Terrence Ross' 2013 Slam Dunk Contest Championship First Step to NBA Relevancy

Ethan GrantAnalyst IFebruary 17, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 16:  Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors celebrates after winning the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest part of 2013 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Toyota Center on February 16, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The list of former NBA Slam Dunk Contest champions is a long and storied one.

It includes Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Blake Griffin. It also includes Harold Miner, Fred Jones and Larry Nance. Long story short, there's a fine line between a player who's a great dunker and a player who uses the dunk contest as a confidence-builder for something greater.

Terrence Ross is the latter.

Ross added his name to the all-time list at the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night, and the rookie took his first step toward NBA stardom with four dunks that place him among some of the greatest legends the sport has ever seen.

If you've yet to see any of his dunks, check out the final one from Houston that ended up putting him over the top in the minds of the fans (via B/R's own Twitter feed):

He also added an array of other dunks, including this impressive hang-and-hit from a pass from fellow "Terrence"—Terrence Williams of the Houston Rockets.

Although he hasn't gotten much consistent burn in Toronto with some talented veterans in front of him (a group that now includes new Raptor Rudy Gay), Ross announced himself ready for national attention with his performance in this year's dunk contest.

Through a little more than the midway point of the 2012-13 season, Ross is averaging 6.4 points on just under 40-percent shooting—not exactly jumping off the page.

Don't be discouraged by his slow start; as he's shown flashes of brilliance on several occasions this season already.

That includes a 26-point game in a win against Portland, and a solid streak of games (pre-Gay trade) where he scored in double figures in four of six games. There's a good chance Ross cracks the Dwane Casey rotation for the rest of the season, too, especially if Toronto is officially eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race soon.

While Ross is certainly a rookie on the rise, make no mistake—he has a long way to go.

A poor shooting percentage from both the field and the free-throw line are cause for concern, as is his penchant for disappearing in certain games this season.

However, he just struck it big on a national stage.

Anytime you share an award with MJ and 'Nique, you're confidence should be at an all-time high.

Hopefully, Ross can take this confidence that's been provided by his extreme athleticism and creativity and take it north of the border. When he gets there, all bets should be off.

Again, Ross is a rookie. It's hard to expect him to turn it around in a week after he won a contest that includes virtually no "basketball" skill.

However, judging by some of the talent he's shown this season and what we know about him coming out of the University of Washington, this is a good stepping stone for something greater. Ross will enjoy the moment for the rest of All-Star weekend—as he should.

When he gets back to Toronto, it's working time, though. Hopefully he can use this momentum to finish the 2012-13 season on the highest note possible.

If he does, we could be looking at a swingman controversy in Toronto.