It's almost an annual ritual for NBA fans to decree that the NBA Slam Dunk Contest is dead, and yet, every year it continues to deliver solid entertainment.
In case you missed the announcement, the six participants were named Thursday night (h/t NBA.com).
They are as follows:
|Gerald Green||Indiana Pacers|
|Terrence Ross||Toronto Raptors|
|James White||New York Knicks|
|Eric Bledsoe||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Jeremy Evans||Utah Jazz|
|Kenneth Faried||Denver Nuggets|
In terms of trying to work with the best players available, the league absolutely nailed the participants for this year.
In this year's field, you've got former champions in Jeremy Evans and Gerald Green. They have already demonstrated a high level of creativity and ability in their dunk contest victories.
Green, in particular, is the kind of player who can add in the necessary flair to make his dunks unique and steal the show once again.
Then there's guys like Terrence Ross and James White, who were pushed heavily by fans and players and definitely deserve a place. It's good that the league took notice of the two despite their relatively minor on-court production.
Supplementing those four athletic dunkers is Kenneth Faried and Eric Bledsoe.
White is somebody who could put on a major show. He's finished runner-up in dunk contests at both the high school and college levels. Those who haven't seen White in the 2008 Turkish Basketball League dunk contest need to watch the video below.
On All-Star Weekend, there isn't a bigger event Saturday night than the Slam Dunk Contest. The Three-Point Contest and Skills Challenge are always good fun to watch, but it is the Dunk Contest that gets talked about the next day.
It's not as if three-point shooting or passing have evolved over the years in the way that dunking has. With the way basketball players are becoming more freakish athletes, it allows them to do things previously unthinkable.
Somewhat more exciting is the fans get to see a player they might know very little about stepping up on a large stage and putting his talent on display. There's a much bigger unpredictability factor involved that can add some surprise and intrigue.
Stars like LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, etc. lead the highlights every night. Fans have already seen them dunk on multiple occasions.
Fans need to face the fact that the biggest stars in the league aren't going to sign up for the Slam Dunk Contest anymore. The days of seeing players Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins put on epic duels are long gone, and they're not coming back.
You'll never be able to enjoy watching the event if all you're doing is bemoaning the absence of major stars.
Plus, at the end of the day, does it really matter whether somebody like James participates?
Sure it would help the spectacle, but it doesn't really make the competition itself that much better. If a guy is a great dunker, what does it matter how big of a star they are? The things they do will still be incredible and bring the house down.