LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin leaped over a car and threw down a two-handed dunk to the accompaniment of a gospel choir Saturday to win the slam dunk contest during the NBA's All-Star weekend.
The Los Angeles Clippers' high-flying young star caught a pass out of the car's sunroof from teammate Baron Davis and easily cleared the hood while a choir sang R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" at midcourt.
The inventive dunk demonstrated why many in the NBA believe the 21-year-old has the raw athleticism and entertaining flair to be the league's next big star.
The dunk contest was one of several competitions held Saturday as a prelude for the main event of the weekend, the NBA's annual All-Star game on Sunday night.
Griffin, who grew up watching every dunk contest on videotape with his brother in Oklahoma, said the car dunk was his idea from the start.
"When (the officials) first came to me ... they said there were no rules," Griffin said. "I was like, 'So I can jump over a car? Yeah? Oh, maybe I have to do it now.' I figured I could probably clear it, and Baron came up with the choir."
The move could have petrified the Clippers since Griffin — the top pick in the 2009 NBA draft — broke his kneecap in a preseason game in 2009 and missed all of last season.
"I could have clipped my foot, I guess," Griffin said. "That's what I was afraid of — just clip my foot on the side and smash my face into the car. Fortunately, it worked out."
Griffin is also playing in the All-Star game on Sunday after becoming the first player since Yao Ming in 2003 to be selected in his first year in the league. The starters for the game are chosen by fans in an online and SMS vote and the reserves are selected by the league's coaches. Griffin is a reserve in the game.
Griffin chuckled when asked whether he'll defend his slam dunk title during next year's All-Star weekend in Orlando.
"We'll see. I have to come up with something else," he said. "Maybe a boat next year."