Boston Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, shown here at the Portland Expo before a practice with the G League Maine Red Claws, had a role in the NBA slam dunk contest on Saturday night in Chicago when Orlando’s Aaron Gordon leaped over him on a dunk. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

CHICAGO — Tacko Fall made it to NBA All-Star weekend, though not in the way many fans had hoped when they voted him sixth among Eastern Conference front-court players in balloting for starters.

The Boston Celtics/Maine Red Claws two-way player even got seven votes from NBA players.

“I was actually scared,” said Fall, who was here as one of the coaches in the league’s Basketball Without Borders camp and to make some promotional appearances – and wound up with a cameo role in Saturday’s dunk contest.

“I was praying for me not to be in the All-Star Game,” he said. “I mean, it’s all fun and games and I was very appreciative of it, but at the same time there’s so many people that deserve to be there. Especially right now, there’s some people that deserve to be there that are not there. So just imagine if I was voted into the All-Star Game. I would not have felt good about that.

“Hopefully someday I will work hard enough to make it just not through the fan vote.”

Fall got involved with the slam dunk extravaganza when Orlando’s Aaron Gordon couldn’t get Shaquille O’Neal to let him jump over him, so he turned to Fall.


Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic reacts after he was defeated by the Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. in the NBA slam dunk contest in Chicago on Saturday night. On one of Gordon’s dunks, he leaped over 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall. Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

“I wanted to jump over Shaq. He didn’t want to do it,” said Gordon, who completed the dunk over Fall but still finished runner-up to Derrick Jones Jr. “It was really for the people. Everybody was like ‘Tacko! Tacko!’ I was like, cool, man, let’s do it. The tallest dude in the gym. Jumping over somebody that’s 7-5 (in bare feet).”

Fall made it through alive, though he said afterward he was sufficiently frightened.

That excitement aside, being on the court with the BWB campers was good enough, even if it included standing still while players drove at him in a drill.

“I know,” Fall said. “It’s the most I’ve been dunked on in my career. But, I mean, in a few years, hopefully a lot of them will make it to the NBA, and then we’ll see how it really is.”

Getting more serious, Fall said, “Being here means a lot to me, especially doing this camp last summer back home in Senegal. When they told me they had another camp here, I didn’t hesitate. I said I wanted to be a part of it and just help the youth, especially back home in Africa, and guide them and just teach them whatever I’ve learned so far in my career.

“Absolutely it is my responsibility,” Fall said in response to a separate question, “especially where I came from, my journey so far and some other people back home that are looking up to us. It’s our duty to pave the way for them, to guide them. For me, it’s a great way to do it.”

Though Fall hasn’t enjoyed the bitter cold here, he’s loving the All-Star hoopla.

“I got here early,” he said. “I got here (Wednesday) and it’s been quite the experience. I used to watch (the All-Star Game) from the outside, and just being a part of it and seeing how everything works reminds me of how far I’ve come and encourages me to keep working.”

Comments are not available on this story.