|East All-Star Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors competes in the slam dunk contest during the NBA basketball All-Star weekend in Houston, Texas, February 16, 2013. Photo by Jeff Haynes, Reuters.
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 1) Rookie swingman Terrence Ross brought the Slam Dunk trophy back to the Toronto Raptors with a win over defending champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz.
Ross paid homage to slam dunk icon Vince Carter in the final round of the competition with a 360-degree dunk off the backboard.
He then went over a ball boy and through the legs for his winning move.
Ross got 58% of the fan vote over 42% for Evans, who dunked over a painting of himself and completed a difficult alley-oop dunk in the final round.
"I feel blessed, but it's still overwhelming. I'm just trying to soak it all in," Ross said. "It's my favorite event to watch every year, since I was a small child."
"But actually winning it, I never thought I'd do it. It's been unbelievable. I've had fun," he added.
Ross and Evans advanced to the finals after edging former champion Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers, YouTube sensation and current New York Knick James "Flight" White, Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, and Denver Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried.
Green got the first perfect 50 of the night with a reverse double-pump jam off the side of the backboard, but it was White who electrified the crowd with a two-handed dunk just a step inside the free-throw line.
Other standout dunks included Faried's through-the-legs jam off the glass, as well as Bledsoe's off-the-bounce two-handed reverse dunk.
Tribute to Carter
Ross got the crowd inside the Toyota Center buzzing when he wore the No. 15 jersey of Carter for his first dunk of the final round.
Carter was with the Toronto Raptors when he put on a spectacular show to win the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest in Oakland, California.
Ross took a pass from Houston Rockets rookie Terrence Jones, who threw the ball off the side of the backboard, upon which Ross caught it, completed a 360-degree turn, bring it back to his waist and dunking it with his right hand.
Evans caught a high alley-oop pass from Dallas' Dahntay Jones for his second dunk of the night, but Ross would seal his victory when he leapt over a ballboy then put the ball between his legs before hammering it home.
"I told him the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go through the legs," Ross said about his final dunk. "He was kind of nervous."
"When I first grabbed him, he said, 'You're not going to hit me, right?' I said,'No, I'm not going to hit you.' So I had to calm his nerves," he added.
Team West wins
Despite Ross' victory in the Slam Dunk Contest, the Saturday festivities still ended in the Western Conference's favor.
The Western teams had a 140-125 advantage in total points over teams from the Eastern Conference, meaning Team West’s chosen charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish, will get $500,000.
The East's chosen charity, the Boys and Girls Club of America, will receive $350,000.
All-Star Saturday’s festivities kicked off with the 2013 NBA Shooting Stars competition, which saw Team Bosh of the Eastern Conference beat Team Westbrook of the Western Conference.
Miami Heat star Chris Bosh, Swin Cash of the WNBA's Chicago Sky, and former Atlanta Hawks great Dominque Wilkins, finished the challenges with a final round time of 1:29.
Meanwhile, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard captured the NBA Skills Challenge crown after outclassing Houston’s Jeremy Lin and 2012 winner Tony Parker of San Antonio.
Cleveland's Kyrie Irving ruled the three-point contest after draining 17 of his first 18 attempts in the final round and finishing with 23 points to outgun San Antonio's Matt Bonner, who registered 20.
Irving defeated Indiana's Paul George, Golden State's Stephen Curry, and New Orlean's Ryan Anderson.
The NBA's All-Star Weekend will conclude with the All-Star Game on Sunday (Monday in Manila). – With reports from ANC and Reuters