Jones steals show at dunk competition
Portland native gets upset win in NBA All-Star contest
LOS ANGELES Ñ As a youngster growing up in Northeast Portland, Fred Jones had a dream.
On Saturday night before the grandest stage in all of basketball, Jones realized it.
'I have been dreaming about this moment since the first time I could dunk in eighth grade,' Jones said after winning the slam-dunk contest during All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center.
Call it Indiana Jones' greatest adventure. The second-year Pacers guard out of Barlow High and the University of Oregon joins a list of winners that includes Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter.
Not bad company. And Jones bested two-time defending champion Jason Richardson of Golden State, though Richardson was his own worst enemy, missing enough dunks to make those who paid $150 a ticket to watch the show wonder why they had gone to the trouble.
Jones missed out on his last two final-round attempts, too, but not for lack of ingenuity. His accomplice was an old pal from P-town Ñ Brandon Brooks, the one-time Jefferson High star whose career at Southern Cal was cut short by a leg injury.
Standing in a lower-level aisle, Brooks tossed up a feed that bounced once and put the ball near the rim. Twice, Jones tried to swoop in from the opposite side with a one-hand stuff. Twice, he missed, though the second time, the ball bounced through the basket. Fortunately for Jones, Richardson missed on his final attempt, too, handing the title to the Pacer guard.
The idea came while Jones and Brooks Ñ AAU teammates during their days growing up in Portland Ñ chatted at Jones' hotel Friday night.
'Brandon is one of the most creative dudes I know,' Jones said. 'He said, 'I got something for you that is going to kill them. You are going to win this thing.' '
Jones had won five of six dunk contests in which he participated while in high school and college, and Brooks had been on hand for several of them.
'One of Freddie's dunks in high school gyms is to throw it off the back wall,' Brooks said. 'In pro arenas, you are not able to do that. I tried to think of something else. The pass from the stands, I thought it would be catchy for the All-Star Game.'
The pair never got a chance to practice the stunt.
'When we got to the arena, we started talking about it and tried to see how we could do it,' Jones said. 'That's when we decided exactly what we were going to do.'
Good idea, but Jones couldn't quite pull it off.
'Brandon put (the pass) on the money,' he said. 'I just didn't do my job.'
The 6-2, 220-pound Jones Ñ shortest of the four contestants Ñ had earlier received two perfect 50 scores from the five-man judging panel comprised of ex-Laker greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes and James Worthy.
Jones' parents, family and several friends flew down from Portland for the competition.
'It was fun out there,' Jones said. 'That is all I came here to do, to have fun and make sure my family and friends have a good time. If (Brooks) can come back with me next year, we will make that dunk.'