If you’ve never seen an MLL All-Star game, the Freestyle Competition is the lacrosse version of the slam-dunk contest; a few guys take turns showing off their best shot, the winner gets a giant cardboard check… you know how it goes.
A great freestyle shot can be difficult, creative or both, but above all, it has to be entertaining. Win the crowd, and you will win your giant cardboard check. Keeping that Gladiatorial edict in mind, here are the five greatest MLL freestyle shots (that were readily available in individual youtube clips) of all time:
5) 2009: Brett Queener’s Thriller Shot
Brett Queener must have had some serious connections over at Denver’s Invesco Field. As part of his first trick, the grounds crew drove him around the stadium in the flatbed of a John Deere (that he jumped off of while moving). For his second shot, they fired up a little Michael Jackson over the loudspeakers for this moving tribute to the King of Pop.
4) 2011: Paul Rabil’s Car Jump
Like Blake Griffin the same year, Paul Rabil jumped over the hood of a car for his final shot. Also like Blake Griffin, if you’re going to go through the trouble of bringing a car all the way out there, you’re probably going to win the grand prize. After what was probably the most talked-about freestyle shot of all time (some people argued that it didn’t deserve 1st place), Rabil became the first person in MLL history to win the Freestyle and Fastest Shot Competitions.
3) 2011: Stephen Berger’s Time Machine
Stephen Berger has been an MLL All-Star every year since 2007 and has entered the freestyle contest each time. He’s done behind the back catches, he’s used the stick like a skateboard, you name it. He consistently brings out some of the most creative, humorous or technically impressive tricks, yet someone else always takes his spotlight (and the grand prize). In 2011, Berger teamed up with 8-year-old Joey Spallina (that name might sound familiar to MLL fans) for this two-man “time machine” shot. Well, shots. Whatever, take a look:
While it didn’t win the competition, their shot did make it to Sportscenter’s Top Plays. Well, Joey’s part did. Again, no love for Berger.
2) 2008: Chazz Woodson Jumps Two Kids
Chazz Woodson’s already made the ESPN highlight reels several times this season, but taking to the sky is nothing new for him. Back in 2008, he brought out two volunteers for this aerial shot:
The best part of the whole shot may be the kids’ “Did he do it! Oh my gosh, he did it!” post-goal reaction.
(By the way – think the kids are too small for this to be impressive? Pause it around 0:36 and you’ll see the kids are about as high as his chest. Next, pause it around 0:37 and you’ll see his feet are at their heads. It’s a pretty decent jump.)
1) 2006: Mike Powell’s Flip
We first saw the flip two years earlier in the Carrier Dome, and Mike Powell brought it back with some extra flair for the 2006 Freestyle Competition. Difficult? Yup. Creative? That too. When the other guy in the contest does this, you know you’re playing for 2nd place.
What will we see in the Freestyle Competition this Saturday? No idea. Who will we see? Don’t really know that one either. Jovan Miller confirmed his participation via twitter, and you know Stephen Berger’s back (he’s looking for trick shot suggestions on twitter, so send your ideas ASAP to @SBerger13), but the league hasn’t made any formal announcement about the participants.
Whoever shows up, another legendary shot may be on the way. What’s going to be the one trick shot to control them all? And who is going to pull it off?