This past weekend, the young stars from the NBA put on quite a show during the dunk contest. They used imagination, they used props, and most importantly they pulled off dunks that had never been seen before. Even though the dunk champion is usually the guy that pulls off the best dunk of the night, the contest itself has turned into much more than that. There’s no bigger example of this than Blake Griffin winning the contest. In his NBA hometown, Griffin went into the contest as the favorite and while he didn’t do anything to lose the trophy and his final dunk where he jumped over the hood of a car was extremely creative, it certainly wasn’t a dunk that was worthy of him winning either according to Shawn Kemp.
Before Kemp decided to eat himself out of the league, he was one of the younger, more athletic players in the NBA that was known for making some highlight reel plays, including dunks and he was not impressed with what went down in the Staples Center on Saturday night.
Shawn Kemp joined KJR in Seattle with Dave “Softy” Mahler and Ian Furness to talk about Blake Griffin winning the dunk contest, why they didn’t use very many props back in the early stages of the dunk contest, if he thinks he could still play in the NBA nowadays, and tells a good story about talking trash with Charles Barkley in his first game against him.
Why he has an issue with Blake Griffin winning the dunk contest:
“I’m a big Blake Griffin fan, but that dunk at the contest might’ve been the weakest dunk in the dunk contest that I’ve seen in a long time. I love the choir and all that stuff was great, but you at least gotta jump over the car though right? He swung over the car and landed on the hood of the car. I think he should at least be able to jump over the front of the car.”
If they used props in the early stages of the contest:
“I think the NBA was a little weary about bringing in things like that. Tables and stuff like that. But what has transpired is the dunk contest didn’t do well for a long time and wasn’t as popular as it used to be so you see some of the guys trying to build it back up. I think it’s awesome. Some of the things they were doing, the guy trying to dunk three basketballs, the one was dunking two basketballs, and all those things are great, but that last dunk, I’m telling you guys I was excited and pumped up. I’m thinking he’s at least going to jump over the car. He swung on the rim and landed on the middle of the hood.”
You said off the air you’re 41 years old and you can jump over a car right now:
“I’m 41 years old and right now I could do it. Two Smart Cars. (Hosts: This has charity angle written all over it) I think we gotta do it. We gonna get the Prius out there and we’re going to get the best choir in the city. We’re going to jump over a couple of cars.”
Whether or not he still plays and can dunk:
“I still play a lot, but I work out. (Host: When you play do you still dunk?) Yeah I still dunk. This is what happens, you play basketball and then when you don’t play and jump the way you used to, your game develops a different way. Now you watch me play and I probably shoot the basketball and you say man, he probably should’ve shot like that when he was with the team. When I was younger those guys didn’t want me shooting the basketball, they wanted me to go in there and do the dirty work.”
What kind of shape he is in:
“I am in better shape than what I was when I finished playing in the NBA. Throughout the years I’ve been able to have a cleaner living and better lifestyle. I think the older you get, the wiser.”
Whether or not he thinks he can still play in the league:
“I feel like that all the time. Then when I go to the games and see how fast these young fellas are then I say to myself I would be good for one and maybe I would wait till the next week and play that one game.”
Talking trash with Charles Barkley:
“First year I got to Seattle I was sitting in the locker room and we were playing the Philadelphia 76ers. I had been a Charles Barkley fan ever since I was a little kid. Loving Charles Barkley and I get a little note that says ‘Mr. Kemp do not bring that weak stuff in the paint tonight. Signed Sir Charles. I will send my shoes to you after the game autographed.’ I sent the note back and said thank you Mr. Barkley. (Host: What did you do in the game?) That first game I played against Charles I smashed on him so hard in the first half. I smashed in his face at 19 and it wasn’t the fact that I had to say anything. I just wanted him to know that there was a new dimension to the basketball game. (Host: Did he say anything to you?) Oh he knew it. At that point in time the rivalry had started.”