Shannon Brown’s mighty dunks put him in spotlight
Maybe it was the thousands of people who contributed to the “Let Shannon Dunk” movement on Facebook.
Or maybe it was Kobe Bryant’s saying he had never seen a player with better leaping ability than Shannon Brown.
Most likely, the Lakers’ reserve guard landed in the NBA’s dunk contest because there were just too many highlight-worthy dunks to be ignored.
Brown will join New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson and Charlotte Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace at the Feb. 13 event at American Airlines Center during All-Star weekend in Dallas. A fourth participant will be determined the day before the contest by a “dunk-off” between Clippers guard Eric Gordon and Toronto forward DeMar DeRozan, a rookie out of USC.
The Lakers haven’t had a player in the dunk competition since Bryant won it as a rookie in 1997. Antonio Harvey (1995) and Michael Cooper (1984) are the only other Lakers to have ever entered it.
Brown’s powerful dunks have made him a fan favorite at Lakers games. He made one of his biggest marks last season with a dunk over shot-blocking Denver Nuggets center Chris “Birdman” Andersen on a fastbreak in the Western Conference finals. Almost 275,000 people have viewed it on YouTube.
Brown, 24, reacted with an eager smile as reporters surrounded him before the Lakers’ game Monday against Orlando.
“It’s going to be something to watch,” Brown said of the contest. “I’m [going] to the drawing board now. I’ve got a couple ideas in my mind. I’m not going to give them away, but it’s going to be a great time.”
It took Brown exactly one game to lay the foundation for an appearance in the dunk contest this season. In an exhibition opener against the Golden State Warriors, he went coast to coast, dribbled down the right side of the lane and dunked over 7-foot center Mikki Moore, spinning before hitting the ground. It was the top trending topic on Twitter for a while that night.
Brown thanked fans who supported him in the social-media sphere. He also thanked Moore. “I don’t know where he’s playing,” Brown said, smiling, “I appreciate him too.”
Moore was waived by Golden State this month.
Brown, 24, was acquired last season from Charlotte along with Adam Morrison for Vladimir Radmanovic. He signed a two-year, $4.2-million contract to stay with the Lakers before the season began and was averaging 7.3 points and 18.4 minutes a game before Monday.
Robinson won the event last season and in 2006 and is trying to become the first player to win three dunk contests. Two of the four dunkers will advance to the final round and then will take turns completing two dunks each.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson isn’t a fan of All-Star weekend but said he would tune in to see Brown . . . in his own way.
“I probably will look at Shannon run down the court and jump up high and dunk,” Jackson said dryly. “I think it’s good for his career. A lot of players get a little jump-start out of that.”
Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl recently dragged Bryant into a conversation involving a question about Orlando center Dwight Howard.
“You are probably looking at the next great big man who has a chance to win the MVP,” he told reporters. “If his offense gets to 25 to 30 points a night combined with his defense and rebounding, he’ll be a great one. All of the other great big men have pretty much squeezed everything out of their talent. Well, [Pau] Gasol is a great one, but I don’t see Kobe ever letting him win the MVP.”
Karl was smiling when he said it. Or maybe that was a smirk, depending on perspective.