The NBA All-Star weekend is packed with both rising stars, exciting events and jaw-dropping displays of athleticism, epitomized by this year's Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
This year’s contest wasn’t loaded with huge names, but it featured some of the league’s best dunkers, including defending champion Jeremy Evans (Utah Jazz), 2007 champion Gerald Green (Indiana Pacers) and competitive dunk specialist James “Flight” White (New York Knicks).
Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers' Eric Bledsoe also put on a show, but it was Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross who took home the hardware with some incredible dunks, including a final jam that saw Ross go between his legs and over top of a ball boy before slamming it home.
As exciting as the marquee dunks proved to be, this year’s competition seemed to lack the creativity and star power to match the excitement of more recent contests. Simply put, it paled in comparison.
We’ll take a look at some lessons future dunk contest participants can take away from this year’s contest to ensure the high-flying action will return to days of the heyday of the star-studded contest.
Bring Back the Stars
While all six of the participants were exceptional dunkers, the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest desperately needed more elite players. Dick Vitale, who knows a thing or two about excitement and the energy that goes along with it, had this to say about the contest via his Twitter account:
Nothing against this year's batch of participants, but people watch All-Star weekend events to see the best players—not the best dunkers, in the league compete outside their natural environment. Part of the allure of the competition is the popularity of the players who take part.
LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard may not specialize in creative dunking. However, fans would just as soon tune in for someone of their caliber slamming home a monster dunk as they might view a more creative dunker with less hype. Star power alone is reason enough to watch the event and there are a handful of other players with just as much popularity as the aforementioned trio who could step in and revive the dunk contest.
The NBA’s biggest stars should consider taking part in the contest next year. It’s what the people want to see.
Sixth Time’s a Charm?
Unless the rim is lowered to about eight feet, I’ll probably never dunk a basketball. Even for the NBA’s best dunkers, getting it perfect on the first try isn’t easy, especially when that dunk requires two basketballs, a man in a folding chair or a 90-foot running start.
That said, one of the most exciting aspects of the competition is the suspenseful lead up to the dunk. Fans expect to see a big dunk on the first or second try and five failed attempts can be feel pretty anticlimactic for the viewers.
Simplicity is sometimes the best way to go. Ultra-creative dunks are terrific, but they lose their luster when it takes multiple attempts to get it right.
If future dunk contest stars can take anything away from the 2013 competition, let’s hope it’s this: Scale it back and get it right. Sometimes less is more.
Leave the Net Alone
Give him an A for effort and a B+ for creativity, but Gerald Green earns an “incomplete” for execution. Green needed a step ladder and a few precious moments to cut down the net for that dunk and he ultimately failed to hammer it home after eight attempts in the allotted time.
The former champion finally managed to throw down the double-dunk, but it wasn’t the exciting finish fans were hoping for, especially after all the hype. Once again, too many attempts ruined a terrific dunk and led to further disinterest viewers while a new net had to be installed.
This is really an extension or sub-category of the aforementioned issue of repeat dunks. Less is definitely more when “more” involves more than a couple failed attempts and cutting down a net.
In short, unless you just won a national championship, leave the net alone.