The 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest promises to be one of the best versions of this competition we have ever seen. It now looks to be the premier event of not only All-Star Saturday night but also of the entire weekend in New Orleans.
Defending champion Terrence Ross, star sophomore Harrison Barnes and first-year sensation Ben McLemore will also join them to round out an elite field.
According to an NBA.com press release, this dunk contest features the most stacked field since 1988: "This marks the first time in 26 years that three All-Stars are competing in the Sprite Slam Dunk. In the 1988 competition in Chicago, All-Stars Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, and Dominique Wilkins squared off, with Jordan claiming the crown in front of the hometown fans."
With the sheer amount of recognizable faces and tenacious dunkers in this year’s contest, it would be foolish for NBA fans to miss out on this event. It may have become stale in recent years, but 2014 promises to inject some serious, high-flying life into the contest.
Let’s take a look at how you can catch all the action, highlight some of the best jams from the participants and predict a winner of the 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Start Time: Saturday, Feb. 15, at 8:30 p.m. ET (fourth event of the night)
TV: Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET on TNT
Where: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, La.
Live Stream: TNT Overtime
Mobile: NBA Mobile
Best Jams of 2013-14
Paul George’s 360 Windmill
George electrified the nation after he threw down a 360-degree windmill slam in the middle of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was an insane feat that honestly could have won some of the mediocre dunk contests that fans have been subjected to over the past few years. Just imagine what this Indiana Pacers superstar will come up with now that he’s had some time to prepare and practice.
It’s going to be tough to top this, but George has flaunted his aerial prowess and creativity during his tenure in the league. It would be downright surprising if he fails to at least try something more ambitious on Saturday.
Terrence Ross Continues to Haunt Kenneth Faried
Ross won the 2013 Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie against a tough field that included Faried of the Denver Nuggets.
While winning that trophy must have been nice, the Toronto Raptors star made sure his competition did not forget who won the contest. Ross threw down a monster slam right on the head of Faried to close the half of a close game between Toronto and Denver:
Ross is a rare talent who can use raw power and athleticism to put his opponents on a poster while also being original enough to come up with new jams that will wow a dunk contest audience.
John Wall Goes 360 Too
Wall is in the midst of a career year and well on his way to guiding the Washington Wizards to their playoff appearance since he was selected with the top pick in the 2010 draft.
He hasn’t been too humble during games about busting out his impressive dunking ability, and at one point early in the season, he threw down a 360-degree slam against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 6’4” Wall has the advantage of looking quite impressive when he catches air and flushes the rock through the hoop. It appears that he’s literally flying and defying gravity more so than the taller competitors in this contest.
That could make all the difference when it comes time for the judges to pick a winner. Speaking of voting, keep reading for a look at how you can help decide the outcome of the 2014 Slam Dunk Contest.
Fans pick the “Dunker of the Night” by voting for the best slams in four different methods during the competition. You can get involved in the following ways:
- Text: Send the player’s last name to 38657 (DUNKS).
- Tweet: Tweet #SpriteSlam with the player’s last name.
- All-Star App: Vote via official app, available on iTunes, Google Play and NBA’s official site.
- NBA.com: Log in and vote on your computer or phone.
Read these carefully, as the league office has decided to add some new wrinkles to spice up the contest a bit in 2014—courtesy of NBA.com:
This year's event will feature the participants competing as a team -- three players representing the Eastern Conference and three players representing the Western Conference -- in an above-the-rim two-round format. In a significant first in the event's history, the competition will tip off with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90 seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting "East" or "West." The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that take place in the Battle Round.
The Battle Round will feature head-to-head matchups pitting East dunkers vs. West dunkers, with the judges choosing a winner for each battle. Upon losing a head-to-head battle, that dunker is then eliminated from the competition. The first team to win three battles will win the competition and be crowned 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions.
Who will win?
George is not only the biggest star in this event, but he's also competing in his second dunk contest and looking to get revenge after losing to Jeremy Evans in 2012.
It seems that the 23-year-old has only become more of an aggressive dunker since that loss, and he is going to pull out all the stops to make sure he comes away with some hardware on Saturday evening.
He could be pushed by any of the other five contestants, especially if he matches up with the high-flying fan favorite Lillard during the “Battle Round," but it would be shocking if the Pacers star fails to garner the highest scores from the judges in 2014.
Predicted Winner: Paul George