Last Saturday in Orlando, the NBA Dunk Contest was taken even deeper into the depths of mediocrity. Unless you have the NBA League Pass you didn’t even know the participants involved. Just for fun I’m going to name all of them and see if they ring a bell without a Google search.
The winner was Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz who received 29 percent of the public vote. The other players were Chase Budinger, Paul George, and Derrick Williams.
If you know these players you are most likely an NBA scout or their teammate.
Honestly, there were probably more exciting dunks in Friday’s Rising Stars game than in the Sprite NBA Slam Dunk Contest itself. Instead of trying to create stars on Saturday, the league should use the ones they already have!
Star power is primarily the largest problem for the league.
In years past, we had players like Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Dee Brown, Spud Webb and Vince Carter just to name a few. These players were well known before they stepped on the court. For many years, the dunk contest was even more exciting than the actual All-Star game itself because of the skill set of the players involved.
The league was heading into the right track with Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson in past years.
Many fans wonder why the real stars known for playing above the rim aren’t participating in the event. LeBron James said last year after Blake Griffin jumped over a Kia that he was going to be in the contest. Like many of LeBron’s guarantees, they were not followed through in the end. Every NBA fans knows that James could easily win the contest hands down.
Many elite players in the league consider the mid-season break as vacation time to prepare for the second half of the season. Griffin couldn’t participate because he was in the Rising Stars game as well as the All-Star game. That gives him a totally viable excuse. Unlike LeBron James, John Wall, Andre Inguodala, Josh Smith, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
Others even speak of getting injured. We are talking some dunks here, not a triathlon.
The only real improvement to the dunk contest was the voting system. Now that Twitter and Facebook are the biggest communication tool, its obvious how the voting process should run.
If the league wanted some more juice from social media, maybe fans should vote on whom they want to see. So if a player refused, the media and fans would blast them. Others say put a higher purse on the winner, but opting out after the world votes you in makes for more hype before and after the contest.
Then the verbal bashing would create even more storylines before All-Star Saturday night. Just picture Charles Barkley knocking the players who turned down the opportunity given to them by the fans?
If the NBA wants us to watch, the stars need to get out of their courtside seats and step on the floor!