Barry gets to relive Clipper days
DALLAS -- When Brent Barry looked down at his Clippers warm-ups he laughed as he grabbed it and saw the red, white and blue logo he hadn't seen on his chest since 1998.
"It's a little strange," said Barry, who teamed up with the Lakers' Pau Gasol and the Sparks' Marie Ferdinand-Harris on Team Los Angeles for the NBA All-Star Haier Shooting Stars competition Saturday night. "I only spent two years playing there. I spent a lot more time playing in other places, but I guess they had to fill out the Los Angeles team and I was over at the Fan Jam and they said, 'Would you come shoot today?' and I said, 'No problem.' "
Barry's shining moment with the Clippers came during his rookie year when he won the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest when he connected on a slam dunk from the free-throw line while wearing his warm-ups.
"I think this is actually the same one I wore. They just regurgitated it," said Barry, now an analyst for TNT. "It's sad. I was just thinking if we would have won the two Clippers trophies would have been my slam dunk title and the Hair Shooting Stars trophy. That's not a good thing."
Team Los Angeles wasn't able to win the trophy, however, falling to Team Texas, which was composed of Dirk Nowitzki, Kenny Smith and Becky Hammon. L.A. finished with a final round time of 55.2 seconds and Texas finished with a time of 34.3 seconds to win the title after Gasol's potential winning half-court shot rimmed out.
"Shooting is shooting and you just try to have some fun, but I thought Pau blew it for us," Barry said with a smile. "We just came up a couple of inches short."
Though Barry couldn't take off his Clippers gear fast enough afterward, he said his All-Star experience was one of the most memorable of what was an otherwise forgettable stint in Los Angeles.
"I just wanted to have some fun in the rookie game and make a couple of dunks and sit down at the dunk contest and I ended up winning," he said. "I spent one year, my first year, showing people, I was athletic and then I spent 13 more years showing people I know how to play the game. I probably had six more dunks the rest of my career."
Ferdinand-Harris didn't have much time to rest after the Shooting Stars competition as she prepared to make a presentation at center court with Dwyane Wade to raise awareness and aid the earthquake victims in Haiti. They then brought out Eryka Baddu, who sang a special rendition of "You've Got A Friend."
"It was nerve-racking because I had D Wade next to me and the whole time I'm trying to gather myself and get focused, but then I started thinking of the people of Haiti and I'm like forget D Wade, this is serious," said Ferdinand-Harris, whose family is from Haiti. "Any time you're in a position to use your star power and your voice to be mindful of the Haiti earthquake it's a great opportunity."
Ferdinand-Harris' father grew up and lived 15 minutes outside Port au Prince and still has most of his family there. Ferdinand-Harris says she has uncles, aunts and cousins who lost their homes but are recovering.
"Just watching the news has been a struggle," she said. "It's sad. Seeing the condition the country is in knowing they already didn't have enough as it was. We were fortunate enough that the family I had over there just lost their home, but everyone was OK. It saddens me to watch it. We must continue to be mindful of this. This is when they need us the most. We can't forget about them and think just because we put a band-aid on it that they'll be fine."
Gasol, who teamed up with Ferdinand-Harris during the Shooting Stars competition, has already lent his support, donating $20,000, while the Lakers were in New York after he pledged to donate $1,000 for every point he scored against the Knicks.
"He's such a nice guy," she said. "For him to be so big, I thought he'd be mean, but he was like a teddy bear. He's a very sweet guy."
DeRozan comes up short
DeMar DeRozan talked about never losing a dunk contest heading into Saturday's competition and the former USC Trojan nearly kept his streak alive before falling to Nate Robinson, who became the first player to win the dunk contest three times.
DeRozan looked as if he was a lock to win the competition early when he opened up with an underneath the basket, between the legs, reverse dunk. He then connected on the most exciting dunk of the night when he had teammate Sonny Weems bounce the ball off the side of the backboard and he caught it in midair and jammed it in on the other side of the rim. He later jumped over Weems' back for a dunk after Weems had bounced the ball off the backboard for him.
His last dunk, however, was a simple power dunk with a running start that wasn't enough to unseat Robinson, who finished with a perfect 50 after he threw the ball off the backboard, grabbed it and turned around for a two-handed backward jam.
"He just got me," said a dejected DeRozan afterward. "He came with it and he got me at the end. I'll be back to redeem myself."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.