Carmelo Anthony, speaking in Houston, said according to the New York Times: “I saw a couple of things, but I can’t reveal them. We don’t call him Flight for nothing.”
One thing’s for sure. White won’t be pulling a Blake Griffin and dunking over cars or other people.
“I don’t do gimmick dunks,” he said dismissively. “I never needed them, so I don’t really do stuff like that. That’s stuff you gotta practice, too.”
Three years removed from his dunk contest win in Russia, White will now compete on the biggest stage of them all.
And what would it mean for him to win it?
“It means more money in my pocket, of course,” he said. “I feel that I’m one of the best to ever do that as far as dunk contests goes. To win it would solidify that for me and a lot of my fans.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.