Published February 13, 2010
DALLAS (AP) — Nate Robinson is the NBA's first three-time slam dunk champion, and that's enough for him. The 5-foot-9 New York Knicks guard says he's done with the marquee event of Saturday night's All-Star festivities.
"No, no, no, no, no. I don't think I can bear that anymore. I'm just happy with this third one," he said. "This is the last one."
Robinson barely won another title, garnering 51 percent of the fan vote to hold off Toronto rookie DeMar DeRozan in a largely forgettable dunk contest.
DeRozan advanced to the final round after getting a perfect score of 50 on his second dunk of the first round.
After bringing several Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders on the court with him, Robinson's final dunk came when he threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it and turned midair for a two-handed backward slam.
"The best thing I brought with me, the Dallas cheerleaders of course," Robinson said. "I asked if they could help me out with the dunk. They did their job and I did mine."
While not using the cheerleaders as props — "They're way too beautiful for that," he said — Robinson celebrated his final dunk by grabbing a pair of silver and blue pompoms from one of them and waving them in the air.
Fan voting determined the final round after DeRozan advanced by getting five 10s from a judging panel that included former dunk champions Spud Webb and Dominique Wilkins. The 5-foot-7 Webb, a Dallas native, won the event the only other time it was held in his hometown in 1986.
Robinson won the dunk title as a rookie in 2006, then beat Dwight Howard to win again last year.
DeRozan's perfect score came after he caught a pass off the side of the backboard and slammed it with his right hand on the other side of the hoop.
DeRozan got a spot in the competition by winning the first-ever All-Star Slam Dunk-In, beating Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon at halftime of the rookie challenge on Friday night.
While Robinson reigned again, Boston's Paul Pierce arrived for All-Star weekend wanting to make up for an embarrassing performance.
Consider it done.
Pierce won the 3-Point Shootout, proving his lackluster performance the last time he was in the competition was an aberration.
"I worked on it, I really took pride in it. In '02 I stunk it up. I wanted to come in here and put on a show," Pierce said. "I had to work on getting the technique down and knowing what side to pull the ball from, stuff like that. I knew if I got hot I could win it."
Pierce had 20 points in the final round, making all five of the 2-point money balls, to beat Golden State's Stephen Curry (17) and Denver's Chauncey Billups (14).
When Pierce last competed in the Shootout in 2002, he scored only eight points — what he called leading into this week's competition "almost a record low."
Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash also was a winner Saturday night, beating a trio of 20-somethings to capture another Skills Challenge title six days after he turned 36.
With a time of 29.9 seconds in the final round of the obstacle course-like skills competition, Nash beat Dallas native and 2008 champion Deron Williams of Utah, who is 11 years younger.
It's been quite a run this weekend for the Canadian, who helped light the Olympic cauldron at Friday's opening ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also will be on the court Sunday for the All-Star game in the same area where he played from 1998-2004.
"I got my second wind," said Nash, who jokingly asked his younger opponents before the competition if he could start from the second station instead of doing the entire course.
Nash, whose other Skills Challenge title came in 2005, didn't have any practice on the course before the competition.
"I tried my best without my warmup," Nash said. "I missed the run-through because I was a little disjointed from the trip. ... I was kind of hoping for the best."
Nash completed every obstacle in the final round in one try — save for a second shot from the top of the key. Williams was perfect until needing five shots at the outlet pass, when he had already exceeded Nash's winning time.
Milwaukee rookie guard Brandon Jennings and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, 21, were eliminated after the first round. Westbrook replaced defending champion Derrick Rose of Chicago, who sat out with a bruised right hip.
Defending 3-point champion Daequan Cook of Miami was eliminated after the first round. His 15 points were the same as Phoenix's Channing Frye and New York's Danilo Gallinari. Curry had 18 points in the first round, while Pierce and Billups had 17.
In Saturday night's opening event, hometown favorite and former Nash teammate Dirk Nowitzki hit a shot from midcourt to cap Team Texas' victory in the Shooting Stars competition.
Texas, which also consisted of San Antonio Silver Stars player Becky Hammon and former Houston guard Kenny Smith, beat Team Los Angeles with a time of 34.3 in the finals. The Texas trio needed 13 shots to complete the final round.
Lakers All-Star Pau Gasol, former NBA player Brent Barry and Marie Ferdinand-Harris of the Los Angeles Sparks came in second, finishing in 55.2 seconds.
Saturday night's events were at the American Airlines Center, but Sunday's All-Star game will be at Cowboys Stadium, where more than 90,000 people are expected to attend.
"The whole weekend is special because Dallas can showcase what we have. The new stadium is going to be amazing," Nowitzki said. "We'll all be part of history in the biggest crowd and this is a good way to start it off."