Mason Wins Slam Dunk Contest

Sunday, February 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Desmond Mason likes to draw and paint. And now he's a slam dunk artist.

The Seattle SuperSonics rookie won the NBA slam dunk contest Saturday night, beating 19-year-old DeShawn Stevenson of Utah and Charlotte's Baron Davis in the final round.

``You've got to be more creative now, and that's what I tried to do,'' said Mason. ``That's what all the guys tried to do, you could see it.

I think everybody was nervous. It wasn't the strongest dunk contest ever. But it was fun doing it,'' he said.

Mason, the oldest competitor in the field of young leapers at age 23, had a soaring left-handed dunk on his first try of the final round to get a 45 out of a possible 50. Then he received a 44 with a two-handed cradle on a drive from the right side for a final-round 89.

Stevenson, who won a high school dunk contest last year before going right to the NBA, finished with a final-round 85 and Davis a 77.

Knowing he needed a big score to win, Davis tried to dunk with his headband covering his eyes on his final attempt but didn't hit the rim and managed just a 33. Had he made it, it may have brought the only perfect 50 of the night

``I guess you could say it's a bad day for headbands,'' said Davis.

Not making the final round were Corey Maggette, Stromile Swift and Jonathan Bender.

Defending champion Vince Carter, who had three perfect scores last year, didn't compete because of a sore knee.

That left a field of neophtyes who had never been in the contest, and three of the participants were rookies.

Mason, who's dabbled in art since he was 15, attended Oklahoma State and recently attended a memorial service for the basketball players and staff killed in a plane crash.

``It's hard when you go out and play basketball and you feel guilty,'' Mason said. ``I feel guilty because I've lost teammates I cared about.''

Davis, mourning the loss of his father who died last week, also had one of the most creative dunks of the first round. He took a pass from Charlotte teammate David Wesley, who was shooting the approach with a video camera, and then dunked. It brought a 49 and propelled him into the second round.

Mason got the second 49 of the opening round when, on his third try, he soared over teammate Rashard Lewis, who was bent at the waist with his warmup jersey pulled over his head.

Then Stevenson earned a 49 by dunking after Utah teammate Bryon Russell threw the ball off the glass for him.

Showing their nerves in their first appearance in the contest, Bender, Mason, Stevenson, and Swift all missed their first attempts.

On his first try, Maggette unveiled the ``Super Maggette'' he promised a day earlier. He raced down the court, stopped at the 3-point line and did a forward flip before gathering himself and then taking a pass from Clippers teammate Quentin Richardson to dunk.

In the first round each player got three dunks — one had to include a teammate — with the lowest score excluded.

The judges were Julius Erving, David Thompson, Nate Archibald, Danny Ainge and Kenny Smith. A maximum of 10 points can be assigned to each dunk by each judge.