LeBron James Tweet Sparks Dunk Contest Speculation

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterFebruary 8, 2013

January 17, 2013;  Los Angeles, CA, USA;     Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) dunks in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Will there be a surprise participant in the Slam Dunk Contest during NBA All-Star Weekend? Or is LeBron James just trolling the internet?

We'd all like to know. At the very least, Jeremy Evans, Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried, Eric Bledsoe, Terrence Ross and James White would like to know. They're the ones presently set to compete for the dunking crown in 2013.

Not that anyone would mind if LeBron crashed the party in Houston at this point. It'd be like when Prince bumped Portishead from the Saturday headliner spot at Coachella in 2008.

Except, if instead of covering "Creep" by Radiohead, he decided to take Charlie Murphy to school in front of 20,000 screaming fans.

James has toyed with the idea of putting his prodigious power and athleticism to such spectacular use in years past, but he has yet to commit to taking part in the event that officially turned Michael Jordan into an icon.

The competition could certainly use the wattage that LeBron brings to the table, especially after last year's disaster in Orlando. The current field includes two past Dunk Contest winners (Evans in 2012 and Green in 2007), though neither is featured with any prominence on his current team. Hoops heads have long wanted to see James White strut his stuff on just such a stage, especially after this Russian showdown with Green in 2010.

But "Flight White" averages all of 1.8 points in 6.2 minutes per game for the New York Knicks this season. A gifted athlete he may be, but a star he is not.

On the flip side, Faried, Bledsoe and Ross all come equipped with future all-star potential, as did Paul George when he was in the mix last year. And, luckily for the NBA, the league is only two years removed from a spectacular show in which Blake Griffin outlasted JaVale McGee, Serge Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan by leaping clear over a Kia.

LeBron, though, could put all of those guys to shame simply by showing up. After all, it's not every (or any) year that a three-time MVP, two-time Olympic gold medalist and a defending champion throws his hat into the ring.

In a way, James would be out of place in this particular event. The Slam Dunk Contest has evolved over the years into a showcase featuring young upstarts (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin) announcing their arrival and bit players (Jeremy Evans, Nate Robinson, Gerald Green, Desmond Mason) milking their 15 minutes of fame.

Not since the days of MJ going head-to-head with Dominique Wilkins has the Dunk Contest been home to superstars at or near their respective peaks.

Still, few (if any) would begrudge James for butting in. He'd be the first member of the Miami Heat to take to the air on national TV in such a manner since Harold Minor won his second slam dunk title in 1995. One would assume that LBJ could top Baby Jordan at his best any day of the week.

Let's not get our hopes up, though. Maybe LeBron's tweet was intended as an informal poll of his fans to see what they thought of this year's field, albeit with a bit of a teasing element. Maybe James needed help figuring out what to do with his All-Star Saturday and posed watching the Dunk Contest as an option.

Or, maybe, just maybe, LeBron was testing the Twittersphere while rethinking his prior answer to Dwyane Wade, his Heat teammate and the captain of the Eastern Conference for All-Star Saturday, regarding the role he'd play in the festivities.

It's a long shot, but perhaps LeBron's hesitancy is for the best. A few dunks like these...

...and the Toyota Center might collapse in on itself.