Why can't the Dunk Contest just be good again?

2/18/13 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Another NBA Slam Dunk Contest came and went this past weekend, and this one may have been the worst of recent history. The dunks, for the most part, lacked creativity. There were more missed dunks than I ever remember. Only one starting player was even in the contest (Kenneth Faried). The participants included two players who rarely get in games (James White, Jeremy Evans), two players who play under 20 minutes per game (Gerald Green, Terrence Ross), and a backup point guard (Eric Bledsoe). You would think that players with limited roles would get excited to make a name for themselves in the national spotlight, but that didn't seem to be the case.
Feb 16, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; New York Knicks guard James White attempts a dunk during the 2013 NBA all star slam dunk contest at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
James "Flight" White brought out an entire flight crew for his first dunk, sparking some interest, but the dunk itself was underwhelming and took him several tries before he made it. For the rest of the contest, White relied strictly on his outrageous leaping ability to earn points, rather than trying to do something new and original.

Gerald Green tried to get creative by cutting the net off and causing a ton of hype, but he - like the other contestants - couldn't get his dunk on the first try... or the second... or the third... or the seventh.

Kenneth Faried made a very difficult off-the-backboard 360 dunk, but he just isn't a player with a ton of flair, which made the dunk appear underwhelming. If LeBron had done the same thing, but LeBron-style, it probably would have brought the house down.

Jeremy Evans dunked two basketballs, which was pretty impressive. However, I've already seen someone do that. I've also seen someone dunk two basketballs in two hoops at once, and dunk three basketballs at once.

I'm a huge Eric Bledsoe fan, and his windmill reverse was sweet, but shouldn't have been one of the highlights of the night.

Feb 16, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (right) reacts after receiving the slam dunk contest trophy from television/radio personality Nick Cannon during the 2013 NBA all star slam dunk contest at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsTerrence Ross gave us some good slams, and definitely deserved to win (which he did), but he would have been an afterthought in some of the Dunk Contests over the past fifteen years.

The Dunk Contest has not been good since 2011 when Blake Griffin jumped over a car. I think that Dunk Contest was backed by some conspiracy. Griffin didn't deserve to win. He didn't even deserve to make it to the second round. But hey - they already had a car ready to bring on to the court. That was the demise of the Dunk Contest.


What the Dunk Contest needs now is for the stars to get involved once again. The first Dunk Contest ever included Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler, and Ralph Sampson - four Hall of Fame players. The best player in the 2013 field was Kenneth Faried, who may have some All-Star seasons ahead of him, but is averaging 12.3 points per game this year.
Blog Photo - Why can't the Dunk Contest just be good again?
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.

Remember 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.
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

2/19/13   |   Pat   |   5229 respect

I blame James White for this year. He had the potential to make it an epic dunk contest, and he completely whiffed. He's on of the greatest dunkers of all time, and totally screwed it up.

2/19/13   |   mcleodglen   |   32 respect

dunk contest today isn't the same dunk contest anymore.