Did you watch the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest? If so, I apologize on behalf of the NBA. It seemed like mediocrity of epic proportions and I found myself wondering when it would be over soon after it started.
The names involved were not really basketball royalty. However, no one assumed the young man with probably the worst startup dunk in the history of the competition would trump a glow-in-the-dark dunk.
It may have been unheard of before Saturday night, but Twitter sounded off in light of the injustice soon after.
The All-Star Game was a totally different story. It usually is.
The difference between the Pro Bowl and the NBA All-Star Game is that the offense, without much defense, is still strikingly impressive. The only thing that makes offense shocking and “retweetable” in the NFL is because of such tight defense and incredible coverage.
But that’s neither here nor there. The Western Conference All-Stars might not have danced their way out of the tunnel to “Ima Boss” by Meek Mill, but they walked away glorious at the end of the game.
And that’s how the West won.
But what may seem to be slightly more interesting is Kevin Durant’s tweet after the game had been played. He voiced the opinion of millions of NBA fans who watched the All-Star Game turn into four quarters of highlights: “It's time for @KingJames, Mr Westbrook, Mr.Rose, and @DwyaneWade to get in the dunk contest.”
Thank you, Baby Jordan! You are officially the voice of the people. At least you are the voice of those who were gravely disappointed with Saturday night’s events.
The announcers took notice of how electrifying the men playing in the All-Star Game were as well. A lot of nominations for the dunk contest were automatically handed over to LeBron, Wade and Rose, but there was an underdog prowling that made his bidding an option.
Russell Westbrook, a reserve for the Western Conference All-Stars and Durant’s partner in pick-and-roll, showed such speed, power and versatility behind his dunks that the contest automatically requires him. There is one huge problem with the notion that all of these men should be in the dunk contest.
They probably never will be.
Westbrook is a strong maybe, simply because he is young and likes to be in the spotlight. Putting together creative showcases of his athleticism may be just what the doctor ordered for his ego. But LeBron, Rose and Wade on the other hand? Don’t hold your breath.
LeBron has been begged for seasons to participate in the dunk contest. His size, speed and train-like barreling ability make him a key candidate. However, there is far too much pressure for him to live up to.
At this point in his career, winning mindless trophies such as that one would mean nothing if he did not win the Finals. It would all be for naught, and everyone would go back to saying the exact same thing about him as they have before: "He is a great talent, but not a great leader. He is too Hollywood to win it all. Will LeBron ever make that huge step to the next level?"
Dwyane Wade still has the juice in his knees for one more run, but he would never risk the second half of the season for a trophy that really means squat to him in the long run. Wade is concerned about one thing and one thing only.
Winning multiple NBA championships and proving everyone wrong who doubted the compilation of the "Big Three" in Miami is far more important. A slam dunk trophy? Pish posh!
Derrick Rose is just not that type of player. He does what he does in Chicago night in and night out, contributing in any way possible for the betterment of the team—not for individual props.
He is a superstar, but he is a team player first, willing to disintegrate his own shine for the good of the whole. The Bulls have a true gem on their squad, but the dunk contest will never be so lucky. Sorry, fans. The truth is not always so sweet.
So here we are in the ultimate conundrum. The players we would love to see in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest may never participate, and all of our hearts will be crushed.
Do we continue to watch? Do we just allow ratings to increasingly drop so much to the point that the dunk contest is no longer held? If we do that, the possibility of our favorite NBA players showing off drops from five percent to zero percent.
So, what is there to do?
Let’s stomach it for a few more years. Maybe if we wish upon a star, the craziest thing will happen.
Say maybe, LeBron vs. Rose vs. Griffin vs. Westbrook?
Follow Joye Pruitt on Twitter @JoyetheWar.
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