If there was one aspect of the game of basketball that fans both love to see and get hyped about, it would have to be the art of the slam dunk.
There's just something about watching an athlete charge to the hoop with every intention of destroying it that puts fans in a frenzy. Whether it is a powerful dunk over a defender or a flashy slam that makes a fan's jaw drop, the slam dunk has always been a crowd pleaser.
While many fans would think the NBA Slam Dunk Contest would be the epitome of best dunks, in recent years it has been everything but that. Arguably once the most electrifying contest at All-Star weekend, it has continued to disappoint and quite simply become a snooze.
With the NBA All-Star weekend right around the corner, here are some ways the NBA and its participants can resurrect the dunk contest.
The obvious way to get the fans and the excitement back into the NBA Slam Dunk Contest would be to put superstars into the competition.
While competing solely relies on the decisions of superstar athletes themselves, the NBA should try to persuade these stars into participating any which way they can.
Whether the NBA decides to create some kind of incentives to lure these athletes, getting superstars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and/or Kevin Durant, would instantly make the dunk contest must-watch TV.
Although I wouldn't count on any superstar athletes participating in this year's dunk contest, getting star players to compete against each other in the future would be a dream come true for any NBA fan.
For last year's dunk contest, the NBA implemented new rules which essentially got rid of live judges at the event.
Instead of having live judges who scored the first round of dunks for the contestants like previous years, the NBA opted to leave the judging and voting exclusively to the fans.
While the intention of engaging fans was a great idea by the league, leaving the judging and voting only to them created a mess when it came down to deciding the winner.
Last year's champ, Jeremy Evans, won the dunk contest with 29 percent of the 3 million total votes.
I believe the league should go back to the old way of determining the champ by having judges score the first round and narrowing the field to two, then having the fans vote for the winner in the second.
In recent years, the dunk contest has become an event with less dunking and more theatrics.
While sometimes theatrics can add exclamation to a dunk, most times it is just flat-out corny. In the 2011 NBA dunk contest, Blake Griffin displayed corniness at its finest when he dunked over a hood of a car while a choir sang "I Believe I Can Fly."
Although Griffin's dunk was impressive, the narration by TNT analyst Kenny Smith and the background singing of the choir took away emphasis from the dunk instead of adding to it.
In my opinion, the NBA should try to limit the use of theatrics and just have the contestants go out and dunk.
While I don't completely agree with the fact that NBA players should get additional money for simply competing in an event, if money is what will get marquee names into the dunk contest, I'm all for it.
After last year's dunk contest, CBS Sports' writer Royce Young asked LeBron James if he would change his mind in participating in the contest if their was a $1 million cash prize on the line. James replied with, "Then I'd reconsider...Wouldn't you?"
Although James is obviously financially stable, money always talks. If a $1 million incentive can change James' mind, the question arises—which other superstar would join him?
It may be easier said than done, but fans want to see something new in the dunk contest.
It seems like every single year, at least one contestant decides to dunk over a teammate as one of their few attempts. While I'm not saying that a dunk like that is easy, it's a dunk that is constantly repeated over and over again.
Contestants should know what they're getting themselves into and prepare dunks that are both unique and visually appealing. The slam dunk is one of the few things that raises fans up from their seats, and the dunk contest should be the ultimate place for that to happen.