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NEW ORLEANS – His imagination spinning with ideas, Harrison Barnes arrived at NBA All-Star Weekend hoping to make history and win a trophy.
This was his chance to become the league's newest dunk champion.
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Instead, the second-year Warriors forward will return to the Bay Area with little more than precious memories from his experience.
Perhaps victimized by an awkward new format and surely undone by his own failure to stir the audience, Barnes could only watch as Wizards guard John Wall alarmed a sleepy crowd at Smoothie King Arena with a fantastic slam that blew away the field.
"It's hard to top a 360, between-the-legs (dunk),'' Barnes said of Wall's winning slam. "So regardless of what I would have done, it would have been hard to top that.''
Wall had the Wizards mascot hold the ball above his head, then jumped over the mascot's head, grabbed the ball, dipped it between his legs while spinning and threw it down to win the individual title.
The crowd ate it up, as did judges Dominique Wilkins, Magic Johnson and Julius Erving. Despite a nice show of teamwork between Kings rookie Ben McLemore and sidekick Shaquille O'Neal, who sat on a throne under the hoop while McLemore soared over him and dunked, Wall's attempt was a no-doubt winner.
The new format featured first a freestyle round in which Western Conference dunk squad – Damian Lillard, McLemore and Barnes – competed against East dunkers Terrence Ross (defending champ), Paul George and Wall.
The East won that by unanimous vote of the judges before the individual battles got under way.
Barnes attempted to replicate a digitized version of a dunk he did for a video game company. Though Barnes eventually dunked, he lost his battle with George, who won unanimously.
Ross took a split decision over Lillard, while Wall aced McLemore.
"To go out there and get swept, oooh,'' Barnes said, surprised. "But it was fun.
"We had a lot of fun getting ready for it. I know for me personally, I would like to have performed better. I know my teammates would have liked to, too. But you've got to credit the East. They had some crazy dunks.''
Barnes said he considered several ideas, including wearing a vintage Jason Richardson jersey to pay homage to the last Warrior to win the contest. Barnes even had the jersey in the bag but decided against wearing it.