Howard ‘Super,’ but ‘Krypto-Nate’ Steals Slam Dunk • Latino Sports


Howard ‘Super,’ but ‘Krypto-Nate’ Steals Slam Dunk



PHOENIX – It looks like “Krypto-Nate” is the only thing that can stop the NBA’s version of Superman.

Staying true to the comic book storyline, diminutive guard Nate Robinson, clad in an all-green Knicks uniform with bright green Nike sneakers, rose over the 6-foot-11 Dwight “Superman” Howard to clinch the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk title. Robinson dethroned the Orlando center in an electrifying dunk competition Saturday night at U.S. Airways Center, winning 52 percent of fans’ votes to take home the honor.   

“Dwight was a great sport letting me dunk over him,” said Robinson, who also won in Houston in 2006.

“I asked him yesterday in the elevator,” added Robinson, who pitched the idea to Howard on Friday. “He was like, ‘Hey, I’ll do it.’ I thought he was joking.”

Howard said he was happy to help him out. “It is all about having fun. Hey, he won fair and square. The fans loved it. We tried to put on a good show. That’s what it is all about at All-Star weekend. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses.”

The All-Star center performed the most theatrical dunk of the night in the opening round. He disappeared into a phone booth just off the court, emerging with a Superman cape, and waved his arms to the crowd as an 11-foot basket was wheeled onto the floor. He didn’t disappoint, tomahawking the dunk. Howard received a perfect score of 50 for his first two dunks, but Robinson rebounded with his slam over Howard in the finale.

The Knicks were the green alternative uniform on St. Patrick’s Day. It came in handy for Robinson’s response to Howard’s Superman, which he unveiled last year in New Orleans.

“I wore the white jersey, the blue jersey. I was like I got to come up with something,” Robinson said. “Then when Dwight did the Superman last year, a light bulb went out, ding, ding, ding, there it is. Kryptonite. That’s Superman’s weakness. God has got to let me win this one just because of the great ideas and the preparation for the dunks, preparing for it, practicing. And it worked out.

“I just thought about kryptonite dunk, I didn’t come up with ‘Krypto-Nate.’ My agent did, actually.” 

Portland’s Rudy Fernandez of Spain and Denver’s J.R. Smith were eliminated in the first round. After multiple attempts, Fernandez completed arguably the most difficult dunk of the night, jamming a pass from behind the backboard down. Despite the creativity, Fernandez only received a 42 from the judges.

If Robinson decides to defend his title in Dallas next February, he could face an even tougher field. All-Star LeBron James tentatively placed himself into next year’s contest during the television broadcast.

“It is going to be fun to see LeBron in the dunk contest next year,” Robinson said. “Me, I think – this is it for me. I’m good. Unless they really, really want me to do it, and I got to figure out some more dunks to do. For the most part, I think I’m done.”  

Notes: All-Saturday Night also included the popular 3-point Shootout. Miami’s Daequan Cook connected over and over again when the contest went to an extra session. The Heat guard posted the best total of the competition with 19 points in the extra round, cruising past Orlando’s Rashard Lewis to win the title and end Jason Kapono’s two-year run as king of the shootout.

“I felt this was my opportunity to show people that I should be considered as one of the elite 3-point shooters in the game, so tonight I came out and did that,” Cook said.

Chicago’s Derrick Rose capped his Skills Challenge victory with a double-pump reverse dunk. Rose defeated New Jersey’s Devin Harris in the final round, navigating the obstacle course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations in 35.3 seconds, 4.4 seconds faster than Harris.

About Bobby Ciafardini