LeBron, Kobe in a JAM: How to Save the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Rod CoffeeContributor IMarch 27, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 17:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference dunks the ball during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17, 2013 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images


Enough with the LeBron James pregame warm-up jam fest.

Enough with the DeAndre Jordan dunk of death highlight.

Enough with leaving NBA fans longing for a legit dunk contest worthy of the league's high-flying reputation.

Enough with the seemingly never-ending array of marginal NBA players getting their 15 minutes of fame by focusing more on costumes and cars on the court than dunks that should highlight freakish genetics.

It seems everybody is ready to see the NBA’s best dunking for dollars.

It is time for boys to become men and man up to the challenge the public is all but punking them to accept.

Time for LeBron James, Blake Griffin and the rest of the NBA's aerial elite to determine the league’s best dunker.

And it's time for the NBA to revise the tired old system of slamming and quickly institute a format that forces people to prove; “I can do a dunk you can’t do.”  The dunk contest needs to be settled in a high-flying game of PIG.

The new version will be called the JAM contest (cue audio: “Jam on it” by Newcelus here). First one to get the letters J-A-M loses the round, and the winner moves on to compete against the winner of another dunk-off.

Arguably every person, regardless of ability, who has ever held a basketball has challenged someone to a shot-for-shot contest. It’s the ultimate one-on-one contest that relies solely on your ability to do something without anyone playing defense. It’s all about the ability or inability to duplicate your opponent's skill set.

If you want, you could even create different divisions to try to make it more competitive or fair. You could have a competition for players 6'3" and under (See: Russell Westbrook), a category for big fellas who want to jam at 6'9" and over and the premier group of high-risers who stand at 6'4" to 6'8". Yes, that means you, LeBron.

There could be an open category for players in the league who are willing to compete against anyone, including perhaps a non-professional, voted in by the fans based on their YouTube exploits.

The bottom line is, the Slam Dunk Contest is a format that works in its basic premise and could be tweaked to appeal to the players, fans and sponsors alike.

Most basketball junkies also know the first rule of any game of HORSE, PIG or made-up version of a shot-for-shot competition is "No dunking." Dunking typically makes an otherwise level playing field unfair for most people, unless of course both hoopers have hops and can rise above the rim.

Even then, the smallest margin of difference in liftoff can render a competition over before it even starts. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird even went with a dunkless version of their hotshot competition, battling for burgers and fries in their famous McDonalds commercial, illustrating the age-old way of settling things on the court.

The NBA already has a history with televising HORSE competitions. And the superstars took part in the show.

So for those who profess to be the best, and aren't afraid to put their meniscus where their mouth is, it's time to stand up, or more accurately, jump up and prove it.

The JAM format doesn't need scorecards, fan interaction or other subjective ways of judging jams, minus the possible use of computer images to determine if the dunk was done identically or close enough to be considered the same. But more often than not, the naked eye does not lie. You can see when someone’s slam looks like the other guy's or not.

You either do the dunk the guy before you just did or you get a letter. Three letters and you're out. No second chances, no props, just JAMS.

I can do what you can do, or not. That is what competition is all about.

NBA legend Magic Johnson has already challenged LeBron’s competitiveness, if not his manhood, by offering him $1 million to finally prove what he seems to want us to assume. But baby boomers like Magic believe that to be the man, you have to prove you're the man, unlike the current generation who seem to believe you're the man because you say you are and don't have to prove a thing.

Well yes, you really do.

Michael Jordan's success in the dunk contest didn't define his legacy but it did help develop it. Moreover, competing in the dunk contest spoke to Jordan's competitiveness, his willingness to fail and his desire to defeat anybody at anything related to the sport he was determined to dominate from wins to wows (and that isn't an acronym for Way of Wade).

The dunk-for-dunk JAM competition is the solution to an outdated dunk contest that in theory should never get old.

So shoot from the top of the key with your opposite hand or simply flip a coin to see who goes first and let the game begin.

Your shot.