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Griner up for WNBA adding dunk contest

  • Article by: DOUG FEINBERG
  • AP Basketball Writer
  • July 26, 2013 - 4:20 PM

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Brittney Griner's eyes lighted up at the thought of the WNBA adding a dunk contest to its All-Star weekend festivities.

Griner won't be participating in the All-Star game Saturday because of a sprained left knee, but said she would come up with a trick or two for fans next time around if the league added a display of slams and jams to its festivities.

"Definitely would have something that the fans would love," the 6-foot-8 star said. "It would be a nice addition to the weekend and I got a couple of things I'd pull out for it."

Griner made a splash in her WNBA debut by dunking twice and puts on a show in warmups for the fans when she's healthy.

But even though she'd be the heavy favorite to win a dunk contest, don't hand her the title just yet. Among others, Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles, Elizabeth Cambage, Nneka Ogwumike and Maya Moore can all dunk.

"You have enough women in the league now where it could be a competitive, fun event. Back in the early days in the league it would have been a contest between Sylvia Crawley and Lisa Leslie," ESPN commentator Rebecca Lobo said. "Now you have possibly a dozen women. It would be entertaining and fun and that's what All-Star weekend is about."

Cambage became the first woman to dunk in the Olympics last summer when she effortlessly threw one down for Australia.

Parker can lay claim to already being a slam dunk champion. She beat future NBA stars Josh Smith and J.R. Smith to win the McDonalds High School All-American one in 2004.

"It would be a lot of fun," Parker said. "It would be a great addition to the All-Star weekend and we're getting there. I think in the near future, it will happen."

But for Parker to participate, it might have happen soon.

"This year I'm 27, I can't speak for when I'm 28, 29 and 30. This year I would 100 percent be in it," she said.

WNBA president Laurel Richie told The Associated Press that the idea has been talked about and is under consideration.

"We always are looking for new and innovative ways to showcase our incredible athletes," she said. "There are a number of ideas being discussed and that is one of them."

In the past, the league has had a skills competition and 3-point shootout, but neither is around anymore.

If the WNBA did add it, it wouldn't be the first of its kind. The now-defunct ABL had its own dunk contest 15 years ago with Sylvia Crawley coming away the winner after throwing one down blindfolded. The players have gotten a lot more athletic since then.

Eastern Conference coach Lin Dunn was there when the ABL's contest. She'd be all for adding it to the weekend.

"It was amazing," she said. "I vividly remember the fan reaction and how excited people were. It's something that we should poll the fans about. We ask them to vote for the starters, why not ask if they want to see a dunk contest. This weekend is about showcasing the best we have and entertaining the fans."

A dunk contest and 3-point shootout would be easy to add to All-Star festivities. The two teams had open practices Friday afternoon and the two competitions could easily be held afterward.

"It would be a pretty cool thing," Fowles said. "A lot more women who can get above the rim that's pretty cool to see."

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