It is a sad truth these days that the best players no longer participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
The reigning NBA Most Improved Player of the Year has achieved superstar status in 2013-14, averaging 23.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists for a Pacers team that currently sports the league's best record at 32-7.
After the Pacers' 106-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night, George told Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star that he was asked to participate in the dunk contest but declined, citing a need to rest.
UPDATE: January 20 at 8:05 a.m. ET by Ethan Norof
George is waffling on his original stance and hasn't made a final decision as to whether or not he'll participate in the contest, according to Scott Agness of Pacers.com.
"No, I haven’t declined. I’m keeping my options open. It would all depend on who’s in it. I want to be in it when the competition is good.”
--End of update--
In that Clippers game, we were treated to the dunk of the year from the 23-year-old:
According to the website Real GM, the NBA has asked George to participate in the dunk contest, three-point shooting contest and skills competition. George told the Indianapolis Star that, while he hasn't completely ruled out the other two competitions, he is likely to decline all three.
George made the All-Star team last season and is a shoo-in for the 2014 game, ranking second in Eastern Conference All-Star voting.
It has become a rarity for veteran All-Stars to compete in the dunk contest. The last All-Star to compete was Blake Griffin, as a rookie in 2011. The last non-rookie All-Star to compete was Dwight Howard in 2009. We've come a long way from the days of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins.
George has competed in the dunk contest before. He placed third in the 2012 contest in his second year in the league. He didn't seem to enjoy the competition, telling Buckner:
(Not to) take nothing away from the dunk contest, (but) it was a joke. I guess whoever had the biggest celebrity involved in their dunk was going to be the winner. I guess I should have tried to reach out to some people.
But now George would be the biggest celebrity involved in any dunk contest dunk. Is he really avoiding the contest to conserve energy, or is he still bothered by the hypocrisy involved?