Jeremy Evans Slam Dunk Contest: Winner Benefits from Weak Field and Bad Format

Patrick Clarke@@_Pat_ClarkeCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2012

Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans was the best of the worst on All-Star Saturday night in Orlando, Fla., winning the Sprite Slam Dunk competition after the four contestants laid down a total of 12 planned-out jams, only a few of which defied pedestrian.

Evans' two-ball and two-handed dunk over teammate Gordon Hayward, who lobbed him the balls from an elevated chair in front of the rim was by far the most impressive of the night.

But that gem was preceded by an embarrassing gimmick gone wrong when Evans attempted to give the fans "dunk vision" and wound up just putting home an awkward reverse jam.

It's not Evans' fault he won, though. He came to Orlando with creativity and took the competition more seriously than the other three. Kudos.

That being said, however, his first-ever Sprite Slam Dunk title was the product of a weak field of dunkers and a bad new format that is absolutely the result of a weak field of dunkers.

Does the league really think that by shortening the event, it will become more appealing to fans?

Arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time won this competition twice in Michael Jordan, who won back-to-back in 1987 and 1988. Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin then all followed suit as dunk contest participants and champions.

Now no one is asking Kobe to bunker down in the mad dunk-scientist lab during All-Star weekend anymore, but for some of the league's young superstars still trending up for their career, their presence in the dunk contest should be a rite of passage and determined by the fans.

There should be no more flying sixth men and role players in to fill the four-man field. If LeBron James or Dwyane Wade can sit court side while cheering and eating hot dogs, then they can take an hour on Saturday night and give the fans what they want, which is basically a pregame dunk warm-up line that actually counts.

But for as much as the NBA cares, its superstars do not care enough to keep alive the fading, memory-filled event that is for the fans who support them on a nightly basis.

The elite dunkers in basketball are the stars of the NBA, and even if they are not the most obvious of jam specialists, like Howard a few years back, the same supreme athleticism that lifted their faces to billboards and their jerseys to the front rack should be the least they can show off for the fans.

Evans was not horrible on Saturday night, he came and conquered, but his victory was without question a direct benefit from an awkward three-dunk format and hands-down the weakest field of contestants in the history of the competition.

 

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