LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin leaped over a car and threw down a two-handed dunk to the accompaniment of a gospel choir, winning the slam dunk contest in iconic style before his hometown fans on All-Star Saturday.
The Los Angeles Clippers' rookie caught a pass out of the sunroof from teammate Baron Davis and easily cleared the 2011 Kia Optima's hood while the Crenshaw Select Choir sang "I Believe I Can Fly" at midcourt.
The inventive slam drove home the obvious point of the All-Star weekend's silly Saturday: Griffin has both the raw athleticism and the showtime flair to be the NBA's next big star.
With an entire building solidly behind Griffin, finalist Javale McGee of Washington and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan really didn't stand a chance despite their own creative dunks at Staples Center.
Earlier, Miami's James Jones held off Boston teammates Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to win his first 3-point shootout, and Golden State's Stephen Curry won the Skills Challenge.
But All-Star Saturday was a showcase for Griffin, who started the contest with an irresistibly 360-degree spin dunk before converting a bounce pass off the side of the backboard in the first round.
The first rookie All-Star in eight years then brought back an impossibly difficult favorite with his first dunk of the final, sticking his arm into the hoop and hanging from it by his elbow, just as Vince Carter did while winning the 2000 contest.
And when fans saw the car driving out of the arena tunnel, this contest already seemed to be over.
Griffin is in the midst of the busiest All-Star weekend in the NBA's recent history. He scored 14 points in the Rookie Challenge, and he stayed in the dunk contest even after getting chosen for the West squad in Sunday's main event.
The forward from Oklahoma is averaging 22.8 points and 12.6 rebounds as the strong rookie of the year favorite for the Clippers, but he's best known around the world for his astonishing dunking skills, combining the hops of a guard with a center's raw strength.
All four dunkers distinguished themselves in Hollywood, showing planning and invention in what's sometimes a slapdash event — but Griffin was the overwhelming favorite for nearly every All-Star gathered at Staples Center, and he didn't disappoint.
After DeRozan opened the contest by catching a pass off the backboard and putting it between his legs for a slick one-handed jam, Serge Ibaka took the court amid several banners for NBA Africa and promptly threw down a Dr. J-style long-jump dunk from the free throw line.
McGee then got creative, ordering a second basket standard attached to a forklift and placed right next to the hoop. After several misses, he managed to throw down a left-handed dunk while tossing the other ball off the backboard to himself for a right-handed jam, earning a perfect 50.
After several misses on his second attempt, Griffin caught a pass off the side of the backboard from Davis for a one-handed jam that was enough to send him into the second round.
McGee joined him after dunking three balls on the same leap, slapping home a pass for the third jam. DeRozan couldn't make the final round despite an impressive second dunk in which he threw a pass to himself off the backboard for a windmill reverse jam.
After Griffin's elbow dunk in the final, McGee floated underneath the rim and threw down an impossibly twisting jam from the other side.
That's when Griffin rolled out his wheels.
McGee made another difficult dunk in his final attempt, but Griffin received 68 percent of the fan voting that determines the final result.
Curry beat Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in the final round to win the Skills Challenge early on All-Star Saturday.
A three-person team from Atlanta won the Shooting Stars competition in the first event at the NBA All-Star weekend's silly Saturday.
And thanks to Jones' smooth shooting stroke, the Heat finally beat the Celtics at something this season.
The Heat's outside specialist held off Boston's duo of Pierce and Allen in the shootout, scoring 20 points in the final round
Jones, an eight-year veteran who rarely shoots inside the 3-point line, made five straight shots late in the final round with his consistent, ground-bound style. Just a supporting player on the star-laden Heat, Jones said he benefited from shooting first in the three-man final, relieving any pressure.
- Wild one: Memphis edges BYU in...
- Dick Harmon: Presence of injured stars looms...
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in brawl between BYU...
- Gordon Hayward happy to be moving on with...
- BYU-Memphis an 'intriguing' bowl matchup
- Brad Rock: This is where conference switch...
- Rapid Fire: Hamson cements her legacy; Utah...
- Utes capped comeback season with lopsided Las...
- Wild one: Memphis edges BYU in... 105
- Big winner: Utes hit jackpot early and... 55
- Hamson and Gray step up big to get BYU... 45
- Brad Rock: This is where conference... 36
- Ranking the biggest bowl games in... 28
- Dick Harmon: Presence of injured stars... 26
- Miami Beach Bowl ends in brawl between... 25
- Tyler Haws scores 24 as BYU holds off... 21