There has recently been speculation about LeBron James "taking his talents" to All-Star Weekend 2012 and competing in the annual Slam Dunk contest.
James has certainly entertained the possibility of competing before, and while many fans would love to see him participate, I think that it would be a bad idea.
LeBron is unquestionably one of the most gifted athletes the NBA has ever seen. His combination of size, strength and leaping ability is almost unprecedented. Because of these unbelievable gifts, you would assume that James is the perfect candidate for the dunk contest.
And you would be right.
I can’t deny that watching LeBron throw it down would be anything short of spectacular. Competitions like this were made for guys like James.
However, no matter how impressive he could potentially be, he’ll never live up to the massive expectations that are in place.
Every couple of years in the dunk contest, the bar is raised just a little bit higher. Vince Carter set the standard in 2000 with the most impressive performance ever. A few years later, Jason Richardson put his extraordinary athletic ability on display with several jaw-dropping dunks. Dwight Howard has since taken the contest to the next level by showing off his creativity and enthusiasm.
Last year, Blake Griffin won one of the most memorable competitions in recent memory. All four contestants came prepared and put on an incredibly entertaining show for the fans.
Unfortunately for LeBron, that means that the standard is at an all-time high. When you consider that everything he does is heavily scrutinized, it becomes clear that there is an enormous amount of pressure on him to perform.
Even if he falls just short of the unrealistic expectations, fans will walk away disappointed. This is LeBron James we’re talking about. Because we expect the world from him, we unfairly hold him to different standards.
This brings me to my next point. If LeBron realizes that he needs to be spectacular to impress, he may try to push himself and attempt something that has never been done before. Risking an injury for a largely insignificant contest just seems unnecessary, especially considering the grueling season that we have on our hands.
Even for the athletes participating in the events, the All-Star break traditionally acts as a period of rest and recovery for NBA players. LeBron should take full advantage of that break and finish the regular season with momentum.
Although it’s highly unlikely that he would hurt himself, I still don’t think it’s worth it. What he could potentially lose far outweighs what he has to gain.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, winning a dunk contest shouldn't be LeBron’s main priority this year. In fact, I don’t even think he should be considering it.
After his disappointing performance in last year's Finals series, James should be primarily focused on redeeming himself by winning his first championship ring. The dunk contest is merely a distraction for LeBron James at this point in his career. Anything less than a title in Miami this year will be seen as a failure.
Picturing the best player in the world flying through the air on All-Star Weekend is a tantalizing thought. But for LeBron James and his Miami Heat, loftier goals must be achieved. It’s time for the King to decide. Does he want to be remembered as an entertainer or as a champion?
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