If you are looking for as much as hint to what tricks Rockets forward Chase Budinger will pull out his hat during next weekend’s NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest don’t even bother.
If Budinger is formulating any ideas in his head he certainly isn’t sharing.
“I’m still thinking about it,” he said following Thursday afternoon’s practice at Toyota Center. “This is quite new to me, too so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to think about it because we’ve been playing a lot of games. My mind has been on playing the next few games instead of working on dunks.”
The NBA announced earlier Thursday that Budinger has been invited to participate in the slam dunk contest in Orlando along with the New York Knicks Ian Shumpert, Indiana Pacers Paul George and Minnesota Timberwolves Derrick Williams.
It’s certainly not the slam dunk field that will have people on the edge of their seats in advance but the NBA obviously decided to go the young and unknown commodity route after defending champion Blake Griffin bowed out along with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
Still, it’s almost certain that even this field will provide some memorable moments to what has long been one of the highlight events of the NBA All-Star Weekend.
“It’s a huge honor,” Budinger said. “Ever since I was a little kid you watch the dunk contest and you watch all the players who have been in it. The opportunity arose where they asked me and I’m not going to turn that down ever.”
But the question is what will Budinger do to stand out? Back in the day players like Dr. J, Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkerson let their supreme athleticism make the difference. But today it has been about the props from Howard busting out of a phone booth in a Superman cape to Griffin last year bringing out an entire gospel choir to sing while he leaped over a car.
What could Budinger do to possibly stand out this year? Kevin Martin suggested Budinger play on his background as a volleyball player by bringing some sand out on the court.
Budinger got a bit of a chuckle when he heard what Martin suggested.
“Who knows?” he said. “What this dunk contest has evolved to is a lot of using props, trying to be unique because you really can’t do new dunks. Everybody has pretty much done all the dunks. All it is now is trying to be creative and get the crowd involved and make it exciting.”
Budinger will have some heavy competition because ESPN.com is reporting that Shumpert will use his teammate and latest NBA sensation Jeremy Lin in some way during the slam dunk contest. With the popularity Lin is enjoying right now that would make Shumpert the early favorite.
Maybe Budinger might want to give his buddy and former Rockets teammate Yao Ming a call and see if he can be of assistance. Budinger, of course, wouldn’t say but with the new voting format that now has taken the judges out and replaced them with fan voting on either Twitter, NBA.com or text messaging will make massive appeal critical.
“I thought that was pretty cool,” Budinger said of the NBA’s planned use of social media to decide the winner of the now one-round slam dunk competition. “You watch a lot of the television series like “Dancing With the Stars” and a lot of that has to do with social media and voting for people. So I thought this is a cool little twist the NBA has added to the dunk contest.”