Ron Howard, the Mad Ants' star player, doesn't talk much trash.
But when it comes to teammate Tony R. Mitchell's victory in the D-League Slam Dunk Contest last year, Howard has a sharp tongue.
"He definitely won it because of my help. He's not going to admit it, though," Howard said.
Howard will be the lone Mad Ants player in the All-Star Game today in New Orleans. During halftime, Mitchell will defend his dunk title against Thanasis Antetokounmpo of Delaware, Ra'shad James of Reno and Darren White of Erie.
"That why he won the first time, because I helped him," Howard said. "If he's smart, he'll ask me to do something else so he can win again."
Howard went into the stands last year – he estimates it was 100 feet away from the basket – and sent a bounce pass to Mitchell, who windmilled it in.
"He got me a 43," said Mitchell, adding 50 is the highest possible. "But the dunks I did myself, I got a 50. I might have to take that into consideration.
"I might let (Howard) help me get the first dunk out of the way."
Mitchell's winning dunk, which drew a 50 from a five-judge panel, came after he hauled a 4-foot-high advertisement for the presenting sponsor – Boost Mobile – onto the court and gave himself a bounce pass before jumping over the sign and going in for the slam.
In all seriousness, Mitchell will likely enlist Howard's help today, but he has to check out the venue, Sprint Arena, before he can script out his dunks.
"I'm still thinking about what I'll do," Mitchell said. "Me and Ron have got to get together and see what the stage is like so we can pull out some crazy stuff."
The contest will be judged by San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green, former NBA players Dell Curry, Otis Birdsong and Artis Gilmore and a sweepstakes winner.
The contest will include two rounds. Only two players will compete in the final round.
The D-League All-Star Game is part of the NBA's All-Star weekend.
It is Howard's third time playing in the game, which will be broadcast live on NBA TV and is intended to be a showcase for the NBA scouts as much as the fans in attendance.
"I know most of my teammates, and I played against maybe all of them at some point. It's weird. Maybe we'll have gotten together maybe once before we played. And we still want to be scouted and play the right way, so it can be difficult, but it'll be fun," said Howard, who will be on the Prospects' team coached by Rio Grande Valley's Nevada Smith.
Note: The Mad Ants acquired forward Matt Bouldin from Delaware for a second-round draft pick. Bouldin, 26, a 6-foot-5 forward out of Gonzaga, will be in the lineup Monday at Springfield, Mass. He averaged 11.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 37 games with Delaware and Los Angeles.