LeBron ends speculation

Updated: February 18, 2005, 7:11 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- LeBron James is taking a pass on the NBA's All-Star dunk contest.

James ended days of speculation Friday by deciding to sit out the competition because of a sore left ankle and a lingering flu.

LeBron James

"I'm still a little sick and my ankle's still a little tender," James said. "I'm not getting as much lift as I know I can get off this ankle. I'll be there in attendance but I won't be participating in it."

James still hasn't fully recovered from a sprained ankle that caused him to miss two games last month. While he'll skip Saturday's dunk contest, he plans to play on the sophomore team in the Rookie Challenge and as a starter for the East in the All-Star Game.

"I don't have 100 percent energy, but I'm happy to be here," James said.

James battled exhaustion from illness Thursday night in Cleveland's 94-88 loss in Minnesota. He still had 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but was helped to the locker room early in the fourth quarter.

"I got dizzy, dehydrated," James said. "I went into the locker room, took my temperature, I was like 105."

He returned to the court with just over four minutes to play and had to drop to his knees in the huddle during a timeout.

James didn't address the media after the game, but he made it to All-Star practice Friday morning in Denver and was at the media session in the afternoon.

James skipped last year's dunk contest in Los Angeles, partially because he was upset at not being picked as a reserve for the Eastern Conference's All-Star team as a rookie.

The league officially announced at least four participants for Saturday night's dunk contest, at one time the highlight of All-Star Weekend festivities. Atlanta rookie Josh Smith will compete along with J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen of New Orleans and Amare Stoudemire of Phoenix.

Denver was the site of the NBA's first dunk contest in 1984 and the ABA dunk-off between Julius Erving and David Thompson in 1976.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press