I have to admit that, after watching Rudy's demeanor during dunk practice today, I was nervous. Nervous that Rudy was nervous. Nervous that Rudy was going to get embarrassed by some of the most athletic guys in the NBA, and maybe even the world.
But as anyone who watched the dunk contest knows, that wasn't the case. Rudy threw down the most inventive and technically difficult dunks of the night.
Sporting a vintage Fernando Martin jersey, Rudy threw the ball behind his back off the backboard, finished with the slam while drifting away from the basket. You ever seen that before, because I haven't. I've seen guys dunk over tall guys. I've seen guys double-pump. I've even seen guys jump really high and from in front of the free throw line to dunk, but I've never seen someone go behind the back off the backboard for a dunk.
And it wasn't just the dunk; it was the effortless with which Rudy executed it. First try. Seemed like nothing. Does that take away from it for some people, specifically the judges? If anything, he should be rewarded for making it look so easy. And this is from a guy who has played in three games over the last four days.
The second dunk was equally ridiculous. Last year, Dwight Howard did a version of that dunk, but he threw the ball himself and with no angle. Much easier. I don't recall what score he got for that dunk, but I'm guessing it was higher than the 42 Rudy was given. He was probably penalized by the judges for the number of attempts it took to get it right, but it didn't take any more time than driving in a forklift or hanging out in a cardboard box.
If Pau puts that pass on the money the first time, does Rudy make the second round? I guess we'll never know.
The dunk contest is alive and well, which is the good thing, but it's only going to stay that way if guys keeping bringing it fresh every year. The same plays pulling the same props win every time, then we're going to the point where, once again, nobody cares about the event. That doesn't serve anybody.
Just about every member I talked to after the game thought Rudy should have made the second round, but what do we know? Heck, none of us even played for the Suns a decade ago.
As far as the TNT announcers go, I'm reminded of the famous Mark Twain quote: It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
To his credit, Rudy didn't complain a bit about the judging (at least in English; no promises about what he said in his native tongue.) More than anything, I think he was relieved he was done. And I think he probably surprised himself a bit too.
As for the dunks gone undunked, Rudy said afterward he was going to pull the much anticipated rainbow kick dunk if he made the second round, but unfortunately the world was robbed of that opportunity. Maybe Rudy will give it a go when we get back to Portland.
So lets here it Trail Blazers fans. What did you think of Rudy's performance? Surprised? Underwhelmed? Excited for a possible return next season? Speaking for myself, I couldn't be prouder of the guy. Way to go Rudy, you're a winner in my book.
EDIT: I've noticed that people have been asking about the rules regarding the time limit. Here is the official rules regarding time limits and final attempts.
TIME LIMIT - Upon receiving the ball from the referee, players will have 2:00 time limit to complete their dunk. Attempts resulting in missed dunks are unlimited during the 2:00 time period. However, once a made dunk is ruled by the referee, that dunk will be scored. There is no replacing a made dunk, even if time remains.I think that vindicates Rudy's second dunk, as it came on the second attempt after time expired, but I could be wrong.
FINAL ATTEMPTS - If a player has not begun an attempt that results in a made dunk when the 2:00 clock expires, he will have two final attempts to do so. An attempt is defined as the ball leaving the player's (or his teammate's) hand in an effort to complete the dunk (in any motion other than dribbling). The referee is the final judge and will advise the dunker when they have used an attempt.