Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Larry Nance skipped the Slam Dunk Championship, but Kenny Walker just might have beaten them anyway.
A late addition to the field because of all the minor injuries, Walker delivered a series of 360-degree power dunks to defeat runner-up Clyde Drexler, former champion Spud Webb and the rest in the showcase event of All-Star Saturday in the Summit. In other events, Dale Ellis won the 3-point shooting contest and not even a wild finish upstaged Hot Rod Hundley's role in the Legends Classic.After Webb and Philadelphia's Shelton Jones were eliminated in the slam-dunk semifinals, Portland's Drexler took all the mystery out of the finals by missing twice - both after taking off just inside the free-throw line. He'd have had trouble matching Walker anyway.
"First, I have one question: Where has this guy been?" Drexler wanted to know afterward. "For him not to be invited originally was amazing."
Walker's father died Wednesday, but his mother convinced him to compete. "I've always been a good dunker," he said. "I've always tried to pattern myself after Dominique Wilkins."
And he made up for the absence of Jordan and Wilkins. "That might have taken a little steam out of it, but these new guys heated it up," said Drexler.
***** With three-time defending champ Larry Bird still injured, the Long Distance Shootout was wide open. The Soviet entrant, Rimas Kurtinaitis, finished last in the first round and was eliminated, along with Danny Ainge and others.
Seattle's Ellis defeated Chicago's Craig Hodges 19-15 in the finals, making seven-straight shots. Ellis made 16 of 25 3-pointers in the allotted 60 seconds, with three bonus points.
Last year, Ellis finished second to Bird. "Some of the new guys were a little tense, and that makes it a little difficult," noted Ellis. "To win something like this gives you bragging rights . . . It's just one more step in my having great confidence."
***** Calvin Murphy's 3-pointer at the horn gave the West a 54-53 win in the Legends Classic, after Bobby Jones had stolen a pass and driven for a three-point play with six seconds left.
The most exciting play of the first half was Morganna making Hundley, the Jazz broadcaster, her second Jazz victim of the season. In November, the Kissing Bandit struck Frank Layden in the Salt Palace.
"I was absolutely stunned by that," said Hundley. "I didn't know how to react. My first thought when I regained my senses was maybe I should have fainted, like Frank."
Playing nine minutes of the 24-minute game - with a running clock - Hundley missed a hook shot and an open jumper but had three rebounds. "Too tired," said Hundley, the oldest legend at 54. "My legs were like rubber."
Hundley's Jazz Cable broadcast partner, Zelmo Beaty, was also scoreless for the East. Murphy had 26 points and ex-University of Utah guard Mike Newlin, who delivered the winning assist, added 14 for the West.