Grading Every Slam Dunk Contest Contestant
The dunk contest is dead. Long live the dunk contest.
That seemed to be the social-media sentiment as an awful beginning gave way to a series of ending flourishes. A lot of tension was built up on behalf of James White, who had been built up as basketball's premier dunker.
Unfortunately for White, and for the fans, his big-stage moment was highly disappointing. The air seemed to deflate out of the event as White kept missing his attempts.
Thankfully, one big Faried jam led to a series of actually successful jams from other participants. The dunk contest might not be what it once was, but at least it evaded disaster.
Jeremy Evans: B
I'm not sure why Jeremy Evans tried to kill Mark Eaton, but it was an intriguing stylistic choice. His dunk over the seated former Jazz center injected some tension into an otherwise dull setting.
Evans probably did not deserve to advance to the finals, but he wasn't terrible, either. He might have gotten a higher grade had his jump over a painting included the unveiling of said painting, but it was a solid attempt regardless.
Jeremy Evans received what looked like an alley-oop from Dahntay Jones in the final round. Perhaps that's where this contest is heading: simple dunks, done well.
James White: D
James White was something of an urban legend. After tonight's contest, he descends to somewhere between anonymity and infamy.
It started off with so much pomp, with "Flight White" surrounded by stewardesses and runway accoutrements. What followed was his best try of the evening, and it wasn't that impressive.
After White's "two hand, almost free-throw line" dunk, he tried and tried to complete another. He failed and it was an uncomfortably long process.
Kenneth Faried: B
Man, Kenneth Faried got hosed. Perhaps you could cite how his first dunk was something you might see in-game and that he didn't deserve to win overall.
His second dunk, though, was awesome. The backboard between-the-legs crusher came at a vital time for this dunk contest.
So many misses had preceded the try that Faried's throwdown was wholly refreshing. Perhaps it had nothing to do with the string of good dunks that followed, but it certainly seemed to defibrillate a comatose contest into action.
Eric Bledsoe: C
I was most excited to see the little man fly. Given the chasm between his in-game athletic feats and what we saw on Saturday night, I'm pretty disappointed.
To be fair, Eric Bledsoe did have one cool reverse-pump jam. It wasn't entirely original, but Bledsoe did get up on the attempt.
Eric's problem was that he missed too many dunks between the ones he converted. That can take a crowd out of the experience, which certainly seemed to happen on Saturday.
Gerald Green: C
Gerald Green had an excellent first dunk. He converted cleanly off the side of the backboard.
His second dunk was creative, but proved to be his Waterloo. Green cut the net off, like a college champion.
Anticipation built after the stunt, but Green couldn't capitalize. He kept missing an attempt to dunk a ball twice, getting tired along the way.
It felt, after awhile, like we were watching Green do a pull-up routine. Green was so close to winning this thing, but his ambition was just a little beyond his capability.
Terrence Ross: A
Terrence Ross was smart to play on the judges' yearning for a completed dunk. After a barrage of misses from other players, Ross coolly crammed in a 360 twirler for his second dunk.
In the final round, Ross really made his mark. He flushed a windmill off the side of the backboard, in a style similar to a dunk Andre Iguodala once pulled off.
Ross also dunked over a child, in the highest-drama part of the evening. He came streaking in from half court and narrowly missed the boy's head on the jump. I'm not certain it was the best, or safest, idea, but it was certainly entertaining.