Despite Preconceived “Controversy”, Robinson Deserved To Win

By Gregory Moore
Updated: February 20, 2006

HOUSTON, Texas – Andre Igudala probably deserved to win the 2006 Slam Dunk contest when he had his teammate, Allen Iverson, throw the ball off the back side of the backboard and he threw down a hellacious dunk during the first round. Igudala’s dunk was a perfect dunk by any stretch of the imagination however as many in attendance found out, it wasn’t about the tall guys who could easily throw down just about any dunk he would want to try; it was about a small guy by the name of Nate Robinson; a 5’9” guard who played his ball at the University of Washington and who could throw down with power. It was Robinson who came away the crowd pleaser and the winner of the event not because it took him several tries to pull off a dunk of unimaginable proportions for his last try, but because he dunked over a guy who set the standard for small players winning these contests. Nate Robinson got his inspiration from Spud Webb.

There is an inherit problem with a slam dunk contest in which a small guy has to match up against a big guy, the crowd just doesn’t believe that a small guy like Robinson has the hops to do spectacular things. Well maybe that is just the stereotyping by basketball fans but when you think about it, it is much harder for a small guy to have the vertical leap necessary to get over the rim. What Robinson did was historical even Webb had to make that point during the interview.

“These individual achievements, you take pride in, and I didn’t recognize how valuable it was until I retired from the NBA and people appreciate the things you do,” Webb said. “He doesn’t know the history he made today, but down the road he’ll appreciate it with his kids.” History is something that has an interpretation all its own. For some who believe that Igudala was robbed, they will say that the judges did everything they could to provide Robinson just one more opportunity. For those who believe Robinson deserved to win, they will say that the judges did what was necessary to ensure a fair and just result. Yet let’s look at what Robinson did on Saturday night from this standpoint: he proved that good things come in small packages.

Maybe Andre Igudala was robbed; maybe he wasn’t. Yet one thing is for certain, this was a contest where many felt that it was going to be very boring and yet it turned out to be quite entertaining; even down to the last dunk.

JAMES’ REALLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE DUNK CONTEST Not wanting to take anything away from Nate and his achievements, but will somebody sit LeBron down later and explain to him why he needs to stay out of a guard competition like the skills contest and stick to something that has helped make his ‘bones’ in the league? Basically what I am saying is that while James put up an admirable showing in the Skills Challenge, that is not his forte and I think many the Toyota Center and those watching on television felt robbed that he wasn’t in the dunk contest.

James’ legacy is supposed to be that of Michael Jordan; the player image that he is fast eclipsing in some areas. However to be real about the situation, James is nowhere near such a mark because he is not looking at exactly the basketball model that Jordan put together for his career. The slam dunk contest for Jordan was a way to not only sell himself as a high flyer to league patrons, he was also setting up his business model for the very company that now has provided him with a subsidiary of his own show; the Jordan Brand.

James’ business model isn’t quite the same version that Jordan has shown the world. James’ Madison Avenue appeal is nowhere near the stratospheric proportions that Jordan still enjoys to this day. Yet if James ever realizes how important this contest is in his career, he may be able to supplant Jordan and even Kobe Bryant in the sneaker wars. The slam-dunk contest isn’t about winning the contest as much as it is about selling the shoe. Jordan knew that and that’s why the Jordan brand basketball shoe has lasted twenty-one years. If James wants his brand of shoe to last that long, he will need to talk to His Airness and learn from the business model that he has kept in place for over a decade. If James doesn’t think that is an important step in his business model, then he will have a short-lived shoe career that ends when he retires.

JUST TO REITERATE MY POINT, NO NBA PLAYERS The NBA, Jerry Colangelo and USA Basketball is determined to name NBA players as the individuals who will bring gold back to the program that competes in international basketball competition. That’s ironic because if that is the case, can we get this roster to then go ahead and head over to Japan during the summer. Well since we know that’s not going to happen, why is everyone so quick to name a bunch of millionaire ball players as the standard bearers of our Olympic dreams in that sport?

I have maintained a strong stance that the league needs to abandon this notion that the NBA player is the standard bearer and they need to focus more on the American FIBA basketball player who is playing in the European leagues. Evidently that logic is not quite shared with those who think they know what’s good for USA Basketball. Well no matter because here is my prediction to this upcoming team; they will not win gold.

They will not win gold because they will not have the time necessary to commit to such an arduous task. I don’t want anyone thinking that I am being unpatriotic because I’m not. What I am being is a realist to the situation at hand. There is a better chance of winning gold when you use players who understand European basketball rules because they play the game under those rules. NBA rules are vastly different than FIBA rules and if Colangelo and others don’t see that the NBA player is not privy to such rules and play structure, then Houston we definitely have a problem.