In celebration of the upcoming All-Star Weekend, the Wizards hosted a fun little three-point shoot out and trampoline slam dunk contest for members of the media on Tuesday. Obviously, I had to go.
And holy shiznit was it an eye-opening experience.
sort of demanded volunteered to come as the Bullets Forever representative. I'm not athletic and play pickup basketball maybe twice a year, but come on, how hard can it be to dunk off a trampoline and hit a few threes?
It's actually very hard.
Very, very hard.
Let's start with the three point contest, won by 106.7 The Fan's Sky Kerstein. This used what are the standard Three-Point Shoot Out (tm) rules, with each participant given 45 seconds to shoot and three racks of five balls, including one "money ball" (in actuality a WNBA basketball) worth two points.
Before I go any further, I want you to take a moment and estimate how many points you believe you would score if you were a participant. Keep in mind, 15 shots, including three that count twice means that you could score up to 18 points if you made each one.
The most points I saw anyone score was seven. Seven. This was with maybe 30 or 40 participants, some of which played college basketball or are in rec leagues. A couple of people, myself included, didn't make a single shot. In the second round, when the people with the highest scores shot again, most scored four or five points and no one was better.
It's really easy to see how this can happen when you stop to think about it. Having a rack of basketballs next to you is distracting enough to cause a lot of people to repeatedly miss wide. The time limit and crowd of onlookers only adds to the pressure and degree of difficulty. And, of course, after years of taking jump shots after dribbling around or catching a pass, it's disorienting to do it after taking a ball off of a rack.
The trampoline dunk contest saw far fewer participants and far more entertainment. Maybe it was the athleticism apparently required to do it, maybe it was the very rational fear of jumping 10 feet into the air, missing the landing area and face-planting on the hardwood, but only about a dozen people even tried to do this and no one wanted to go first.
Actually dunking off of a trampoline isn't that difficult. Getting comfortable enough with it to make it look cool or even remotely graceful is. Maybe a third of the people couldn't do it at all. Of those that could, only three or four were able to do anything more than put the ball through the basket and hang on the rim.
The pressure from the crowd isn't bad in this case since dunking doesn't require the kind of concentration shooting does. It's also not that hard to get the necessary lift to dunk and landing on what's essentially a giant mattress is, if anything, actually kind of fun. What threw people off is that you simply can't half ass the run to the trampoline or else you won't have the momentum to reach the rim. A lot of people did this and it always ended with them aborting the attempted dunk or flailing about in midair with the basket a couple of feet out of reach.
The winner, 106.7 The Fan's Kevin Shafer, was a beast. While half the people in the contest were happy just to avoid embarrassment or serious injury, Kevin was doing stuff like this.
All in all, this was a good time for everyone. It was a valuable chance to network with other media types, get to know the folks behind the scenes at the Verizon Center, get a better sense of what John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to be going through this weekend and maybe even learn a lesson in humility.
Actually, scratch that. This was about watching unathletic people try to do athletic things, taking selfies with G-Man (what a concept for a Tumblr) and scoring free Chick-Fil-A with a side of humble pie.
Many thanks to SB Nation NBA League Manager Seth Pollack for the video work.
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