Blake Griffin is blowing up the NBA this season like few players ever do. His numbers are off-the-charts for a rookie year and his impact on the excitement level (for both fans and players) is as dominant as his spectacular plays. Suns Coach Alvin Gentry called him the most exciting player to come in the league in years and honestly, if you are any kind of sports fan you already knew that.
Griffin will get his chance to take his legend to another level at the NBA All-Star weekend where he's the early favorite to destroy the field in the dunk contest. With the Suns having one of the greatest dunkers of all time on the roster, we asked Vince Carter for his thoughts on the young monster.
What are your general thoughts on Blake Griffin being in the dunk contest?
"I don't know. You have guys that can do a lot of different things. I've never really seen him do tricks, so I don't really know. He's the obvious favorite because of his ability to jump very high. I watched him yesterday do a windmill which I pretty much figured he could probably do."
Vince said that he's not watched the dunk contest in the last few years.
"They've changed it up. There's a lot of guys who they should let into the dunk contest who they don't allow in. I still feel like J.R. Smith should be in the dunk contest...If these guys want to be. I don't know how they choose them now. I wanted to be in it at that time. I'm not really interested in it now, I've been asked a lot.
"From what people said, (the dunk contest) hasn't been exciting. I think (Griffin) is going to bring excitement because of the anticipation. I know there was some anticipation to see what I was going to do. Some anticipation to see what Josh Smith was going to do at the time. Maybe J-Rich (Jason Richardson). Even Dwight (Howard). I was interested to see what Dwight was going to do. So, maybe I'll take a peek."
Is it harder for big guys to be impressive in the dunk contest?
"Yes. You have to come up with something that is out of the ordinary. Dwight, off the back of the backboard, off the side of the backboard, was creative because the first thing you think of with a dunker like Blake Griffin or JaVale McGee is well, he's 6-10, he's 7-feet, he should dunk the ball.
"For myself, what I want to see is creativity; what trick can you do with a simple dunk. You can take a simple dunk and spice it up a bit and the average person or the average dunker -- just a guy who can dunk a basketball -- when they go try that dunk they realize it's a little harder than it looks. That's what I like to see. For the big guys, that's what they have to beat."
Are you a purist or do you like all the props and costumes?
"I'm a purist, 100 percent. I want to see a guy do a trick with the ball. Case closed. Just like it used to be."
On your (34th) birthday you talked about the years of being a high-flyer and the effect that's had on your knees and legs. Looking at Blake Griffin, the way he plays, do you think he's going to have to dial it back?
"I don't know. You don't think about that. It's all about being as dominant as possible and creating his legend. That's what I would always think about. OK, near the end of my career I'm still thinking I still fly at the same level which, of course, in all reality is not going to happen.
"I'm like, go for it. You never know how long you're going to last in the league. Stick with it while it's hot."
Vince Carter in your prime versus Blake Griffin (in the dunk contest)?
"I'm going to always root for me, regardless -- even if he's better than me. It's not fair to compare the two right now because he hasn't done a dunk in a dunk contest. Now his in-game dunks, I pick him 100 percent. But right now, I'm winning the dunk contest because he hasn't dunked yet. It could be different after this."
In case you weren't around in 2000 for the dunk contest, here's Vince.