In the hours immediately following Jeremy Evans being crowned as the new NBA Slam Dunk Champion, there has been a lot of criticism towards the braces-wearing youngster from Western Kentucky.
But my question would be this: who else?
First up, Chase Budinger, who was seemingly out to defile the Dunk Contest in every way possible. His first dunk, when he jumped over P. Diddy, was the nicest and started the contest off strong, but the scripted part at the beginning sort of ruined it.
Next was his windmill dunk, which was the exact same as Derrick Williams', just without anything to jump over. Even if Budinger had that dunk planned, couldn't he have just scrapped it and went with something else?
Isn't he an NBA player? Doesn't he know more than three dunks?
Then came his third dunk, the Cedric Ceballos tribute dunk. As ESPN's John Hollinger—and I'm hoping everyone else in America—realized, it was incredibly and painfully scripted
So scripted it hurt.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) February 26, 2012
Likely down near Budinger in the votes was Derrick Williams, who was completely underwhelming and had trouble finishing most of his attempts.
Most memorably, he couldn't even come close in his attempt to mimic Jason Richardson by throwing the ball off the backboard and then going through the legs. Even if Williams would have been able to hold on to the ball—which he couldn't—he wasn't getting nearly high enough to dunk it.
Much like Budinger, it was painful to watch.
That leaves the only real competitor to Evans' title last night: Paul George.
George's first dunk over 7'2" Roy Hibbert was insanely impressive, but he failed the first two attempts and had to use Hibbert's shoulder to propel himself on the third, taking away from the allure.
His second dunk, the "Tron" dunk, was cool, but I feel like it would have been better if we could have seen it.
It was the same dunk Vince Carter did back in 2000 to gain National fame. It was a truly amazing and underrated dunk, but George should have taken away the theatrics of it.
His last dunk would have been the most special, but again, it took him too many attempts. When he finally completed it, he had run out of Larry Bird stickers to post on the backboard, and again the allure was gone.
Something really needs to be done about all the missed dunks, by the way, but that's for another day.
So whether Jeremy Evans simply lucked out from less-than-stiff competition or not, one thing is clear.
He deserved to win.
His dunk of two balls over Gordon Hayward was easily the best dunk of the night, and his "Dirty Karl" straight over Kevin Hart was probably the most underrated dunk of the night.
And if you're a fan of props, his first dunk, although pretty average, featured camera vision, which was pretty clever in itself.
So give credit where credit is due. It may have been a lackluster event, but it wasn't Jeremy Evans' fault. He came to put on a show, and that's exactly what he did.
If all four competitors were on his level last night, we would be talking right now about how the Dunk contest is "back."
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