It’s time for All-Star Saturday Night!  And’s Dan Hilton (and possibly some special guests from other crew members located throughout the building) will be providing live coverage of the event from high above the rafters at the US Airways Center.  Check back throughout the event to get information you won’t see anywhere else on the web!

8:59 pm - With 52% of the vote, the NBA Slam Dunk Champion is NATE ROBINSON!  And the crowd literally goes wild!  Everyone was chanting his name during the commercial break and it looks like the fans at home thought so as well.  It was a great contest and probably one of the most entertaining slam dunk contests I’ve seen in quite a while.  In fact, the entire evening was very enjoyable.  I hope the fans watching from home enjoyed it as much as I did and hopefully the little insights given in the blog were helpful either while watching live or for those of you who were on dates with your significant others.  Remember to check back tomorrow for a live blog of the All-Star game.

8:59 pm - AND THE WINNER IS…

8:56 pm - This is a great change to the competition.  The fans get to text in their votes and decide the winner.  They have two minutes to text in their vote.  Most people on Twitter are saying Nate Robinson will get the win.  We’re waiting for the votes to tally now.

8:53 pm - And now for Howard’s last dunk.  He’s pacing and looks maybe a little nervous.  All of the NBA players on the baseline are standing.  Howard just got a much, much smaller uniform.  It’s like a spandex uniform.  And now he’s moving the entire crowd that was on the other half of the court off.  If Howard has anything, he’s got the ability to entertain.  He’s trying to get the crowd into it by waving his arms.  But his dunk was somewhat anti-climactic.  He meant to take off from the free throw line but he 

8:51 pm - Now Robinson is using Howard as a prop.  Have we ever seen this before?  A competitor using his competition as part of the dunk!?  Robinson dunked OVER Howard.  Absolutely amazing.  The saying is right.  The NBA really is where amazing happens.

8:50 pm - Dwight Howard is getting ready for his dunk.  And the crowd goes absolutely nuts!  He bounced it off the side of the backboard and I thought he was going to bring down the rim with the power he had.  Even Shaq (the REAL Superman) is impressed.

8:48 pm – And now we know why he changed into green.  He says it is Kryptonite green.  The theatrics have just gone up another notch.  And then he does a dunk where he brings the ball between his knees!  Very impressive for the power he slammed it down with!

8:46 pm - It is Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard in the finals.  I really thought Robinson had a chance this year but if Howard can bring out another performance like he did on his second dunk, he may be the repeat champion.  And I found out why Robinson left the court.  He changed into a green uniform for some reason.  I’m not sure why but maybe he wants to be a super hero as well.  Maybe the Green Lantern?

8:40 pm - Holy cow.  Dwight Howard just requested another basketball goal and they have raised it to what I think is 12 feet.  Now Howard has gone into a telephone booth on the stage and closed the door.  They’re playing the Superman music and he comes out with a cape.  Shaq looks very interested in the proceedings.  Everyone in the arena is on their feet.  Howard passed the ball to his teammate, who bounced it off the backboard and then Howard dunked it.  He was given another score of 50.  This one, I think, was deserved just for the theatrics!

8:38 pm - I think Nate Robinson is going to injure himself or his teammate.  He is using him as a trampoline and the first dunk I thought he might break his teammates back or break his own ankle.  The judges gave him a 41.  He then left the court.  I’m not sure why.  I hope he’s not hurt.

8:35 pm - JR Smith attempts his second dunk from a teammate and misses the pass in the first attempt.  After two attempts, they change the location of the pass but still can’t connect.  I think the NBA may need to change the whole “use a teammate” thing.  The first round was great but so far the first two competitors have been missing dunks left and right because the passes can’t connect.  They finally change the pass yet again and he also ends up with a 42.  Which is actually higher than I would have given him.

8:30 pm - Rudy Fernandez gets his second dunk.  He’s going to have to pull something out that we haven’t seen before or he’s going to be sitting the rest of the night.  He is using Pau Gasol as his partner in this one.  The dunk is a bounce from behind the backboard by Gasol and then Fernandez will bring it forward to dunk it.  He’s missed several attempts but it could be really impressive if he can get it.  The crowd is chanting “Rudy” (never thought I would hear that one!) and he’s run out of time!!!  That means he gets two final attempts before he gets scored.  This rule was implemented after Birdman couldn’t dunk after about 300 tries several years ago.  Fernandez finally hits the dunk but he only gets a 42.  I think the judges docked him a point for not getting it within the time period.

8:26 pm - The reigning champion, Dwight Howard, goes behind the basket for his first attempt and messed up the throw.  And his second throw.  He got the third throw but missed the dunk.  That always makes it a little anti-climactic.  Finally, the crowd gets behind him and he gets the dunk.  But after four tries, it doesn’t seem as impressive as it could have been.  The judges disagree, however, and give him a 50.  I think his reputation preceeds him.  I would have given him a 9 maybe, but not a 10.

8:24 pm – Nate Robinson from the Knicks is up and messed up on his first attempt.  The weird thing is he did basically the same dunk as JR Smith and got a 46.  I think because the dunks just look more impressive when you’re shorter than half the people watching and all of the judges.

8:23 pm - Rudy Fernandez was the player voted in to participate.  He has a lot to live up to.  He removed his warm-up, bounced the ball off the top of the backboard (after throwing it behind his back) and dunked it with force.  The judges gave him a 42.  And then got roundly booed.

8:22 pm - JR Smith has the first dunk and it was a good dunk but nothing we haven’t seen before.  The best thing about it was the power behind it.  The judges gave him a 43.

8:15 pm – The judges for tonight’s dunk contest are Tom Chambers, Kevin Johnson, Cedric Ceballos, Larry Nance and DAN MAJERLE!!  

8:12 pm - Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard are loving the performer on the stage right now.  I don’t know who he is but he’s rocking the place out.  Even Shaq was dancing in his chair.  Speaking of Dwight Howard, while many people think Howard is going to repeat, I’ve got my money on Nate Robinson.  He’s the shortest of the group and so his dunks automatically look more impressive.  However, I guess I shouldn’t ever count out Howard.  He’s come with the most innovative dunks the past two years.  So who knows what he’s going to bring tonight!?

8:01 pm – Daequan Cook starts out much better than Lewis and wins in the third rack.  But he keeps going and just can’t miss.  He gets 19 in the tie-breaker and wins the competition.  Next up, the contest everyone has probably been waiting for.  The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.  With all Phoenix judges, including the greatest player to ever step on an NBA court, Dan Majerle.  (Yes, I know I said that earlier.  I just wanted to make sure you all knew it.)

7:59 pm - I guess the tie-breaker is just shooting again with the tied contestants.  Lewis missed his entire first two racks!  He finally hit three (including the money ball in the third rack) but didn’t have the same stamina he did in the Final and ended with only 7 points.  Wow, it’d be a heartbreaker for him to lose like this!

7:57 pm - Cook had a terrible first two racks but so did Lewis and he came back.  AND THERE’S A TIE!!!  Cook made the money ball to tie the competition and Rashard Lewis will go against Daequan Cook in a shoot-off.

7:55 pm - Rashard Lewis follows Kapono.  He went first and has the most rest of any of the finalist contestants.  Maybe that hurt him though.  After two racks, he only had 2 points and only 6 after three racks.  He hit the money ball in the 4th rack to get to 10.  He needed the money ball in the last rack to get the lead and hit it.  The crowd loved the last second shot and let him know it.  Lewis is in the lead with Daequan Cook the only person who can stop him from winning.

7:53 pm - Poor Kapono!  He has to shoot twice in a row.  That’s going to kill him, I think.  But that’s what he gets for shooting poorly in the first round.  14 is his final score.  Unfortunately, probably not enough to win.  Dang, I was rooting for him.  But at least the Spurs still haven’t gotten into any finals!

7:47 pm – Jason Kapono brings up the rear.  I still say he is the guy to beat and he shows it buy hitting four of his first five shots.  Then misses 4 of the next five.  With one rack to go he had 15 points but his legs gave out on him and he only got 16 points.  However, that is enough to get into the final round.

7:45 pm - Roger Mason, Jr. was announced and still didn’t get as many boos as his teammates.  He does not look nervous at all.  He also beat the Suns on a last second three-point-shot.  Wow, these guys are all Suns killers!  Mason missed all of his third rack and just barely missed the money ball at the end.  He also had 13 to end.

7:43 pm - Back to All-Star action.  Danny Granger follows Cook and looks a little nervous.  He beat the Suns with a last second three-point-shot earlier this season so we know he’s a good shooter.  After two racks he ended with 5 points but hit 4 of 5 shots from the same spot he beat the Suns.  Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t hit any money balls and he ended with 13 points.

7:40 pm – The NBA recognizes that tonight’s activities are on Valentine’s Day (to my wife’s chagrin!) and they’re trying to make it up to the fans who are here by showing video of some NBA players singing love songs.  My favorite – Dwight Howard singing “At Last.”  Of course, LeBron James did pretty well with his “I Need Love.”  The NBA.  Where Love Happens.  The crowd gave a huge cheer for that video.  (Oh, and Dwyane Wade is sporting red glasses and a pink handkerchief this evening.  Nice!  Much classier than Craig Sager’s all-red suit and tie at media day today!

7:38 pm - Daequan Cook is third.  He started the same as Bibbybut made the money ball on the second rack and ended the third rack with 14 points.  Then you could tell he started getting tired.  Luckily for him, he found the rhythm again in the last rack and ended with 18 points.

7:37 pm – Mike Bibby started by making 3 balls from the first rack.  The crowd is really rooting for him since he’s a hometown guy.  We don’t have  Phoenix player in there so people are adopting Bibby.  Unfortunately, after a strong start he only ended up getting 14 points.  Maybe Lewis’ score will hold up after all!

7:35 pm - Rashard Lewis is up!  He seemed to be making a lot during the warm-ups but didn’t do well the first three racks.  He hit two money balls and ended with 17.  I’m not sure that will hold up.

7:30 pm – Next up: The three-point contest.  I’ve always loved this one.  I think Kapono is still the one to beat but there is a lot of strong competition, including Roger Mason from the Spurs.  Dang, they’re everywhere tonight!  It’s like the NBA wants to rub them in the Phoenix fans’ face!  He got a small boo but nothing like Parker and Duncan.

7:26 pm - There is a kid performing right now whose wish for Make-A-Wish was to perform at the NBA All-Star weekend.  He got that chance tonight and he’s pretty dang good!  I was impressed.  Make-A-Wish is an awesome organization.

7:17 pm – Derrick Rose has a nearly perfect run and ends with a rousing slam dunk!  Rose is the champion of the Playstation Skills Challenge!  He seems like a good guy and like he really had fun out there.  Great job, Derrick!

7:14 pm - Devin Harris starts the final roundwell but then messes up on the bounce pass and the top-of-the-key shot.  That puts him with a final time of 39.7 seconds.  A little slower than his first-round score.

7:10 pm – Finally, Tony Parker gives the competition a shot.  The hardest part for him was the shot at the top of the key.  When he realized he didn’t have a shot (both figuratively and literally), he kind of gave up.  Because of that, he ended with a time of 50.8 and the Spurs have so far been shut out of the finals.  Sure, Phoenix didn’t win their only competition but at least they got further than the Spurs players!!  I’ll take satisfacttion where I can get it.

7:09 pm – Derrick Rose now competes.  He looks like he took some tips from the veterans and is taking his time while trying to finish quickly (if that makes any sense).  Because of that, he ended up with the best time so far of 33.3.  He also got the biggest cheer when he finished.

7:07 pm - Mo Williams is up next.  He’s having a little problem with the bounce pass but was able to complete the rest of the contest with ease.  He ended with 37.5 seconds which puts him in second place – .6 seconds behind Devin Harris.

7:05 pm - Devin Harris is up first and is doing fairly well.  I saw him practicing the passes more than anything else during the warm-ups and I think that really helped him.  He didn’t try to rush through things and just did what he knew he had to do.  He ended with a time of 36.9 seconds.

7:03 pm – I just realized that I’m sitting directly across from David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA.  The only difference is I am higher than any paid seats and his is about 1/3 of the way up the lower section.  He looks very interested in the competition but I don’t see him rooting for any one person.  I guess that’s how it should be.

6:58 pm - They are getting things set up for the Playstion Skills Challenge.  This is always a fun one because it’s just a matter of whether the players can get their passes through the small hoops.  If they can do that, theyhave a good chance of winning.  If they have some problems, it could cost them the competition.  During the introductions, everyone got cheers in the arena but Tony Parker.  I guess that’s to be expected.  But again, I don’t like it.  (Unless he ends up winning, then it’s justified!)

6:56 pm - PHX Percussion is performing for everyone.  I love those guys.  It’s a talent I wish I had.  They’re really good and they entertain the crowd.  It’s definitely something different than piped in music.

6:52 pm - The Suns had a great chance to do it but just couldn’t pull out the win in the end.  The team started well by making the first shot at every position but the halfcourt shot did them in.  They ended with 1:15 seconds to end in second place.  It’s too bad.  It would have been great.  Oh well.  It’s ok.  Dan Majerle is still the best.

6:49 pm – Because Detroit had the worst time of the two teams, they have to go first.  They ended with a time of 58.4 seconds.  That’s going to be a hard one for Phoenix to beat, but I have faith!  Go Majerle!

6:45 pm – Now the Spurs.  David Robinson missed his first several shots and that put them in a hole but they came back nicely and had a lot of time to make a half-court shot.  But they just couldn’t do it and ended with 1:06.  The Spurs and Lakers are out of the event and Detroit and Phoenix are in the finals.  This could be bad for Phoenix because Detroit went first and has had a lot of rest.

6:43 pm – Suns are up!  They made their first two shots and Majerle missed only one.  They got to the halfcourt shot and again the legend, Dan Majerle, made the halfcourt shot.  They are now in the lead with a time of 53.3 seconds.

6:39 pm - The Lakers are next and had a good run until they hit the half-court shot portion.  They couldn’t make that shot to save their lives and ended up with a time of 1:16.  So far, the legends have both made their three-point shots to end their team’s shooting.

6:37 pm - Detroit is up first.  Both NBA players missed their first shots while the WNBA player made her first shot.  Bill Laimbeer made the last shot and Detroit has a time of 59.3 seconds.

6:34 pm - They’re doing the introductions for the Shooting Stars competition.  The Suns/Mercury players obviously got the loudest cheers.  However, second was David Robinson.  Tim Duncan, of course, got booed.  I’m not sure I agree with booing someone at an All-Star event but he seemed to take it all in stride.  I may be changing my tune if the Spurs win this event.

6:23 pm - While I’m watching the players warm up (especially Dan Majerle – the all-time best player to ever step foot on an NBA court.  Yes, I’m serious), co-worker Daniel Banks pointed out the antics of Benny the Bull.  So far in the few minutes I’ve been watching him, he’s flirted with a dancer, groomed one of the other mascots, sat in the ball containers and wouldn’t give a ball to Tim Duncan and threw a ball at a Suns Dancer.  This guy could be trouble.

6:20 pm - The players are definitely going to be warmed up for their events this evening.  They’ve been down on the court shooting for about 20 or 25 minutes.  Many of the players are practicing their half-court shots for the Haier Shooting Stars competition – which is the first event of the evening.

6:13 pm - It’s about 17 minutes before the real festivities start, we’ve had the Canadian and American National Anthems and the players who are participating in tonight’s event are warming up.  The crowd is beginning to fill in and it’s starting to look like an All-Star event.  This is going to be a great night.  Definitely stay tuned to see what will happen!

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