Dare to Fly: 10 NBA Players We Wish Would Do the Dunk Contest

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIFebruary 13, 2013

Dare to Fly: 10 NBA Players We Wish Would Do the Dunk Contest

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    The NBA Slam Dunk Contest has become the equivalent of doing stand-up comedy for a comedian. It is something you do as you rise through the ranks in hopes of attaining stardom.

    Once you get to a certain level, i.e.: major movies/NBA All Star appearances, it becomes something you're too big to participate in.

    LeBron James said as much in an interview with Fox Sports:

    "It's over with. I'm getting too old for that. ... There were times when I wanted to do it. But I came into All-Star Weekend a few times banged up and I didn't want to risk further injury."

    Too old for that? No, dude is 27 years old.

    Too good for that? Perhaps, it depends on your thinking.

    It is obvious he still has the itch, as evidenced by this teaser tweet he recently released on his account.

    Dunk contest?

    — LeBron James (@KingJames) February 8, 2013

    Come on man, stop doing this to the people. Let the king represent and breathe some life back into the dunk contest.

    Even if he appears, there is no guarantee he'd win. James certainly has the explosion, but winning the contest is about more than just hops.

    It takes creativity and personality. Those are the two traits that separate game-dunkers from contest-dunkers. Rarely will you see a guy that is both.

    The following list is made up of aerial studs that have either never competed in the contest, or didn't emerge victorious in their previous attempts.

    The dunk contest field for the 2013 NBA Slam Dunk Contest has been announced (SLAM), but there are still a good number of very talented omissions.

    Check out the 10 players we wish would do the dunk contest. 

J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith is a mad gunner from the outside, but he is also an explosive leaper. Smith has a ton of personality and flare for entertaining the crowd.

    That's a big part of putting on a show in the event. Remember Dee Brown pumping up his Reeboks, and Nate Robinson's wardrobe changes.

    Smith appeared in the contest in 2009 as a member of the Denver Nuggets, but he'd have more appeal as a New York Knick.

    He may believe he's ascended passed slam dunk contest participation, but he's never come off to me as the type of guy that goes with the thoughts of the masses.

    I'd love to see the heavily-tatted one compete in the slam dunk contest.

Derrick Rose

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    Obviously, this wouldn't be happening this year. Rose isn't even expected to return from a torn ACL until after All-Star break, but assuming he's just as explosive as before, he could be an exciting participant.

    I do think he's more of a game-dunker than a contest-dunker, but he's one of the most beloved players in the league.

    NBA fans love his humility and passion for the game, and few can get higher than Rose. He did throw down a nice reverse slam when he won the Skills Challenge back in 2009.

    Ask Goran Dragic how high Rose can get up when he's motivated.

     

    Rose has already won NBA MVP, and he guided his team to the Eastern Conference Finals, so he may not want to do a slam dunk contest, but it would be interesting.

Taurian Fontenette AKA The Air Up There

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    Some of you may not know who this guy is, but he is one of the most incredible leapers I've ever seen. He also excels in the area of showmanship, which is pretty much a prerequisite when you spend time on the And 1 basketball tour.

    This former member of the modern day Harlem Globetrotters performed a 720, as seen in the feature video. To make the feat even more amazing, he stands only 6'2" tall.

    That alone should earn him an invitation to All-Star weekend.

    You may be saying, this guy isn't in the NBA, and you would be correct. But in 1989, the NBA allowed Lithuanian sharpshooter Rimas Kurtinaitis to compete in the Three-Point Shootout.

    Can a 30-year-old freak of nature from Hitchcock, Tex. get some love? Look at this highlight reel and tell me you've ever seen a better dunker.

Andre Drummond

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    Very few big men excite me as dunkers, but there are a few exceptions. Shawn Kemp, Dwight Howard and most recently Andre Drummond.

    Big guys usually aren't coordinated enough to make their slams look as exciting as the swingmen and point guards, but Drummond is a special athlete.

    He's surprising people with his play as a rookie for the Detroit Pistons, but if you take a look at his dunking display from First Night with the UConn Huskies in 2011, it proves Drummond is contest worthy.

    Drummond starts his rim assault at the 40-second mark.

Darius Johnson-Odom

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    If the NBA placed as much emphasis on amazing feats of athletic ability as the NFL, Johnson-Odom would have been a lottery pick. Per IMG Academy, Johnson-Odom had the highest vertical leap of any player in the 2012 NBA draft class.

    At 6'2", he possesses a 41.5" vertical, and one look at his muscular build will tell you he's got some power as well.

    He fits the profile of the type of player we've become accustomed to seeing compete in the dunk contest. He hasn't made a splash in the NBA, in fact the Los Angeles Lakers cut him in January.

    The dunk contest could prove to be his coming out party. Unfortunately, he'd need an out-of-NBA exception as well.

    He's currently playing professionally in Russia, per Hoops Rumors.

Iman Shumpert

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    Shumpert just recently returned from his ACL tear, so competing this year is out of the question. But this kid has the required hops and swag to shine in the dunk contest.

    He wowed NBA scouts with a 42" vertical leap before the 2011 draft (KnickerBlogger), and we've seen some flashes of this ability in the NBA.

    Sporting the high top fade, a Chi-Town demeanor seasoned by his stay in the Big Apple, Shumpert could be must-see TV at All-Star Weekend.

    He was supposed to be in the 2012 contest but bowed out because of a knee injury. He was replaced by eventual winner Jeremy Evans, per ESPN.

    Once he's 100 percent healthy, maybe he can compete and show why he was invited as a rookie.

Russell Westbrook

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    Westbrook and Rose are very similar athletes. Both are around the same height, and while Rose may be a little more powerful, Westbrook is every bit the leaper.

    He has already thrown down some amazing jams in his NBA career, but he's also ascended to a level of stardom that may make him see the dunk contest as beneath him.

    He's a vicious competitor, and I know that if he decided to compete, he'd be there to win it. It would be great to see someone so gifted in the contest, and taking it seriously.

Jared Cunningham

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    Cunningham is a 6'4" rookie for the Dallas Mavericks. He doesn't play a whole lot, but I have witnessed his dunking ability during his days playing with Oregon State.

    He's explosive and has the ability to glide in the air.

    Some dunkers are strictly about height, but Cunningham gets great distance. He's only playing 3.3 minutes per game, so he'll be getting more floor time in this event than he's received all season.

Elliot Williams

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    Playing sparingly for a small-market team like the Portland Trail Blazers could keep you under the radar, but Williams has serious hops.

    Take a look at the under-the-leg windmill slam Williams threw down at the Blazers Fan Fest in 2011. He will miss the entire 2012-2013 season with an Achilles injury, per Yahoo Sports.

    Upon his return, we can only hope he hasn't lost a measure of his athleticism. He's yet to make a splash in the NBA, so appearing in the dunk contest could be a way to gain notoriety.

Lebron James

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    Last, but certainly not least is King James. I included a video of James' nastiest dunks, but we are all witnesses to his extraordinary leaping ability on a near nightly basis.

    LeBron's involvement in the dunk contest would be the single best thing to happen to the event since Vince Carter's epic performances.

    In many ways, it would be even bigger. Never before has a superstar with James' resume turned back the NBA accomplishment clock, and graced fans with their presence in the exhibition.

    The ultra fan-friendly move would also put the final touches on his image repair project. This needs to happen.