The 2012 NBA All-Star game is quickly approaching, as are the various skills contests.
Of them, there is little doubt the Slam Dunk Contest is the one fans anticipate the most, and for good reason.
With the combination of athleticism and creativity working in harmony, dunks have ranged from super heros taking flight to Kias serving as props, much to the delight of fans. Those fans, and their interest in the competition, are the reason why the Utah Jazz’s Jeremy Evans needs to be one of the contestants in Orlando.
When selecting contestants for the slam dunk competition, no official process is followed—there is not any established criteria for determining who gets to compete.
It would benefit the NBA to have representation from more small market teams in the Slam Dunk Contest as a way to increase exposure for those players and the franchises they play for.
No, this is not a flashy argument lined with highlight reels, but rather it is a logical one.
It would be easier to simply say that Evans can jump high and has performed enough acrobatic dunks this year to be considered, but the most important and compelling reason is the NBA’s bottom line.
David Stern and the NBA brass need to look at the All-Star Weekend in terms of league sustainability.
One of the major sticking points during the 2011 lockout—one that dragged on much longer than fans and anyone with a vested interest in the NBA wanted—was to figure out a way to help the smaller market teams remain financial viable.
Getting players from some of those smaller markets, like Salt Lake City, into marquee competitions like the Slam Dunk Contest is a perfect way to help those teams gain some additional exposure while, perhaps, adding another (minor) star to the NBA’s crown.
The 2012 NBA All-Star game fails in this regard, too.
Of five spots on the Western Conference starting roster, two cities and three franchises are represented, with Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant representing the Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin represent the Los Angeles Clippers.
Only the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durrant, thankfully situated in one of the smaller markets and with an intent to stay for at least another five years, breaks up the stranglehold L.A. has on the Western Conference starters.
If you have seen Evans score—meaning you have seen him dunk—then you know he is athletic enough to be able to amaze the crowd in Orlando. Given his limited playing time—only six minutes a game—he would have plenty of time and energy to prepare a repertoire of “Human Pogo-Stick” dunks.
In the best interests of the NBA and it's future, Jeremy Evans should be in the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend in Central Florida later this month.