By InsideHoops.com

It’s 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend, and the hottest Saturday night event is up: the Slam Dunk contest.

Jamario Moon went first, started from the right side, lobbed it high, lept, 360-jumped, caught it just as he was completing the 360, and slammed. Beautiful. He has huge extension and great hang-time. Judges gave him a 46 out of 50.

Rudy Gay is next. He started from the right side, ran at the rim without dribbling, rocked it back and forth, and missed. And then did it again, slamming with the left hand. It was sweet but not mind-boggling, and he got a 37.

Big Dwight Howard is third. And he’s starting from out of bounds, behind back of the right side of the basket. He bounced it off the back of the backboard, caught it, soared from behind the basket to the front side of it, and missed — but the attempt itself was awesome. And then did it again, this time putting it down, almost hitting his head on the rim. He caught it off the back of the backboard with two hands, swung it around, and put it down with the left hand. Absolutely beautiful. Judges gave him a perfect 50.

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Defending champion Gerald Green is last but not least. Assistant Rashad McCants is holding a cupcake with a candle in it, and using a ladder climbs up, puts the cupcake on the back of the rim, on the support that connects it to the backboard. McCants then lit the candle. Green is apparently going to dunk, while blowing the candle out! This seems both dangerous and impossible. Yet - bam! - he got it! Insane! He caught the lob, put it down with two hands dunking on the left side of the rim and successfully blew the candle out! Judges gave him a mere 46. I thought he got robbed.

And now, the second set of dunks.

First up is Rudy Gay, assisted by Kyle Lowry. They both started from the deep left corner, with Lowry dribbling, Gay following. Lowry then bounced the ball off the back of the basket support, and Gay caught it on his left side and wrapped it around to his right side, dunking it nicely. It was impressive and creative but not quite as awesome as what Dwight Howard did. Judges gave it a 48, which may have been a point or two high.

Next is Jamario Moon, assisted by Jason Kapono. They’re putting white tape on the ground, almost a foot behind the free throw line. It would be mind-boggling if he really takes off from there. And now it appears Kapono is going to be near the basket and bounce the ball high up in the paint. And misses the first attempt. Moon did hit the second, but the tape on the ground was pointless — Moon took off about a foot inside the free throw line, which is still absolutely incredible. Judges gave him a 48.

Gerald Green is third. A ladder is in the paint again, with MCants climbing it and sitting on the top. The ladder is positioned slightly to the right of the rim. McCants is holding the ball in one arm, which is extended so he’s holding the ball in front o the rim. Just as Green launched himself up, Mccants flipped it up so Green could grab it with two hands, windmill it and slam it down. Awesome. He got a 48.

And now, Dwight Howard, assisted by Jameer Nelson. More white tape. And then Nelson reveals a red Superman cape. Then Howard, smiling, pulls off his away magic jersey to reveal a sleeveless Superman top. Howard then puts the cape on (everyone who reads the InsideHoops.com nba rumors page knew he was going to do this). The crowd loves it. Howard then stands at the baseline, center-court, right side, runs in, catches a pass, leaps from the dotted circle, soars high in the air and is up so high that rather than dunk it, he literally throws it down. A throw-dunk. Like how you might throw a crumpled up piece of paper down into a garbage can. That is possibly the most awesome dunk I’ve ever seen, aside maybe from some stuff Vince Carter did years ago. He got another perfect 50.

Total points at the end of the first round: Howard 100, Green 91, Moon 90, Gay 85.

We’re in the second and final round, with Howard against defending champion Green.

Green is up first, starting from the left elbow in three-point range, McCants, standing behind the basket on the right, is lobbing it over the top of the backboard. After some imperfect passes, and then one miss, Green came in, caught with two hands, windmilled it through his legs and slammed it down with one hand. Awesome.

No scores are being reported. It’s just picking one of the finalists or the other, after the dunks are over. Each judge has one vote, and the collective fan world, voting on the league’s official site or through text message, combine to have one vote.

Howard is up. He started from the right side, halfcourt, lobbed it, so it bounced in the paint, ran, jumped, and in mid air tapped it with his left hand against the backboard, then caught it off the glass with his right hand and dunked it. That is one of the most amazing dunks ever, second only to stuff InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner does in secret gyms against NBA players during the off-season.

Green, trying to be creative, took his shoes off, autographed them, put them on the judges table, and did a through-the-legs windmill. It was a slightly lesser version of his earlier dunk, minus the shoes.

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For the final dunk, Howard’s assistant, Jameer Nelson, has put a little Nerf-looking mini-hoop on the lower right corner of the front of the backboard, and then rested a full-sized basketball on it. Howard is starting from the right side of the court, outside the three-point elbow. He runs in, jumps, takes the ball off the little rim and tires to slam, but misses. And then runs in, takes it off the little rim, windmills it and slams it in. It was the least impressive of his dunks tonight, and the only one he did that didn’t truly wow the crowd, but it was still very good.

And now, the voting.

The judges picked Dwight Howard. So, he’s going to win, regardless of what the fan voting says. That’s assuming I understand how the voting works this year. And the fan vote is in: 70% voted for Dwight Howard.

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