NEW ORLEANS — It was hard to tell what shocked fans more, the NBA's new dunk contest rules or a performance by Vanilla Ice.
Maybe contest organizers should think twice, twice baby.
Washington's John Wall was declared the winner in fan voting Saturday night at the Smoothie King Center … even though he didn't get a chance to compete against fellow champions Paul George and Terrence Ross.
The trio swept head-to-head competitions against counterparts from the Western Conference as part of a “battle round” that left fans and other NBA players fighting mad on social media.
“Wait, what?” tweeted Detroit's Charlie Villanueva.
There seemed to be a consensus that Wall executed the best dunk after he grabbed a ball from Wizards mascot G-Man, brought it down and finished with a two-handed reverse. But many fans tweeted that they wanted the competition to continue.
“I think it was cool,” said Wall, who got the idea for his dunk off a YouTube video someone sent him. “It was fun.”
Wall defeated Sacramento's Ben McLemore, who staged a grand entrance when he walked onto the court in a lavish robe alongside Kings minority owner Shaquille O'Neal and a squire who proclaimed that the town would now be known as Shaq-Lemore. McLemore then dunked over O'Neal seated on a throne before O'Neal rose to place a crown on his head.
As part of the new format, the competitors performed as teammates in the opening round, often lobbing each other passes. Judges Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Magic Johnson unanimously declared the East as winners, which gave them the right to decide whether they would go first or second in the next round.
Just when it seemed things couldn't get any weirder, Vanilla Ice performed between rounds.
After airballing two of his shots in the first round, San Antonio's Marco Belinelli defeated Washington's Bradley Beal, 24-18, in the tiebreaker portion of the three-point competition. Beal had made his final six shots in the final round to force the tiebreaker.
Portland's Damian Lillard teamed with Utah's Trey Burke to win the skills competition by one one-hundredth of a second over Philadelphia's Michael-Carter Williams and Orlando's Victor Oladipo. It was the second consecutive victory for Lillard in the competition, a timed obstacle course relay consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting.
The team of Chris Bosh, Wilkins and Swin Cash defended its title in the Shooting Stars competition that involved making shots from a variety of spots on the court as quickly as possible. Bosh made a pair of half-court shots to lead his team.
New Commissioner Adam Silver said he planned to revisit implementing a 20-year-old minimum age requirement to improve the quality of basketball in the NBA and in college.
“It is my belief that if players have an opportunity to mature as players and as people for a longer amount of time before they come into the league, it will lead to a better league,” Silver said in his first All-Star media conference. “ … I think it would have the same impact on college as well.”
An increased age requirement was discussed but ultimately put aside during the last round of collective bargaining with the players' union in 2011. Silver called the absence of a permanent executive director of the players' union “a hindrance to a certain extent” in addressing issues such as the age limit.
said he would also consider examining modifying the draft lottery, centralizing instant replay in a model similar to the one used by the NHL and increasing the length of the All-Star break by a few days to give players additional rest.
Silver said expansion was not imminent but indicated he would like “a harder system to distribute players better as opposed to the tax system we have in place right now.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun