|Moon Eyes Return to Dunk Contest||11.23.08 at 12:36 pm ET|
On Sunday Jamario Moon’s biggest concern is taking on he Boston Celtics. And while he is focused on each game at hand, the Toronto Raptors high-flyer can’t help but think ahead to February. That’s when Moon would like to redeem himself in the Slam Dunk Contest.
‘It was big to be on the stage with a lot of the greats like (Michael) Jordan and Dominique (Wilkins). So to be able to be part of that, man, it was something big,’ Moon said on a recent trip through Boston. ‘I would love to go back, love to go back because I feel like I’ve got something to prove.’
This past February Moon finished third behind Dwight Howard and Gerald Green during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. He entered the contest as an underdog but later realized he was his biggest competition.
‘I just don’t feel like I gave it my all,’ he said. ‘I don’t know, I don’t know. I wasn’t nervous at all. I think I was holding back. I was trying to save my best for last when I should have just brought the best out and made it better at the end.’
Just as defending champ Howard did after losing in the 2007 Dunk Contest, Moon is already planning a comeback. He would like to return to the contest another year wiser.
‘Already, already,’ Moon said of drawing up new dunks. ‘You know what, I learned something about it. It’s really not too much about the dunk as it is the dramatics of it and what leads up to it. I learned a lot from it so if I go back, I know what to expect.’
The 2009 Slam Dunk Contest will be held during All-Star Weekend, February 13-15 in Phoenix, Arizona.
|O’Neal Struggling to Achieve Celtics Success||11.11.08 at 9:58 am ET|
Garnett and Allen were able to hit the ground running in their first season with the Boston Celtics, starting off 20-2 en route to the first NBA Championships of their career. For O’Neal, his debut season with the Toronto Raptors has anything but a joyride.
‘It’s been kind of a roller coaster for me,’ he said. ‘And it’s been hard.’
This summer O’Neal was traded to the Raptors from the Indiana Pacers, a year after Garnett’s blockbuster trade to the Celtics. The move paired O’Neal with dominating big man Chris Bosh and positioned the Raptors as an Eastern Conference contender. Like the Celtics, the Raptors united unfulfilled All-Stars in hopes of winning a title.
‘You try not to base your career and your success off of somebody else’s,’ O’Neal said. ‘A lot of people can say, ‘I want it to be like this,’ but it’s not necessarily like that. [The Celtics] definitely have put together a format on how to do it, for sure. Sometimes you’re not able to go that route. You’ve got to take another route and that’s the route that I’m on.’
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|Pregame: Celtics vs. Raptors||11.10.08 at 5:17 pm ET|
The Raptors wasted no time getting ready for the game as nearly every player except for Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh were warming up when I scoped out the court around 5:30. Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, and Brian Scalabrine were practicing on the Celtics end.
The Cs were loose in the locker room, with Powe, House, and Rajon Rondo crowded near Perkins’ locker. Perk turns 24 today and the big man is trying to downplay his birthday even though he is receiving some extra attention from his teammates.
Chris Bosh received treatment on the trainers table in the Raptors quarters while a handful of players wandered in and out of the locker room. Jamario Moon said the Raptors are a brand new team with O’Neal’s veteran leadership this season. They are also a better offensive team, ranking second in the league in both three-point shooting and free throws.
Tonight it was the bench who was receiving praise from Doc Rivers. The Celtics head coach said the starters have not been consistent with their offense and defense. He would not go as far to say the bench has exceeded his expectations but they are “playing well.”
The game will get underway shortly. Check back soon for more …