Minnesota Timberwolves rookie point guard Zach LaVine grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant.
The two faced off for the first time last Nov. 28, and LaVine outscored Bryant 28 to 26 in a 120-119 win. Still, LaVine said he was in awe.
"I'm like, 'Oh dang, Kobe is guarding me, that's my idol,'" he said. "It's a little weird but you still have to play."
The 19-year-old LaVine can join his idol in NBA Slam Dunk Contest history if he wins the event Saturday at Barclays Center. LaVine's competition will be Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic, the Nets' Mason Plumlee and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
LaVine would be the second youngest player ever to win the dunk crown -- second only to Bryant who won as an 18-year-old in 1997.
LaVine said his favorite slam dunk moment, however, wasn't from Bryant. It was from a dunk contest before he was even born.
"I used to watch Michael Jordan tapes when I was really younger," he said. "When he did like a windmill on the sideline, and you didn't really notice how good it was or how graceful it was until you slowed it down. His head spun around and his feet kicked out ... only one person can do that."
That dunk was in 1988 when Chicago hosted and Jordan beat Dominique Wilkins in an historic showdown. Jordan finished off the "Human Highlight Reel" with a perfect 50 score dunk from the free-throw line to win the title.