The contest has seen names like Michael Jordan, Tom Chambers, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp, Larry Johnson, John Starks, Allan Houston, and Jerry Stackhouse. The early 2000's were great thanks to guys like Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Jason Richardson. Players still in the league - such as Josh Smith, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard - have given us some great contests as well.
What is so hard for me to understand is how some of these stars don't jump at an opportunity to participate in the Dunk Contest. When these players were growing up, they must have watched the Dunk Contest every year and dreamed of being able to participate some day, right? It's not like it takes an overwhelming amount of energy or poses a significant injury risk. It just seems to me that the Dunk Contest would be a fun thing to do for these guys.
If some of the game's elite athletes don't start stepping up, the league should find some sort of added incentive. The obvious first thought would be a big monetary prize, but they could also get creative and figure something out. The winner could have money donated to a charity of his choice, or be featured in the NBA's next advertising campaign - I don't know. I'm just throwing out ideas off the top of my head, but the Dunk Contest was once great, and it is sad to see it trending downwards like this.
Explosive and electrifying. Then Jason Richardson took the between-the-legs dunk to the next level a few years later:
Then creativity took over with the theatrics of Kryptonate (shut up, Reggie, it's still impressive):
And finally, one of my favorites from the Dunk Contest's most recent good year - JaVale McGee taking a classic to the next level:
Remember how you felt when those guys shocked you with those dunks? Don't you miss that feeling? There's no doubt in my mind that if LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and company got involved in the Dunk Contest, they could think of some original dunks that would wow NBA fans. Why they don't get involved, I can't understand, but the NBA needs to figure out a way to make it happen and bring the Dunk Contest back to prominence.