ROCKFORD – When Fred VanVleet proclaimed, “Rockford, Rockford, it’s for you, baby!” after winning his first NBA Championship, he shined a bright spotlight on his hometown.
He brought the spoils of victory back home for the third annual FVV Fan Fest. VanVleet carried the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Trophy, awarded to the Toronto Raptors in June, into the main gym of the UW Health Sports Factory to a roar from the big crowd in attendance.
Two hours prior, doors opened to the Fan Fest with both sides of the Sports Factory offering all sorts of activities for children and their parents – hockey, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, e-sports and many more from local businesses and sponsors.
After addressing the crowd with the trophy shortly after 7 o’clock, VanVleet settled in with everyone else for a three-point shooting contest and a dunk contest. The three-point competition came down to Pecatonica sophomore Hunter Hoffman and East head boys basketball coach Roy Sackmaster, with Hoffman winning in overtime after they tied in the finals.
The dunk contest brought every fan out of their seat. Lutheran graduate Josh Streeter and Auburn graduate Antoine Pittman put on a show through two rounds and the finals, with Pittman edging Streeter out by three points. Celebrity judges for the dunk contest included VanVleet himself, Auburn head boys basketball coach Bryan Ott, and Rockford native Dean Lowry, who came home prior to starting NFL training camp with the Green Bay Packers.
VanVleet’s youth basketball camp now takes over the Sports Factory on Saturday and Sunday.