In the Raptors’ last practice before the team will go their separate ways for the All-Star break, the talk was on the dunk contest.
While Terrence Ross smartly declined to give many details, the rookie sounded cautiously excited about the weekend that lies ahead of him. The good news: it sounds like he’s going to eschew the use of props, which, really, props to him for that. This is a contest about dunking that has gotten so far out of control in recent years that it will be exciting to see a field of contestants that are actually dunkers.
In this age of social media and constant interaction Ross has been receiving non-stop suggestions from fans — on top of the ones his teammates are flooding him with after practice each day.
“DeMar, Rudy, everybody else is giving me their opinions of what I should do,” Ross said. “I’m just trying a whole lot of things out. I have probably like my core amount of dunks I’m going to do, but everybody is asking me new things so I’m kind of all over the place right now.”
As for the suggestions coming in from fans on Twitter? Turns out they have some lofty expectations.
“Somebody asked me to like tap both sides of the backboard and do a 360 windmill, just weird things you would never, like NBA Jam type things you’d never be able to do.”
Ross, winning over Dwyane Wade with his steal and windmill over the Orlando Magic during a game in December, recalled his first in-game dunk on Monday afternoon, laughing as he said he went up and kept his eyes closed, “just hoped it went in.” With his first game dunk under his belt, the 13-year-old Ross got a little ahead of himself.
“After that I swear I thought I was a dunker,” he said. “I was trying to jump off two (feet), I was embarrassing myself. I dunked once so I thought I was some type of (pro).”
While his first in-game dunk was a big moment, Ross had a hard time getting his AAU teammates to believe in his athleticism.
“First time I ever dunked…it was a middle school AAU practice and I got there and I was telling everybody I could dunk it and nobody would believe me,” he said. “I went in and I dunked and they were like, ‘No, that rim is a little low,’ so I went to the other end and I dunked on that one and then everyone was like, ‘Okay, you can dunk now.”
In addition to the unrealistic suggestions fans have been sending his way, Ross has received a lot of requests for a homage to former Raptor and dunk contest king, Vince Carter.
“It’s Vince Carter,” he said with emphasis. “It’s not many people that can do Vince Carter dunks the way he did it, the power and ease, all that. That’s the unrealistic part…Trying to do something, it’s all, ‘Do something like Vince,’ You can’t do something like Vince. Vince is the only person that can do something like Vince,’” he trails off, then almost immediately softens his stance, “I don’t know. I’m still thinking.”
Ross has been prepping for the contest by watching video of previous years dating all the way back to 1987. He said Josh Smith’s performance in the 2005 contest is one of his favourites and that DeRozan and Gay have been giving him advice on how to stay loose and deal with the bright lights.
Admitting that he isn’t a fan of the recent trend to rely on props, Ross said he doesn’t agree that guys are all out of ideas.
“There’s actually a couple of things that haven’t been done,” he said. I’ll probably do one of them…who knows.”
For a relatively nonchalant rookie, Ross is playing the week leading up to the contest to near perfection.