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Blake Griffin’s legend gets a big boost

The legend of Blake Griffin has just gone turbo.

Did you see him? The human hood ornament? The windshield swiper? The man who literally gave car a jump?

On Saturday night in front of a Staples Center crowd that howled in disbelief, the Clippers rookie who spent the first half of this season dunking on mere men put it in the face of a machine.

Yep, the dude dunked over a car.

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Taking a pass from teammate Baron Davis through the sunroof of a silver 2011 Kia Optima, Griffin soared over the hood to slam the ball in the basket before landing back on that hood with his arms raised in triumph.

Yep, the dude won the NBA’s 26th Slam Dunk Contest with arguably the best finish ever.

“He jumped over a car,” said Minnesota’s Kevin Love, shaking his head. “You don’t see that too often.”

Even on a night that was set up to crown Griffin as the NBA’s most entertaining flier, the flourish was amazing. He was supposed to win, but who thought the quiet kid would do it with such swagger and style?

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For his first dunk, he spun through the air with a complete 360. On another dunk, he finished with his elbow in the rim, hanging there for effect.

Before his final dunk, Griffin actually summoned out a Crenshaw choir to serenade his attempt with “I Believe I Can Fly.”

“It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen by a Clipper,” shouted “Clipper Darrell” Bailey, the team’s unofficial mascot who showed up in his customary Clipper robes. “It was the greatest Clipper victory ever.”

That Davis tossed Griffin the ball from inside the car was another landmark moment, according to my colleague Chris Foster, who noted it was the first time a Clipper had ever been in the driver’s seat.

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OK, we’ll shush and let the Clips enjoy this. Although Brent Barry actually won this competition as a Clipper in 1996, this might have indeed been the Clippers’ finest moment on a national stage, and you have to wonder what sort of magic Griffin has left for Sunday’s All-Star game.

“It’s been an unbelievably crazy weekend,” Griffin said afterward. “At the same time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to do all these things like that and I just wanted to have fun with it.”

Once in a lifetime not just for him, but for those of us who witnessed probably the greatest dunk contest ever. How good was it? The second-place finisher, Washington’s JaVale McGee, lost despite dunking balls into adjacent baskets on one leap, and then dunking three balls at once. Serge Ibaka of Oklahoma City lost even though he dunked a ball while grabbing a stuffed animal off the rim with his teeth.

“Nothing’s going to beat a car unless I bring out a plane or something,” McGee said.

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So, first question Blake, whose idea was the car?

“It was actually my idea,” he said."When they first came to me with the dunk contest idea, they said there was no rules. I was like, ‘So I can jump over a car?’”

Second question, seeing how they’ve had countless seasons derailed with major injuries, how on the earth did the Clippers allow this?

“I noticed when I went in for my rehearsal Thursday night, everybody from the Clippers was there … and then I realized, everybody is kind of nervous about this,” he said."So I jumped over it and I kind of looked at them and they are like, all right, you can do it.”

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Can you, um, understand their reluctance?

“I understand why, but I guess they don’t trust me enough,” he said.

Who can trust this? A Clipper who is capturing the national imagination with every squeak of his sneakers? A Clipper who is not only living up to expectations, but exceeding them? A Los Angeles athlete who is all Hollywood, and yet not even close to being Hollywood?

Immediately after winning the contest, Griffin told the crowd, “I want to dedicate to this to my best friend who passed away.”

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Indeed, he is going to give the winning trophy to the parents of Wilson Holloway, an Oklahoma high school teammate who died Wednesday of cancer.

That choir singing behind Blake Griffin was right.

We indeed believe he can fly.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

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twitter.com/billplaschke


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