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Thunder Ballers http://www.thunderballers.com/ Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:19:46 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) Westbrook, Free Throws Sink Suns http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/westbrook-free-throws-sink-suns.html

You have to like the way this team is coming together.

The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Phoenix Suns in overtime last night, 122-118. After suffering their first three game losing streak of the season in which they scored less than 90 points in two of those games, the Thunder have now won three straight games in where they have scored at least 111 points in all three of those games.

Keep in mind, this team is still playing without Kendrick Perkins.

Oklahoma City is playing great ball right now, and things will only continue to improve for this young squad. Their time is now.

The offense has been more in sync as of late, and they are still working with new lineup combinations following their deadline deals as well as battling through some injury issues. Once those all work themselves out, this is going to be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.

Kevin Durant had an awful shooting night from the field, converting on just 3 of 14 of his attempts. But like all great players are capable of doing, Durant made up for his poor shooting performance by connecting on 11 of 12 free throws. He also added 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in the winning effort. 

But the strength of this team has been unity, where so many players lately have picked up the slack when one of their stars suffers an off game. Last night was no different.

Russell Westbrook led the way with a game high 32 points and also added 11 assists. His five turnovers are still a bit high, but the Thunder could not have won last night's game without his strong play.

Still coming off of the bench must suit James Harden well, as he tied a career high with 26 points last night. His shooting was spectacular, as he hit 8 of 12 field goals and 8 of 9 free throws. Harden also added six rebounds and four assists to go along with his career night.



Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka continues to thrive in the starting lineup for the Thunder. The slam dunk contest participant finished last night's game with 15 points, seven rebounds and four more blocks. It was just a matter of time before Ibaka found his niche with this team.

Also contributing key minutes is Daequan Cook in a reserve role as he continues to knock down big three-pointers. Nick Collison has stepped up his game, especially defensively, and Thabo Sefolosharemains one of the more quiet stars for this team. It may not always show up in the box score, butSefolosha's importance cannot be measured.

Head coach Scott brooks has a tough job as he continues to try and find out which lineups work the best together on the court. So far, you would have to say that he is tinkering in the best way.

Tonight, the Thunder will match up with the Memphis Grizzlies, and it would have been the perfect game for Perkins to make his debut.

Oklahoma City has struggled all season defending Zach Randolph. Jeff Green could never get the job done, and Brooks will have to use a combination of players against Z-Bo tonight.

But Perkins would have been more than up to the challenge. His nastiness and physicality could have been the answer to slow down Randolph's inside scoring ability.

But alas, we will still have to wait another week or so to find out how Oklahoma City's newest investment will pay off on the court.

Regardless of what happens before and for the first few games that Perkins plays, the Thunder continue to do the important things right.

Although they are often undersized, they continue to do a great job at rebounding the ball. They rank seventh in the league.

We all know that they can score, and once Perkins enters the mix, the defense will drastically improve.

But it is statistics like free throws that can make a world of difference, especially late in close games.

Last night against Phoenix, Oklahoma City got to the free throw line 47 times, tied for  a season high. They converted on 37 of those attempts. The Suns, in comparison, made just 8 of 14 tried for the foul line.

Little things cannot be overlooked.

This young team is coming together at the right time.

And in case you haven't been paying attention, this is still without the services of Perkins.

This has all the makings to be a very special season for the Thunder.

* Make sure to follow kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24... 

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test@testing.com (#test) Mon, 07 Mar 2011 15:27:49 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/westbrook-free-throws-sink-suns.html
Make Sure to Check Out Thunder Insider http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/make-sure-to-check-out-thunder-insider.html

While the Oklahoma City Thunder may have only started to receive attention from the national media following their big trades at the NBA trade deadline, the great team of Thunder Boroadcasters at Thunder Insider have been providing in depth analysis throughout the entire season.

To get the latest when it comes to player updates, interviews, previews and inside information, make sure to check out Thunder Insider at The Oklahoman (http://newsok.com/sports/thunder). You can check out the latest episode at the following address - http://newsok.com/thunder-insider-march-3/multimedia/video/814292310001

You can't get this type of information just by watching games or reading our website. Kelly Crull hosts this great show along with fellow Thunder Broadcasters Brian Davis and Grant Long.

The most recent episode takes a look at the trades made by the Thunder that saw them acquire Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and Nazr Mohammed. The talented trio goes on to say how important it was for Oklahoma City to sign Perkins to a long term extension and settle any uncertainty.

Perkins gives this team the size and experience they need to defend against other big bodied scorers in the Western Conference, including Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Zach Randolph and Dirk Nowitzki. It may be the missing piece to the Thunder's puzzle.

For all of this and more, make sure to check out Thunder Insider, hosted by our friend, Kelly Crull!

 

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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Sun, 06 Mar 2011 15:53:28 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/make-sure-to-check-out-thunder-insider.html
Thunder Snap Skid, Lose Durant http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/thunder-snap-skid-lose-durant.html

The Oklahoma City Thunder snapped their longest losing streak of the season of three games last night by defeating the Indiana Pacers, 113-89. But it was what took place in the third quarter that had Thunder fans holding their collective breath.

While driving to the hoop, Kevin Durant stepped on Pacers' forward Tyler Hansbrough's foot and immediately called for a sub and limped directly to the locker room. He did not return, and his status for Friday night's game at the Atlanta Hawks is up in the air as of now. The team is calling it a sprained ankle as of this morning.

Even in less than three quarters of play, Durant finished the game tied with Russell Westbrook with 21 points each. They were the only two starters who finished in double figures in scoring, but the reserves played  a big role in last night's blowout victory.

James Harden finished with 20 points, while Daequan Cook contributed with 12 of his own.

When this team is balanced, they are very dangerous.

And perhaps a positive note is that they looked so good last night, and are still awaiting the debut of Kendrick Perkins, who is now here for the long haul after signing a four year contract extension.

The Thunder are hoping to put their recent three game skid behind them, but considering the opponents who defeated them, they were not bad losses. Oklahoma City did get blown out at Orlando while they were shorthanded following their two trades, but they were in the game at San Antonio and narrowly forced overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers. Just think how big of a difference that Perkins will make.

The thing that Thunder fans will notice most is the change in attitude, especially on defense.

As it is, Serge Ibaka has finally moved into the starting lineup, where he finished with 7 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks against the Pacers last night. Nazr Mohammed is keeping the center position warm until Perkins is ready, and he finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds in limited action. He will be a great addition as Perkins' back-up in a couple of weeks.

But once Perkins joins this team, everyone in the Western Conference will officially be on notice. Perkins knows how to defend Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. He will be a much more physical presence against players such as Zach Randolph, Lamarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan. He will block shots inside and grab plenty of big rebounds.

Right now, the Thunder rank 5th in points and 8th in rebounds per game. They are only 20th in points allowed per game. They will gladly watch their scoring go down while the defense improves.

That would finally mean that they will be playing Thunder basketball.

Now, if we can just make sure that players can stay healthy.

* Make sure to follow kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24...


 

Check out the latest odds to win the NBA title and find out who we think will pull it off with our NBA predictions.]]>
test@testing.com (#test) Thu, 03 Mar 2011 13:48:44 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/thunder-snap-skid-lose-durant.html
Kendrick Perkins Signs Extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/kendrick-perkins-signs-extension-with-the-oklahoma-city-thunder.html

Less than one week after trading for their new center, the Oklahoma City Thunder have signed Kendrick Perkins to a multi-year extension. Terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.

General Manager Sam Presti released a statement saying "We had a unique opportunity to enter into discussions with Kendrick to solidify his future with our organization. "We are pleased to know that he will be a part of our core group now and in the future. Kendrick's blue-collar, team-first approach aligns with the vision we hold for building a sustainable team in the Oklahoma City community."

The Boston Celtics had reportedly offered Perkins a four year contract worth $22 million before trading him to the Thunder. Perkins had been said to be looking for closer to $30 million over the same number of years.

Although he will be sidelined for the next 2-3 weeks with a sprained left knee, Perkins will be a huge addition to a team lacking an inside presence on defense. The team is not overly concerned, since this is a different knee than the one he had offseason surgery on last year.

In 12 games with the Celtics this season, Perkins averaged 7.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.

Perkins is hopeful he can be back in time for the Thunder's six-game homestand that starts March 18.

* Make sure to follow kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24... 
 

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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Tue, 01 Mar 2011 15:56:22 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/march/kendrick-perkins-signs-extension-with-the-oklahoma-city-thunder.html
Thunder Drop 3 Straight for First Time this Season http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-drop-3-straight-for-first-time-this-season.html

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost another tough game yesterday to the Los Angeles Lakers. But this is not about the Lakers. It is about the fact that the Thunder have dropped three straight games for the first time this season. They are still a bit shorthanded without Kendrick Perkins, who will not make his team debut for another couple of weeks, but Scott Brooks and his players will be the first to tell you that they are not making any excuses.

The bottom line is that they need to play better. They need to play better defensively as well as more consistent offensively. Until that happens, this team will not be able to beat the upper echelon teams. They will be able to compete, but not defeat.

Granted, when Perkins joins the lineup, the defense will immediately improve. To gain that much needed size will be crucial to the team's success. Of course, they will need him to remain healthy and on the floor. But he will be able to defend big bodied scorers such as Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Zach Randolph and Dirk Nowitzki.

Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic were not quite as adept at stopping bigger opposition.

But the team has still suffered their first three game losing streak of the season. It is not necassarily time to panic, because two of those three losses were by less than five points, and all three were against top teams.

Yet while it may not be time to panic, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be at least mildly concerned.

The second half continues to be an area of concern for the Thunder, and things were no different yesterday. Kevin Durant finished 4-13 from the field in the second half, while Russell Westbrook missed five of his six shots and turned the ball over 4 times (7 in all). They are still young, and are still figuring out how to close out solid opponents.

But that will come in time. The Thunder will also need to figure out how to play together following their deadline deals. It is never easy, but it happens as the season progresses.

We just have to patient.

At least, to a certain degree.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24...

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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:14:38 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-drop-3-straight-for-first-time-this-season.html
Thunder Send Strong Message with Acquisition of Perkins, Robinson and Mohammed http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-send-strong-message-with-acquisition-of-perkins-robinson-and-mohammed.html

The Oklahoma City Thunder made some noise at the NBA Trade Deadline yesterday by getting bigger in the middle and improving on defense. Ultimately, the day breaks down as follows when you take a look at both deals that brought the Thunder some much needed size in the middle.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER RECEIVE: C Kendrick Perkins, G Nate Robinson, C Nazr Mohammed

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER TRADES AWAY: F Jeff Green, C Nenad Krstic, F. D.J. White, G Morris Peterson



Perkins and Green are the two centerpieces involved in yesterday's deals. Both have expiring contracts after this season, as does Mohammed, while Robinson is under contract for another season. 

But this move was not made for the next couple of seasons. It was to send a message to the rest of teams in the Wsetern Conference that the Thunder are ready to win an NBA championship.

Now.

It has been no secret the Oklahoma City has struggled on defense this year. Green was a decent third scoring option, but although he insists that he is a power forward, he simply cannot guard other elite power forwards in the game. You don't really have to look any further than how he and the team performed against Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies this season. Green simply wasn't strong enough.

If Perkins can stay healthy - and that has been a big if - he instantly upgrades the defense and gives the team a legitimate presence inside. He will not be counted on to score, as there enough options around him who can handle that aspect. He will be able to help out defend some of the big bodies in the west who are offensively proficient, including Randolph, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Dirk Nowitzki and others.

Robinson will provide a spark coming off of the bench, as long as he can learn his role and fit into this system and play how Scott Brooks wants him to play.

Mohammed will give the Thunder some decent minutes in a reserve role behind Perkins.

At first, it seemed like a head scratcher for both teams, but it does make some sense for both. Although, the reaction in Boston has not been nearly as positive as it has been in Oklahoma City. Neither team was expected to re-sign Perkins or Green after this season, but there is no doubt that if he can remain on the floor, that Perkins can have a far greater impact in the playoffs.

The Thunder are certainly hopeful, and they are ready to win.

Now.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24...
 



 

 

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test@testing.com (#test) Fri, 25 Feb 2011 16:35:45 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-send-strong-message-with-acquisition-of-perkins-robinson-and-mohammed.html
Hot Start, Cool Finish Dooms Thunder http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/hot-start-cool-finish-dooms-thunder.html

They proved they can score. They proved they can rebound. They proved that converting on second chance opportunities is no problem. They proved that they can play with the best of them at times. But ultimately, the Oklahoma City Thunder proved that they are almost there.

Almost.

The Thunder got off to a hot start last night against the San Sntonio Spurs, but ultimately fell to the best in the west, 109-105. While I feel that there is no such thing as a moral victory, the fact that they palyed the Spurs tight - and tough - is a positive sign.

Oklahoma City got off to a blazing start behind great shooting from Russell Westbrook, who knocked down 8 of his first 10 shots. Unfortunately, he missed 13 of his final 14 to finish the game with 25 points and 7 assists. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points to go along with 9 rebounds. Once again, the team also got some solid production from a few of their other key players.

Jeff Green scored 14 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, although his shooting was a bit off last night. But James Harden also had a nice night in a reserve role, dropping 16 points. Serge Ibaka also finsihed in double figures in scoring with 10 points, but made his greatest impact with a game high 15 rebounds.

If the Thunder can play like they did last night, then they can go as far as any team in the playoffs. Make no mistake about the fact that the defense must improve, but it was nice to see Nick Collison step up last night against Tony Parker and send the message that there will be no more easy layups. The foul was not intended to be a rough one, but it was meant to be hard enough - within the rules. It was not flagrant. It was not intentional.

But it was sent with a point behind it that this team is ready for whatever their opponents bring.

With the NBA trade deadline set for 3 PM today, it appears as if the team you saw last night - and all season long for that matter - is the one that will head to the playoffs. I am not anticipating any deals of any significance to take place for this team. They do have a few pieces that could net them some solid role players, but my guess at this point is that Sam Presti will stand pat and continue to develop the current roster.

The Thunder still have a couple of more challenging games, starting Friday night in Orlando against the Magic, as well as hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon. This is an important stretch for Oklahoma City, and they need to take at least one of the next two games to prove to themselves - as well as their critics - that they are here to play.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24...






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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Thu, 24 Feb 2011 16:34:56 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/hot-start-cool-finish-dooms-thunder.html
Thunder Throttle Clips; 'Melo Moves On & a Project Spurs Preview... http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-throttle-clips-melo-moves-on-a-a-project-spurs-preview.html

The Oklahoma City Thunder tipped off the unofficial second half of the NBA season in fine fashion last night, wiping out hometown kid Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers, 111-89. It was a great all around effort from the Thunder, who got solid production by a few players not named Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. This team needs everyone to contribute if they expect to make a run in the playoffs, and last night was a step in the right direction.

Jeff Green led the way with 22 points, while James Harden also had a great game with 19 points off the bench. Durant had 21 points and 8 rebounds, which is an off night for him, while Westbrook finished with 13 points and 7 assists. Both had an off night as far as field goals were concerned, shooting a combined 11-32 from the field. Thankfully, the rest of the team shot 26-46 for the night.

But nobody is talking about the action on the court. The Denver Nuggets got the ball rolling with the upcoming trade deadline by finally trading away Carmelo Anthony. 'Melo was sent to the one team he wanted to play for all along - the New York Knicks. With only a day to go before the deadline comes and goes, a few other names are expected to be on the move, yet none as high profile as Anthony.



Unfortunately, I am not expecting any major movement out of the Thunder, and I'm not sure they will make a move at all, although I would love to see them acquire a big bodied defender. Expect them to stand pat, although they have a few attractive trade pieces, including Green, Nick Collison and Morris Peterson's expiring contract.

But tonight, look for the regular players who are normally in the Thunder's lineup to take on the San Antonio Spurs on the road. It is never easy to face the Spurs, especially on the road. For a look at tonight's matchup, I was fortunate enough to speak with Jeff Garcia of Project Spurs - http://projectspurs.com/ - who will guide us through tonight's huge matchup out west. After you read this interview, make sure to stop by Project Spurs to read my interview at Garcia's site at http://www.projectspurs.com/2011-articles/february/san-antonio-spurs-vs-oklahoma-city-thunder-gameday-qaa.html.

Kelley: Do you feel as if San Antonio is more or less a lock for the #1 seed in the West come playoff time?

Garcia: For as much as the Spurs have been cruising this season, they hold a six game lead over the Dallas Mavericks and with 26 more games remaining on the Spurs schedule, I am not ready to say they are a lock.

Dallas, which is the Spurs biggest threat right now, has been playing at a high level despite losing Dirk Nowitzki for some time and losing Caron Butler for possibly the season.

An injury here, a bad couple of games for the Spurs and Dallas is knocking on the door of the number one seed.

This Spurs team cannot rest on their laurels. They have to play as if they are tied with Dallas in the conference. If they do that then the number one seed is theirs if it's not already.

Kelley: Much has been said about Tim Duncan being named to the All-Star team. What are your thoughts?

Garcia: I honestly felt Tony Parker should have made it over Duncan. Even Duncan said it“I wish Tony (Parker) could be here. He deserves to be here, he’s had an excellent year so far. I think if he can grow a couple of inches the next couple of days, I’d trade (spots) with him.”

 
In the end, it just made sense to add Duncan. Yao Ming couldn't play, leaving a gap at center for the West squad.



Kelley: Manu Ginobili is having a career year of sorts. Can he keep up this pace into the postseason?

Garcia: That my friend is the big question. The Spurs are a Manu Ginobili ankle injury away from derailing any momentum heading into the playoffs.

They go, as he goes.

He does have a history of injuries and with his style of play, every game is nerve-racking for Spurs fans.

However, the summer rest, deciding not to play for Argentina at the Worlds, seeningly has paid off for him and knowing Manu, he can and will play at this pace if it means hoisting another NBA trophy in June.

Kelley: Will the Spurs be involved in any trade talks over the next day or so?

Garcia: Highly doubtful. Right now the Spurs main needs are depth in the middle, and perimeter defense. There was a report they were interested in Cavaliers' Anthony Parker but my initial reaction was to think "pass."  He is old, slow, and cannot play defense.

Basically, the Spurs do not have any players to dangle and the players another team will want, I doubt the Spurs will offer. Players like George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, etc. are enticing for other teams but that would mean squandering the Spurs future.

If anything, they will add some player off waiver wires. However, there have been reports Blazers' Joel Pryzbilla would seek a buyout or retire if traded. If the Spurs can manage to get him then that would be a tremendous pick up.

Kelley: Can this current Spurs team dethrone the Lakers in the West? If so, how?



Garcia: Yes! The Spurs have beaten LA twice this season but it won't be easy. The Spurs have better depth at the point guard position with Parker and Hill. We all know quick guards cause havoc for the Lakers. Also, the Spurs bench is better in comparison.

Another point is the Lakers look tired. To lose to the Cavaliers like they did exposes a huge chink in their armor. That chink being this LA team has issues on the court. Artest isn't Artest anymore, Bryant is playing hurt and is a step slower, Barnes has been out with an injury and recovering from surgery, and Fisher will not be able to contend with Parker and Hill.

But like I said it will not be easy.

Kelley: Predictions for tonight's game?

Garcia: Spurs and Thunder game have been pretty much one-sided this season with the Spurs beating them twice. Since this is a home game for San Antonio, and the Spurs seemingly having the Thunder's number, I'm going to go with Spurs getting the win.

I would like to thank Garcia for his time, but we will of course have to agree to disagree regarding tonight's outcome!

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24... 
 
 
Beat the NBA odds this winter when you rely on the NBA picks offered by top experts.  
 








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test@testing.com (#test) Wed, 23 Feb 2011 15:10:19 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-throttle-clips-melo-moves-on-a-a-project-spurs-preview.html
Thunder All-Star Weekend Returns: Serge Got Screwed While Durant, Westbrook and Harden Shine http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-all-star-weekend-returns-serge-got-screwed-while-durant-westbrook-and-harden-shine.html

The early returns are in when it comes to how the Oklahoma City Thunder fared at the 2011 NBA All-Star weekend. James Harden  was excellent in the Rookie Challange on Friday night. Russell Westbrook just got nosed out of the Skills Challenge on Saturday night, which also saw Kevin Durant fail to reach the finals of the 3-Point Shootout and Serge Ibaka get screwed out of the Slam Dunk Contest. That was the first couple of nights.

As for the game itself, Durant scored 34 points, which was second only to Kobe Bryant, who finished with a game high 37 on his way to capturing yet another All-Star Game MVP award. Westbook finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists in just 14 minutes of action.

But while Sunday went quite well, the one thing I will take away most from this past weekend is how Ibaka got absolutely robbed in the dunk competition.

I have no problem that Blake Griffin won the event. That was a foregone conclusion, considering it took place in Los Angeles. Everyone knew he would advance to the finals and win the fans vote. That was as easy of a call as Justin Bieber winning the MVP in the Celebrity Game on Friday night. What do you think the demographics were when it came to online voting?

All I know is that Julius Erving jumped from well within the free throw line. He won the contest. Michael Jordan was right on it, and he also won. So did Brent Barry, as unimpressive as that seems to be as we look back now. Ibaka took off well before the free throw line. Not only did he fail to receive a 50, but he did not even advance to the finals.

No offense to Griffin and JaVale McGee, but that was ridiculous.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24.

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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Mon, 21 Feb 2011 16:04:57 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/thunder-all-star-weekend-returns-serge-got-screwed-while-durant-westbrook-and-harden-shine.html
The 10 Most Obscure Players to Win Contests During NBA All-Star Weekend http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/the-10-most-obscure-players-to-win-contests-during-nba-all-star-weekend.html

The 2011 NBA All-Star weekend is upon us, and as always, there is plenty to offer for every fan. Beginning with tonight, you can catch the Rookies vs. Sophomores game. It is basically just a younger All-Star game for those new to the league. Rest assured that there will be absolutely no defense played in this game either. You can first watch the Celebrity Game, but how many times in a row can you watch Chris Tucker's waistline expand?

On Saturday, you can check out the Shooting Stars contest, which pits an NBA player with a WNBA player and a retired legend to compete in a horse type of compteition. After that is the Skills competition amongst some of the game's best point guards. Closing it out on Saturday night are the 3-point and Slam Dunk contests. It all concludes with the All-Star game itself on Sunday night.

This weekend, all of the stars will be out - both on and off the court. You get to see the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and countless others. It is a great mix between young stars and future hall of famers who are nearing the end of their illustrious careers. The big names always come out and compete during the NBA All-Star weekend.

But so do some of the obscure ones. Yes, legends such as Larry Bird, Glen Rice and Ray Allen have won the 3-point contest. And sure, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Vince Carter have captured the Slam Dunk title. Those are the names we all remember, no matter how casual of a fan you are.

But what about some of the one-hit wonders? There are so many of them. And I'm not even talking about some of the participants who failed to perform well at all. I'm going to strictly stick to the players who won either one of these contests, and you tell me how many of them you actually remember.

Without further ado, here is my top 10 list of the most obscure players to ever win a 3-point or Slam Dunk competition:

10. Voshon Leonard - 2004 3 point winner: Leonard won the contest while a member of the Denver Nuggets. Believe it or not, he once averaged 30 points per game - in the CBA. He was a star at the University of Minnesota, and went on to play for a handful of NBA teams. Much to my surprise, he averaged almost 12 points per game in the NBA. Still...



9. Dee Brown - 1991 Slam Dunk winner: He won the contest as a member of the Boston Celtics. Many players still try and mimick his no-look dunk today, but nobody can replicate what Brown did. Even if his eyes were really open.



8. Desmond Mason - 2001 Slam Dunk winner: Mason was a star at Oklahoma State. He was one of the best players in Cowboys' history. That success did not carry over to the NBA. He was still kicking around recently, but Mason was best known for winning the dunk contest at a time where it was a dying art.

7. Jason Kapono - 2007 and 2008 3-point winner: He won the contest twice and did so for two different teams. Without looking at the picture, could you really name either team?

 

6. Tim Legler - 1996 3-point winner: Aside from being that guy on ESPN, how many of you remember that Legler actually played? He stuck around for awhile, but is still only known for the one season he shot lights out from behind the line and won the competition in San Antonio.

5. Gerald Green - 2007 Slam Dunk winner: Green was highly touted coming out of high school, but never lived up to expectations, which is so often the case. The best thing he did was wear a Dee Bown Celtics jersey when he won the contest while attempting to copy Brown's dunk from 1991. Oh, and the guy he jumped over? Mr. Bown himself.

 

4. Craig Hodges - 1990, 1991 and 1992 3-point winner: Hodges won three straight - like Larry Bird. He also won a pair of NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Don't you remember him with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the team every season? I grew up watching the Bulls and I barely remember him ever playing in a game. Yet he won this thing three times.

3. Cedric Ceballos - 1992 Slam Dunk winner: This is somewhat misleading, because Ceballos actually had a couple of decent seasons with the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. But he put on a blindfold to win the dunk contest and that jumpstarted his career.

2. Harold Miner - 1993 and 1995 Slam Dunk winner: "Baby Jordan" did win the contest twice - much like the real Jordan. The similarities end there.



1. Fred Jones - 2004 Slam Dunk winner: Who?

Exactly.

Entering this weekend, the two names who could join this list - with no disrespect to either one - would be if Dorrell Wright wins the 3-point contest or if JaVale McGee wins the Slam Dunk contest.

Again, no disrespect.

* Make sure to follow Kelley on Twitter @RobKelley24 for all things obscure in the world of sports... 

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robkelley24@gmail.com (Rob Kelley) Fri, 18 Feb 2011 16:44:42 GMT http://www.thunderballers.com/2011-articles/february/the-10-most-obscure-players-to-win-contests-during-nba-all-star-weekend.html