Dwight Howard interview after winning 2008 Slam Dunk contest championship
2008 NBA All-Star Weekend is ongoing and last night, Orlando Magic star Dwight Howard put on the show of shows in winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Here's what Howard said to the media after being declared Slam Dunk champion.
Q. Last year it didn't go the way you thought it would go, what did you do this year, and how much planning did you put into it, and how does it feel to finally take that ball home?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, I think what I did was I fasted. Like two weeks before the Dunk Contest, I took away some things that I enjoyed doing: Eating candy, and listening to music, and I think that really got me focused for the Dunk Contest. Just, thank God, you know, for winning. It feels good.
Q. Can you take us through the three dunks. The first one, obviously from behind the backboard, Superman, and then that self alley-oop.
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, the first one I've been working on it for about two years. And I could never really get it done. I saw Iguodala did it, and I was working on it after that, coming up with my own little thing. I had my legs under me tonight and I got that one down.
And the second one, the Superman dunk, I really wanted to get the crowd into it and try to show a little bit of my personality. You know, putting the cape on, and Superman. I thought everybody liked it. I enjoyed it. And then to make the dunk to finish it, it was unbelievable.
And the third dunk, the self alley, I didn't think I was going to do that dunk tonight in the Dunk Contest. But I was getting a lot of calls and text messages from my friends. And they said I've got to do that dunk, I've got to let the world see it, and I had to do it.
Q. I thought you were going to bust out with the telephone booth. Was that part of the plan? Or you just kind of invented that, the cape?
DWIGHT HOWARD: The telephone booth? Oh, I didn't have time to get the telephone booth and all that. But I think the cape and the Superman, and the outfit, I think it worked.
Q. What was your first thought after winning the Dunk Contest?
DWIGHT HOWARD: It was just like, thank God, just for the opportunity to be in the Dunk Contest. And I really wanted to win it for all of the big men and all the people in general. Because everybody said I couldn't do it, and I believe in myself, and I believe I could do it. That's all I was saying in my head. I'm going to win the Dunk Contest, I'm going to win it. And it happened.
Q. Did Gerald force you at any time to change the order of your dunks? Because he came up with some pretty good stuff early as well.
DWIGHT HOWARD: Oh, no. I had my dunks down last week, and I wasn't going to change them for nothing, because I knew if I made them, it was going to work.
Q. To be the first center to do this and the biggest guy ever, what does that mean?
DWIGHT HOWARD: It means a lot. It's really for the big men, like I said. Everybody always says big men can't jump, and big men don't look good dunking. And I just tried to add a little bit of my personality. With me being so tall, I knew it was going to be tough. But I just tried to play to the crowd and have fun.
Q. You had said that yesterday you would come back, is this something that you want to keep doing? Like we had talked about stars don't compete in this event.
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, as you guys know I love dunking. 90% of my shots are dunks. So will I come back? I don't know. I'm getting old. I might have to retire from dunking and the Dunk Contest.
Q. Did you talk to Iguodala at all about the dunk that he inspired you? Did you ever talk to him about it?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Oh, no. I didn't. It was just one day I was at home, and I was like, man, let me try this dunk. I got to the gym and I tried to perfect it. I think it looked pretty good tonight.
Q. That's the behind the basket?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Yes, windmill.
Q. Have you ever tried to dunk in your socks? And if so, how hard is that?
DWIGHT HOWARD: I wouldn't try to dunk in my socks. My feet are too valuable. So, no, I'll stick with the shoes. That was an amazing dunk. He did it so fast, I didn't get a chance to see it. But to dunk in your socks and not hurt yourself, he's a good man.
Q. One more on Gerald, how impressed were you with the cupcake?
DWIGHT HOWARD: I kind of figured he had something like that planned. We were in the back working on dunks. And I saw him doing one dunk over and over. And I was like okay, he's got something up his sleeve. I think it was very impressive. At first I thought he was going to take the cupcake, eat it and then dunk it. I thought he would have won with that.
Q. Did you think about trying to put that mini basket up 12 feet and try to dunk on that?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, the first time I did the mini basket idea, I put it probably about 11 1/2 feet, but I couldn't do the same dunk that I did tonight. So I had to lower it and try to do something that everybody would like.
Q. You have a name for the Superman one, but do you have a name for the other three that you did, the Iguodala inspired one or the other two?
DWIGHT HOWARD: No, I don't have any names, but maybe you guys can come up with some good names for it.
Q. How much does YouTube offer creativity, and how much does that allow you freedom to get inspiration from other sources outside just from what's happened in previous dunk competitions?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, me and my teammates came up with all the ideas for the dunks. But YouTube is a great way find out about dunks. I think Jamario's first dunk came from a guy on YouTube. So it's a good way to find out about dunking. I like to dance, so I'm always on YouTube looking at dance videos.
Q. A lot of talk tonight about how this is exciting again, a lot of energy back in the building with the Dunk Contest, which has not been there before. Your thoughts going forward in terms of it being dead or an event that's now been revived?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, before the Dunk Contest we all decided that we're going to try to add as much flair and glare and personality as we could into the Dunk Contest this year. We first got out there and the fans were kind of iffy, they didn't really cheer. We just tried to do something to hype them up and loosen them up. I think the Dunk Contest is back.
Q. Creativity is the biggest aspect of the dunking contest. Now you guys add props, candles, ladders, tape, capes, what do you think that added to the whole contest?
DWIGHT HOWARD: Well, I think people like to see that. It's a big show. I don't think people want to see the same old dunks. They want to see something else, see some spice. And all the dunkers this year were trying to bring some spice to the Dunk Contest.
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